A new report into the crash that critically injured funnyman Tracy Morgan and killed comedian James McNair has revealed that the Peterbilt semi that caused the accident was traveling at 20 miles per hour over the speed limit. It's also alleged that the truck driver behind the wheel of the semi ignored construction signs and drops in the speed limit leading up to the traffic backup where the accident occurred.
The report, filed by the National Transportation Safety Board, also indicated that the driver of the semi, 35-year-old Kevin Roper (pictured above at his first court appearance), had been awake for over 24 hours and was approaching the maximum amount of time federal regulations allowed him to be behind the wheel.
The NTSB report isn't necessarily focusing on Roper's total time behind the wheel – which sat at just over 9.5 hours, out of the 11 the federal law allows before drivers must rest. Instead, it's focusing on how long Roper, a Georgia resident that commutes some 700 miles to his trucking gig in Delaware, was awake before the fatal accident.
While it scarcely needs reminding, being awake for over 24 hours can have a dramatic effect on reaction times, with one study from the University of Pennsylvania finding that 28 hours without sleep is has the equivalent effect on reaction times of a 0.01-percent blood-alcohol concentration. If Roper was really awake over 24 hours, it's a fair bet that his reaction speed was at least somewhat impaired.
Morgan's Sprinter was hit by the Peterbilt, and collected a pair of additional cars in the wreck before flipping and landing on its side, across the outside and center lanes.