The Tracy Morgan Car Crash Turns Political

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June 9 2014 8:35 PM

The Tracy Morgan Car Crash Turns Political

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Bad timing, Sen. Collins.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Over the weekend, a sleep-deprived Walmart trucker crashed his tractor-trailer into former 30 Rock star Tracy Morgan's limousine, killing one passenger and leaving Morgan in critical condition. In a twist of terrible timing, the Senate is currently considering an amendment sponsored by Maine Sen. Susan Collins that would roll back safety measures designed to prevent exactly such an accident. From the Huffington Post:

Collins' amendment would stall two measures that were part of a batch of new trucker rules instituted last year. One requires that drivers take 34 consecutive hours off before starting a new one-week work period. The other mandates that time off include two overnight rest periods, between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., back to back. Those "restart" requirements only kick in for drivers who hit 70 hours over an eight-day work period, or 60 hours over a seven-day work period.
Collins' plan to suspend those rules has the backing of a leading trucking lobby, the American Trucking Associations, which claimed the reforms were "unsupported by science."
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Although the amendment, part of the Senate's appropriations bill for the Transportation Department, has already passed through committee, it has yet to receive a floor vote. And, of course, even if it leaves the Senate unscathed, it still has the House of Representatives to contend with. Regardless, highway safety advocates are seizing on the coincidence as a teachable moment—or perhaps a sign of things to come should Collins' amendment make it into law. 

Mark Joseph Stern is a writer for Slate. He covers science, the law, and LGBTQ issues.

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