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There are almost 48,000 miles of interstate highway in the United States. In 2012, there were 30,800 fatal crashes on the nation’s roadways, 3,702 of which involved at least one large truck or bus. There were also 367,000 nonfatal crashes which involved at least one large truck or bus. One person is killed or injured in an 18 wheeler trucking accident every 16 minutes. In Louisiana, there were 88 fatal crashes involving a large truck or bus in 2011. That number rose to 108 in 2012.

The driver of the 18 wheeler Wal-Mart involved in the Tracy Morgan crash allegedly had not slept in 24 hours. The accident was one of hundreds of crashes involving Wal-Mart trucks. Federal data shows that Wal-Mart trucks have been involved in 380 crashes over the last two years. Nine people have been killed and 129 injured in those crashes.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sets strict limits on how long drivers can spend behind the wheel. Commercial truckers are required to keep a log of their sleep, and time spent driving, loading and unloading.

Truckers can’t drive more than 11 hours each day without rest and may not work more than 14 hours, including driving and non-driving, in any 24-hour period. The number of fatal crashes involving 18 wheelers rose between 2009 and 2012, after a four-year decline. Driver fatigue is a major factor in many 18 wheeler crashes. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 13% of crashes involve an 18 wheeler driver who is not properly rested.

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