Daimler's Autonomous Future Truck

Visitors to The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC blog may have been keeping up with news on autonomous technology from companies like Ford, Toyota, and Google. A company that we haven't yet mentioned however, is Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz. Daimler is also a member of the autonomous car industry and was one of the first to begin the automated transportation revolution with its development of self-driving trucks. The world of semi-trucks was transformed with the creation of the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck. The truck's design includes automated driving capabilities that will allow drivers to operate the heavy, cargo-bearing vehicle much more easily, efficiently, and comfortably. Diamler-created autonomous technology, called Highway Pilot, has set the Future Truck apart from competitors, allowing it to be the safest semi-truck of its kind. Daimler had previously planned to release the Future Truck in 2025, giving driver-less car onlookers a not-so-far away glimpse into what roads may look like in the near future.
 

Source:  Daimler

Source: Daimler

Mercedes-Benz Highway Pilot Autonomous Technology


The Future Truck uses Highway Pilot software to autonomously control driving. Daimler envisions a workplace similar to a living room for truckers, where they can relax as they control driving with an iPad. Highway Pilot uses sensors to observe areas in front of the vehicle and to take over control in certain situations, such as during sudden stops. Highway Pilot allows the humans to do all the thinking, without incurring any risk, and leaves the driving to the truck itself. 

Another characteristic of the Future Truck is vehicle-to-vehicle communication. Self-driving trucks will be able to pull over for emergency vehicles or slow down with traffic congestion, using data from the inter-vehicle signals. The trucks will be also be able to switch lanes and react to broken down vehicles on the shoulder, even steering and braking through construction zones with the help of its communication features. 

Source:  Daimler

Source: Daimler

Daimler has embraced the opportunity to transform the future of long-distance driving with the development of their Future Truck. Klaus Riff, Deputy Head of Prevention for G Verkehr–Transport Industry Professional Association, confirmed for Daimler that truck drivers face extreme demands everyday, due to factors like sustained attention, tight schedules, and high traffic density. Not only are individual drivers likely to benefit from automated technology, but entire business models will be rearranged. Business Insider mentions how labor costs will be controlled differently and workloads will be streamlined, affecting businesses and consumers with these steps towards more advanced trucks. 

Daimler's Highway Pilot technology was officially tested in October 2015 with the Mercedes-Benz Actros truck, making it the world's first series-production truck to operate autonomously on a motorway. A top German politician, Winfried Kretschmann, and Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard, Board Member of Daimler AG responsible for Trucks and Buses, rode on the maiden journey of the Mercedes-Benz Actros with the Highway Pilot system, further displaying Daimler's commitment to ease of driving and safety precautions.

Autonomous Truck Regulations

Automated trucks, just like autonomous cars, have not been developed without closely monitored regulations. Four states in the US currently allow the operation of autonomous vehicles on public roads under certain conditions. Those states are Nevada, Florida, California, and Michigan. Europe has been facing more strict restrictions. Vehicle safety tests in the EU have been designed for cars with someone behind the wheel, meaning the Future Truck and other driver-less cars like it, fail these tests. Politico reported last year that there were no plans to review this law, setting Europe back from the US and other countries where autonomous driving has been tested on roads. 

Source:  Daimler

Source: Daimler

Additionally, policies have regulated truck driver workweeks, working to help reduce motor vehicle fatalities that drowsy driving from a combination of lack of sleep and long hours on highway roads may cause. Semi-truck drivers carrying cargo may drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 hours off duty, and according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), may only drive 60/70 hours on duty in 7/ 8 consecutive days. With the release of the Future Truck, truck drivers will be able to rest more often and therefore go longer distances in faster times. Human error will be minimized since trucks will be driving themselves. 
 
Daimler’s automated semi-trucks will soon be approaching reality after years of planning, and the world will finally experience a new type of long-distance travel. Planes, trains, and automobiles are all slowly becoming autonomous, and the transportation industry is just on the brink of a revolution. Daimler and Mercedes-Benz have been a step ahead of the pack, and only have to look eight more years ahead to see The Future Truck front and center. 

Source: Daimler


The future of semi-trucks is looking autonomous and automated. In the present time however, while trucks are still being operated by humans, automobile drivers should take caution  when driving near trucks, as their size makes it harder for them to react quickly to vehicles around them. If you or someone you know has been involved in a motor vehicle accident involving a semi-truck or other large vehicle, please contact The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free legal consultation. 

Fourth Of July Travel Safety Tips

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As the Fourth of July, one of the most anticipated holidays of the year, approaches, many American families are preparing to travel to celebrate this patriotic day. Thousands of people take to the roads on Independence Day, contributing to what U.S. News describes as “the busiest summer travel holiday.” This year, the holiday weekend will extend longer than normal, from Friday, June 30th to Tuesday, July 4th, when AAA Travel says a record-breaking 44.2 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home. As a result, drivers need to extra careful when traveling on the roads over the longer weekend, since other drivers may have over-indulged in celebratory beverages at barbecues and parties.

To avoid being involved in a motor vehicle accident, travelers may want to follow the Fourth of July Travel Safety Tips below, recommended by TODAY:

  • Follow basic safety practices. Wearing seatbelts, using helmets, being mindful of speed limits, and remembering to not drink and drive can go a long way to keeping roads safe.
  • Take preventative measures. Check oil levels and tire pressure, along with coolant levels, because cars may overheat when stuck in traffic. Car owners may also benefit from a check-up with a mechanic, prior to a long road trip, to examine vehicles for any unusual problems that might impede driving vacation.
  • Plan trips with timing in mind. If it can be helped, it can be safer to travel a few days before or a few days after the Fourth of July, as the days closer to the holiday tend to be more congested.
  • Keep a safe following distance. Stay three seconds or more behind the car, truck, or motorcycle in front of you. This will allow you enough time to brake if you need to stop suddenly.
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  • Minimize distractions. Keep phones put away and out of reach, leave snacks and drinks in the cooler, and turn the radio stations on before leaving the driveway. If mobile devices absolutely must be in the car, hand them to a passenger to control or utilize one of these safety apps researched by The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC to help prevent a deadly collision from distracted driving. Besides these distractions, road trips also call for additional reasons to focus on the road. Arguments, even if they are in the backseat, may make drivers anxious or cause them to take their eyes and ears off the road. Pets, along for the vacation, should be kept inside a carrier or fascinated into pet-specific seat belts, so as not to jump into the front seat and distract the driver. Additionally, loose items like sunglasses and maps might fall from the dashboard or overhead sun visors, startling drivers enough to threaten the safety of everyone in the car.
  • Know where you are going. Look up directions for road trip routes beforehand, making a plan for the hours spent on the road. Enlist a passenger to help navigate, so that the driver can focus on getting to the destination safely. Remember not to look at a phone screen for distractions while also behind the wheel of a moving vehicle.  
  • Get plenty of rest. Prior to traveling over the Independence Day weekend, don’t forget to sleep in the midst of packing and planning. Lack of sleep can lead to drowsiness while driving, which is a risk factor for severe car crashes. Car drivers should take frequent breaks and rotate drivers if necessary.
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The Fourth of July can be fun for everyone, as it is a day off work to enjoy the summer weather, cook out in backyards, and swim in the lake. Holiday road trips are a great way to bond with family and friends, and visit destinations, both new locales and well-loved spots. However, drivers must always be cautious of their surroundings, especially during such a busy time for travelers. Keep flashes of red, white, and blue to the fireworks in the sky instead of blinking on top of police cars. There is no doubt which would make the Founding Fathers more proud.


The 4th of July is a day to celebrate freedom for all people in the United States of America. Driving is a privilege not a freedom. Don't take advantage of the holiday as a reason to drive dangerously, drunkenly, or distractedly this upcoming Independence Day weekend. If you or someone you know has been a victim of an automobile collision, please contact The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.

Sleep May Help Heal Traumatic Brain Injuries

It has been reported that one of the leading complaints people dealing with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) have is that they either cannot get enough sleep, or suffer from insomnia, or that they are constantly sleeping or feel sleepy. So, it comes as a bit of a surprise when a study conducted by the University of Montreal's psychology department found evidence that TBIs and patients' recoveries correlate with sleep patterns. Nadia Gosselin, the study's author, claims that the study shows that if hospitals took more time regulating a sleep routine for a patient diagnosed with a TBI, it could go a long way in their recovery process. Gosselin also adds that, "Making sure patients are exposed to sunlight or its equivalent during the day and at night rest in a dark, quiet environment," TBI patients may be able to maintain a sleep cycle.  

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But First, What Is A Traumatic Brain Injury?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "A TBI is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that disrupts the normal function of the brain. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI. The severity of a TBI may range from “mild” (i.e., a brief change in mental status or consciousness) to “severe” (i.e., an extended period of unconsciousness or memory loss after the injury).  Most TBIs that occur each year are mild, commonly called concussions."

Effects TBIs Have On Sleep And Health

Research has proven that when sleep cycles are disrupted, it can have an affect on mood swings, weight, memory, and other consequences. Hence, if someone is losing sleep due to a TBI, other serious health problems can correspondingly occur. Some of the more common diseases include diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. Additional problems linked to sleep deprivation are a lower libido, depression, and in extreme cases death. This doesn't include health problems that are usually a direct result of having a brain injury such as visual perception, motor function and problems with reading. spelling, and/or speaking. 

Sleep Routines May Help Heal TBIs

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As Gosselin mentioned, setting up a sleep routine tied to the time of day is a good way to get started on resetting the bodies internal clock. Designating a time to wake up to every day and a time to go to bed every night are the simplest ways to set a routine. And by going to bed at least ten minutes ahead of the scheduled time gives the body time to relax to help get to sleep better. It should be noted that eating and drinking drinking alcohol and/or caffeine at least five hours ahead of bed time will also help a person suffering from sleep problems fall asleep easier. Visual stimulants such watching TV, checking email on the laptop, or playing smart phone games, should also be avoided because they can keep the brain busy and essentially signal it to 'stay awake.'

After about 30 minutes of trying to fall asleep and failing to do so, sleep experts recommend that people don't try to force themselves asleep as this can potentially lead to a restless night. Instead, researchers suggest getting out of bed and doing something boring until they feel sleepy. 

Night time isn't the only time a sleeping pattern should be enforced. There are also a few tips that TBI victims can use to stay on track during the day. Staying active through a workout routine during the day is an essential to good sleep. If the body works and tires out during the day, the brain and body are more likely to be susceptible to falling asleep at night. Again, by limit the amount of visual stimulants TBI survivors are exposed, such as smart phone apps, TV shows, and YouTube videos, is also important during the day. If a nap must be had during the day, they should be limited to no more than 20 to 30 minutes a day. Lastly, those dealing with TBIs should increase the amount of time they are outside, especially on days when the sun is out. 

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A cure has yet to be found for some types of traumatic brain injuries, however, most TBIs can be managed through treatments and medications provided through a licensed medical provider. As for prevention of TBIs, the best way to avoid a traumatic brain injury is to take every precaution from getting a head injury. For example, one of the most common ways people suffer from TBIs is by being involved in a car accident. A study conducted by the CDC in 2013, revealed that "Among all age groups, motor vehicle crashes were the third overall leading cause of TBI-related ED visits, hospitalizations, and deaths (14%). When looking at just TBI-related deaths, motor vehicle crashes were the third leading cause (19%)."

For the most part, car accidents themselves are preventable since many of them occur due to human error. Though it's easier said than done, by following the rules of the road, by properly wearing seat belts, and by not engaging in distracted driving behaviors, the number of car accidents, and thereby the number of car crash traumatic brain injuries, may decrease. 


Traumatic brain injuries are serious conditions that require time and attention to heal, if they can be healed. If you or someone you know has been the victim of a traumatic brain injury due to a motor vehicle collision, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM. We offer free consultations to car accident survivors so that they are not left in the dark on the legal process under Michigan law. 

The Impact of Autonomous Cars on the US Economy

There has been continuous buzz about self-driving cars over the past few years, with successful tests and disastrous accidents alike, being reported in the news. There is no doubt that such a ground-breaking invention will change transportation norms throughout the United States, just as Henry Ford’s automobiles forever changed the way to get around the country.

In fact, Wired reports autonomous vehicles are expected to add $7 trillion to the U.S. economy over the next 35 years, based on data from Intel and research company Strategy Analytics. This is no small number, considering just robotic cars alone could add $2 trillion to the nation's economy by 2050, not even taking into account the current jobs and businesses that will be affected financially. To put these numbers into perspective, $1 trillion could buy about 40 million new cars, according to Kiplinger. But what makes up this enormous number?

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Self-Driving Cars and Jobs

Autonomous cars are predicted to positively influence the economy in the coming years, but their impact will be spread unevenly across sectors. Companies like Google and GM who have invested in making this technology a reality, will see the most money. Then, for the average Joe, the industries that will likely see a rise in job demands include data analysis, IT, and mechanics. Just like our smart phones and credit cards, autonomous cars collect data on a driver's habits, which in turn creates jobs for humans who need to sort and analyze this data. Intel reports jobs in information technology (IT), though they will see a shift from actual discovery of information to the management of machines finding information, will almost double in intensity. Additionally, the number of miles driven is expected to rise, increasing the need for cars, self-driving or otherwise, to be repaired by mechanics. 

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On the other hand, there will also be a decline in jobs, especially for people working in the service industries. Jobs like food delivery and taxi services may no longer be needed with the use of self-driving cars. This brings into effect the concept that Intel and Strategy Analytics call "The Passenger Economy," an idea which places economic and societal value on pilotless vehicles. Essentially, why hire humans to do a job that cars can do on their own? While they profit either way, this is a question that companies like Uber will have to face when replacing human drivers with company vehicles. 

It should also be noted that self-driving cars may create jobs that are still unknown. After all, with new technologies come new jobs the market previously did not anticipate. On the flip side, new technologies could also make jobs that currently exist obsolete. No matter which sectors see an increase or decline in job security, the fact remains that the American economy will still receive an estimated $7 trillion economic boost (or even even bigger-no one can put an exact number on the future!) Just like the Model-T helped restructure city spaces and bring the suburbs into existence, autonomous vehicles have the ability to transform job markets. There are endless possibilities for economic reform.

Autonomous Car Regulations

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Though all the glory of creating thousands of new jobs and boosting the economy sounds appealing, it does not happen without the technology meeting all safety standards first. Which is why, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is not counting their chickens before their eggs hatch. The NHTSA has released the Vehicle Performance Guidance for Automated Vehicles, a document which, "outlines best practices for the safe design, development and testing of automated vehicles prior to commercial sale or operation on public roads." Included in this document is a 15-point safety assessment that requires manufacturers to meet objectives such as operational design, post-crash response, privacy, and cybersecurity before their cars can go to market. Considering that 94% of automobile crashes are due to human error, there is definitely room for technology to advance driver safety. Hopefully, if all autonomous vehicle manufacturers can meet the standards set by the NHTSA, this will be a step in the right direction to saving lives. 

The Future of Self-Driving Cars

What does all this mean for people who are willing to give up their spot behind the wheel and let the car drive itself? (That is a scary thought for a lot of people!) Well, most people want more proof that these cars won't crash and will safely deliver them to their destination before they surrender the wheel. That is why companies who create autonomous car technology need to be regulated to ensure absolute safety in their products and so that consumers are not just paying for the newest trend in transportation. Put simply, this technology needs to save lives and be safer than the transportation methods we already have. Gill Pratt, CEO of the Toyota Research Institute said to Consumer Reports that “there’s no way that we as a society would accept self-driving cars that cause the same number of fatalities as humans.” 

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In 2015, there were roughly 35,000 traffic deaths in the United States. Future autonomous vehicles must allow for more safety if they are to replace human drivers. People also need to remember that transportation technology takes years of planning before it can be used in everyday lives, and that for now, only people can drive cars. Testing allows room for development and improvement, but overall “we expect machines to be better than us,” as Pratt said.

Until it's proven that autonomous vehicles are safer than human-operated vehicles, humans need to be careful when driving on the road today. While we may one day be able to sleep while a car drives us around, we have to make sure that for now, we don't fall asleep behind the wheel! Sleepy driving, distracted driving, and drunk driving are bad human habits that can lead to serious injuries and death in the event of a car crash. By following the rules of the road and maintaining good driving habits, people can protect themselves from being involved in fatal car accidents. 

At the end of the day, it is impossible to plan the future or to predict how large of an impact autonomous vehicles will have on the economy or auto law. What we do know is that self-driving cars will add jobs, take away jobs, and, based on how well they are regulated, even save lives. 


Self-driving cars are growing closer to reality than we think due to the rapid development of technology. However, today, we still rely on people to drive vehicles, and as such, following the rules of the road is the best way to stay safe and to avoid motor vehicle accidents. If you or someone you know has been in involved in an auto accident, please contact The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.

Memorial Day Weekend Traffic Fatalities

Memorial Day celebrates the many men and women who have risked their lives to defend our country, but it also kicks off Summer travels. Whether by plane, train, boat or car, most Americans use this long weekend for a short getaway. With so many people leaving on vacation however, congestion and accidents are expected to follow. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that 439 people will be killed and 50,500 will be seriously injured, over this three day weekend, due to Memorial Day motor vehicle crashes. 

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Memorial Day Car Crash Statistics

This year, it is expected that nearly 39.3 million Americans will go on vacation for Memorial Day. 88.1% of those traveling are planning to do so by driving, despite gas prices being increased by 11 cents since Memorial Day 2016. Additional statistics estimate that out of the over 50,000 car accidents and injuries incurred on this holiday every year, that 44% of these car crashes involve alcohol. In Michigan alone, out of all of the fatal car accidents that took place over Memorial Day weekend in 2015, approximately 33% of these motor vehicle accidents included a pedestrian or driver with alcohol in their system, according to Michigan State Police (MSP) reports.

Safe Driving Recourse

Although there are’t any plans to set up drunk driving checkpoints over the holiday weekend due to the questionable legality in Michigan, the MSP will still be on the road identifying drunk drivers and distracted drivers. MSP will also be involved with the Crash Awareness and Reduction Efforts operation (C.A.R.E.), which is an international traffic safety initiative to keep the roadways safe during the Memorial Day weekend. Other programs that MSP will be participating in are the nationwide “Click it or Ticket” kickoff geared toward making sure that both children and adults are properly wearing and using their seat-belts. If a Michigan police officer discovers a driver not wearing a seat-belt between May 23 to June 5, they can expect to receive a base fine of approximately $65. 

Memorial Day Weekend Travel Safety Tips

Unfortunately, tickets and fines don't deter everyone into following the rules of the road. Therefore, even if you are adhering to the law, that doesn't mean that every other driver on the road will. So, for those who are planning on traveling by car, truck, bus, or RV this weekend, here are a few traffic safety tips provided by CNN News:

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  • Drive shorter distances. It is reasonably deduced that with the large number of drivers on the road who are traveling long distances, accidents can be reduced if other drivers drive shorter distances.  

  • Take the highway. On highways everyone is heading in the same direction and there are no turn lanes, so, traffic doesn't often stop - unless a car crash or traffic jam occurs. This helps make for a quicker journey than taking local roads which usually eat up time with red lights, turn lanes, and four way traffic.

  • Congestion could save a life. As odd as it sounds, taking the road less traveled could lead to speeding and accidents. In congested traffic, the only way to go is slow, which can further prevent accidents from happening or at least lessen the damage caused by any potential impact.

  • Leave early. Based on Waze traffic congestion studies, it is best to avoid the roads on Thursday between 3 to 5 P.M., on Friday from 8 A.M. to 3 P.M., and on Monday from 10 A.M. to 3 P.M.

  • Don’t drive under the influence. Is there really much more that needs to be said? Driving under the influence can affect reaction time, cognitive functions, and motor skills, all of which can lead to drunk driving car accidents.

  • Drowsy driving is a no-go. When experiencing constant blinking, swerving, or trouble recalling the last few miles, take it as a sign to pull over and rest or to switch drivers if possible. Falling asleep behind the wheel can lead to motor vehicle accidents and irreparable injuries. 

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It's also a general rule when driving any time that drivers should stay focused at all times on the road. That means no distractions from pets, phones, or even passengers. In this day and age, it's especially important to refrain from trying to text, post, tweet, record a video, or do anything else that can potentially cause attention to move away from the road. As many studies show, there are enough accidents caused around Memorial Day every year that could be avoided if drivers just take their time, drive responsibly, and abide by traffic laws.

Unofficial start of Summer aside, Memorial Day should be respected and we should do our best to remember those who died to serve our country. Thank you to those who laid down their lives in service, to those who have served, and to those who are serving. 


It is important for Michigan drivers to be aware that with the Summer travel season upon us, that the roads will quickly fill up with people wanting to take advantage of the warm weather. This surplus of out of town drivers on the road will cause travel times to be extended and thereby make crash statistics increase. Long weekends like Memorial Day, may even bring out an influx of road rage accidents and aggressive driving accidents. If you or a loved one becomes involved in a car accident over Memorial Day weekend, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. We provide free consultations to victims of motor vehicle accidents. Speak to a Michigan car crash lawyer today at 844.4MI.FIRM. 

Walmart Truck Driver Pleads Guilty To Vehicular Homicide In Tracy Morgan Case

Tracy Morgan Walmart Truck Accident

Back on June 7, 2014, Tracy Morgan, actor and comedian known for his antics on the TV show Saturday Night Live and for his character Tracy Jordan, on the TV show 30 Rock, was involved in a truck accident with a few of his friends. The crash with a Walmart truck left Morgan with a traumatic brain injury and several broken bones including his ribs and caused him to be in a coma for 6 days. Morgan's friend, fellow comedian James "Jimmy Mack" McNair, was killed in the truck crash. Now, two and a half years later, Morgan can finally put his truck accident behind him for good.

According to CNN, Kevin Roper, the driver of the Walmart truck, pled guilty to second-degree vehicular homicide and four counts of third-degree aggravated assault in Middlesex County Superior Court, in New Jersey. Roper was responsible for crashing into Morgan's chauffeured limo on the New Jersey Turnpike in Cranbury, New Jersey. At the time of the accident, Roper had been behind the wheel of the Wal-Mart truck after not sleeping in the past 24 hours. He had decided to drive 12 hours to work before starting his 14-hour shift, which according to federal regulations, which state that truck drivers should have at least 10 hours off in order to have enough time to sleep, is illegal. 

"Mr. Roper entered a guilty plea to certain counts of the indictment pending against him," Roper's attorney David Glassman told CNN in a statement. "In exchange, he was granted admission into the PTI program (pretrial intervention program)." By entering a 3 year PTI program Roper will be able to maintain a clean record, and the charges against him would be dismissed upon completion of the required 300 hours of community service while staying arrest free. 

Glassman’s own opinion of the court's decision was that the deal was "an exceptional result and opportunity given the serious nature of the charges and potential for far more serious outcomes. Kevin is grateful for this opportunity to get these charges dismissed and move on with his life."

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As for Walmart's role in the crash, “Safety is the absolute highest priority for Walmart,” the retailer said in an emailed statement acquired by CBS New York. A Walmart company spokeswoman said that Roper’s truck was equipped with a system designed to slow its speed and notify him of stopped traffic ahead, but it is unknown if the system was working at the time. 

However, due to the notoriety of the accident, Walmart made an undisclosed settlement with Morgan back in May 2015. The only statement made about the settlement came from Morgan who said, "Walmart did right by me and my family, and for my associates and their families. I am grateful that the case was resolved amicably."

Tracy Morgan is currently on a comedy tour titled, “Picking Up The Pieces.” 


The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 72,000 crashes and 800 deaths are attributed to drivers who fall asleep behind the wheel.  The CDC states that the warning signs of drowsy driving include lane drifting, frequent yawning or blinking, and difficulty remembering the last few miles. If any of these symptoms occur, it is best for drivers get to a secure location and rest until they are able to proceed to their destination. If you or anyone you know has been involved in an accident involving a driver who fell asleep at the wheel, please feel free to contact the Michigan Law Firm PLLC. Our attorneys are highly qualified in dealing with a variety of motor vehicle accidents. Call us today, 844.4MI.FIRM, for a free consultation.

Sleepy at Work: Physicians Battle Fatigue While Working 'Round the Clock

The medical industry is beginning to take a look at the physical and mental toll that is taken on by physicians who work long and stressful hours. 

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STAT News highlights that long shifts start at the early stages of medical schooling. “During residency, medical school graduates are supervised while they learn to practice in a safe and professional manner. They gain real-world experience with a wide range of diseases, conditions, and procedures. They also learn about the complexities of medicine in outpatient settings, where most care is provided,” the article states. 

Shifts, which last anywhere from 24 to 36 hours in order to follow patient’s illnesses and adjusting treatment over time, can leave physicians exhausted. Since a highly publicized case from 1984, which involved an 18 year old student’s death, was linked to resident work overload, studies have shown that fatigue among health care workers decreases patient safety by increasing the risk of error, injuries, and accidents. 

As seen with the 1984 case, resident fatigue can be extremely harmful to the residents as well. Stat News writes that “Health care workers are more likely to experience accidental needle sticks or cuts when fatigued. A study showed that interns who worked 24-hour shifts were more than twice as likely to be in a car accident on the way home from work than those who worked 12-hour shifts.

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In response to the growing evidence of safety risks linked to longer shifts, in 2011 the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) established 80 hour per week limits for residents. Interns (first-year) are limited to 16-hour shifts, and residents beyond their first year can work 24 hours straight. 

Since the implementation of the hours limit, there have been clear effects. One early consequence has been an increase in the number of “hand offs” which take place at the end of a shift. A resident must transfer the care of his or her patient to another resident. STAT reports that miscommunication has become a common problem which allows for errors and puts the patient’s health at risk. 

The ACGME is currently reviewing the requirements for residency programs, and The National Patient Safety Foundation is urging the group to continue research on the impact of work hours on “safety, professionalism, joy and meaning in work, and burnout” among interns. Tejal Gandhi, President and CEO of the National Patient Safety Foundation writes that, “Let’s find ways to give residents the clinical experience they need while optimizing safety for both patients and residents, our next generation of the health care workforce.”


Ever dosed off at the wheel? According to the National Sleep Foundation, 60% of adult drivers (about 168 million people) have admitted to falling asleep while feeling extremely drowsy. 1,500 deaths and 71,000 injuries result from the 100,000 fatigued driving police-reported crashes that take place each year. If you are behind the wheel and feeling drowsy, pull over and take a quick nap or call a friend for a ride home. If you or somebody you know has been involved in an accident caused by a tired driver, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Our attorneys will identify your needs and get you the help you deserve. Call us today, at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.