The Wal-Mart truck involved in the accident that injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed a passenger on his limo bus had a system designed to slow the truck’s speed and notify the driver of stopped traffic ahead, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman said Monday.
The company has been putting the safety systems — which include forward-looking radar and interactive cruise control — on its trucks since 2010. It was unclear whether that system was working at the time of the crash early Saturday in New Jersey.
Wal-Mart spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan confirmed that Kevin Roper was a company driver and not a contract employee. According to the criminal complaint, Roper was operating the truck “without having slept for a period in excess of 24 hours resulting in a motor vehicle accident.” Buchanan referred questions about Roper to law enforcement, citing the ongoing investigation into the crash.
Buchanan said Wal-Mart is consistently recognized as having one of the safest private fleets in the country, with an accident frequency of 0.342 per million miles travelled, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Wal-Mart drivers get annual safety training, and the company has 65 drivers who have driven 3 million miles or more without any accidents.
According to federal data, Wal-Mart trucks have been involved in 380 crashes in the last 24 months. Nine people have been killed in those crashes; 129 have been injured.
It’s unclear how Wal-Mart’s safety record compares with other carriers, but messages seeking comment were left with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association, which compiles data on truck fleets. Wal-Mart did earn the government’s highest safety rating when it was last reviewed a decade ago.
Wal-Mart has 6,121 tractors for holding trailers and 7,175 drivers. They drove 667 million miles last year.
The Bentonville, Arkansas, company is one of the largest private carriers in the U.S., after Coca-Cola, Pepsi and food service company Sysco, according to Transport Topics, an industry newspaper.