Lauer. Lawyers. Lies.

By Jami Jones, managing editor

Recently I watched NBC’s Matt Lauer interview Tracy Morgan’s attorney, Benedict P. Morelli. Lauer handled the details of the wreck better than expected – especially in light of the recent teardown series on the industry put out there by CNBC.

One criticism of Lauer: He tried to slant the accountability from motor carriers. Clearly he lacks an understanding of the industry and how some motor carriers operate. He obviously was fishing for Morelli to say that only drivers are responsible for crashes when they happen. But that wasn’t even close to the worst of it. Morelli was so full of bad information it was appalling.

Morelli said there were “75 deaths a day from big rigs. It’s been increasing.”

Seriously – 75 a day from big rigs? If that were true, it would add up to 27,375 a year – which is so far from the truth it made me cringe. Then scream. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the actual number of truck-related deaths in 2012 was just over 3,900. And that number doesn’t reflect the fact that the truck driver was usually not at fault.

Morelli’s “facts” are the gold standard for the misinformation that we in the trucking industry battle. Morelli not only butchered the actual facts, he said Walmart driver Kevin Roper had been driving his truck for more than 13 hours. DRIVING?

It will be interesting to see if Morelli is going to go into a courtroom with a load of lies and a very poor understanding of the hours of service. Let’s see, how many months has this guy been on the job prepping to represent Tracy Morgan in court with the facts? And he still doesn’t get it? Maybe Morgan has been paying him way too much.

Here are the real facts.

The most recent year of complete crash data released was 2012. Here are some key points:

  • There were 3,464 fatal crashes involving large trucks.
  • 3,921 people died in crashes involving large trucks.
  • Research shows that of those 3,464 wrecks involving large trucks, 75 to 80 percent of those wrecks were not the fault of the trucker.

What the media should be focused on is how MOST people on the road are dying.

  • There were 26,540 fatal crashes that did not involve large trucks.
  • 29,156 people died in crashes that did not involve large trucks.

Funny thing, Morelli complained to Lauer that the press had first reported in error that his client was dead. Then it was erroneously reported that Morgan had lost a leg in the accident. Morelli was actually outraged that those rumors were reported by the press. Ironic, eh? LL