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N.J. Senators Fight Trucking Regulation Rollback In Wake Of Tracy Morgan Crash

WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) -- In the wake of a crash on the New Jersey Turnpike that critically injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed another man, New Jersey's two U.S. senators were seeking Tuesday to block a measure they said would roll back safety regulations on the trucking industry.

U.S. Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) plan to sponsor legislation to repeal an amendment approved last month by the Senate Appropriations Committee, which would roll back regulations on the length of driver workday, according to a Star-Ledger report.

"A new effort has arisen in the U.S. Senate to roll back protections that limit how many hours a week truck drivers can work. We should be looking to strengthen protections, not undermine them," Menendez told 1010 WINS. "We wouldn't consider rolling back FDA-approved safety regulations during an E. coli outbreak."

Menendez also said the federal government needs to improve the nation's infrastructure as an accident prevention measure.

"We all would like to see our deliveries arrive sooner, but if time is truly money, then think about how much is lost when a crash shuts down an interstate for hours and hours," he said. "If we really want to increase efficiency, then we should be investing in improving our crumbling infrastructure and constructing an American highway system that's built for the 21st century."

Booker has also asked the U.S. Department of Transportation to conduct a review on truck weight limits, the Star-Ledger reported.

Morgan, the former star of "Saturday Night Live" and "30 Rock," and two others were critically injured, and comedian James "Uncle Jimmy Mack" McNair was killed in the accident on June 7, which involved a tractor-trailer and a limo bus on the Turnpike.

Kevin Roper, 35, of Jonesboro, Georgia, was driving a Walmart truck early Saturday in Cranbury Township when authorities said he apparently failed to slow for traffic ahead and then swerved to avoid a crash. Instead, authorities said his big rig smashed into the back of Morgan's chauffeured limo bus, causing it to overturn.

According to the criminal complaint, Roper operated the truck "without having slept for a period in excess of 24 hours, resulting in a motor vehicle accident." It doesn't specify the basis for that assertion.

Also in the wake of the accident, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has launched a plan to keep tired truck drivers off the road. He announced Sunday that he has asked the Department of Transportation to speed up a requirement that companies and drivers use electronic logging devices to accurately log hours driven. He says most truck drivers currently log their hours manually.

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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