In June of this year, two horrific crashes on the New Jersey Turnpike snarled traffic for miles and raised concerns about the safety of large commercial trucks traveling throughout the Garden State at highway speeds. On June 8, two people were killed when a tractor-trailer truck overturned on the Turnpike southbound, at milepost 104.4, around Interchange 14 and just outside Newark Liberty International Airport. Multiple vehicles were involved in the crash that happened at 4:35 p.m., and multiple injuries were reported by the website patch.com. Then, less than a week later, a flipped tractor-trailer crushed a passenger car on the Turnpike’s eastern spur northbound between the Vince Lombardi Service Area and the western spur. NBC New York reported that the accident which occurred on June 14 before 7 a.m. backed up morning rush traffic for miles. Miraculously, the driver of the crushed car was unhurt, but the injured truck driver was taken to the hospital.
The occurrence of two eerily similar accidents in such a short period of time has to create concern for commuters, truckers, and state authorities. What is it that causes potentially deadly rollovers, and what steps can be taken to prevent them?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration collects data on commercial truck crashes. An analysis of this data undertaken by the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine found several factors that contribute to rollover crashes:
- Misjudging speed on curves —The majority of rollovers occur on curves, primarily on- and off- ramps where drivers’ misjudgment leads to excessive speeds.
- Truck driver inattention — “Inattention, dozing and distraction” often take the truck off-course, requiring a sudden course correction that leads to a rollover.
- Vehicle control errors —”Three control errors that are relatively unique to truck rollovers are turning too sharply, turning too little to remain on the road and overcorrecting path errors.”
- Excessive speed — AAAM’s analysis showed that “A quarter of rollovers result from failure to adjust speed to the height and weight of the load being carried.”
AAAM’s study concluded that rollover crashes are primarily due to an error on the part of the driver, so the organization believes the most effective remedy is better driver training. AAAM suggests requiring driver training programs to include simulation drills that “allow drivers to experience the results of rollover inducing errors without the consequences.”
Other factors that contribute less often to rollers are the condition of the truck and interference by another driver. The latter point is one all drivers must consider. There are specific rules for sharing the road with big rigs, but too few drivers learn them or adhere strictly enough to them. Driving in a trucker’s blind spot, cutting in front of a tractor-trailer, or braking too sharply in front of a truck can trigger a jackknife that results in a rollover. Please drive responsibly around big rigs for the safety of all concerned.
Brach Eichler Injury Lawyers represents victims of trucking accidents throughout New Jersey. To speak to an experienced personal injury attorney at our firm, call us at 973-364-8300 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.