Many New Jersey residents are planning late summer escapes that include turnpike and interstate trips, which also inherently includes the risk of car accidents, including collisions involving large commercial trucks.
Perhaps you and your family are driving to the Jersey shore. Fun New Jersey says the top getaways are Seaside Heights, Ocean City, Ocean Grove, Point Pleasure and Wildwoods. Or maybe you have plans to explore NJ art and culture at places such as the Princeton University Art Museum, the Heritage Glass Museum in Glassboro, Howell Living History Farm in Lambertville, Cape May County Park & Zoo or the Empty Sky, 9/11 Memorial at Liberty State Park in Jersey City.
Wherever your summer plans take you in Jersey or beyond, we hope you’ll be safe on the highway.
New Jersey Accident Statistics
According to NJ State Police, in 2013, the latest year for which statistics are available, 48 fatal crashes occurred on seven interstate highways in the Garden State:
- I-80 – 13 fatalities
- I-95 (including the NJ Turnpike) – 11 fatalities
- I-78 – 8 fatalities
- I-195– 5 fatalities
- I-295 – 5 fatalities
- I-280 – 3 fatalities
- I-287 – 3 fatalities.
Of 508 fatal crashes in New Jersey in 2013, 31 involved tractor-trailers, which resulted in 34 deaths. Of those killed, only four were in a truck.
Because of their size and weight, large trucks are extremely dangerous to other drivers, passengers, pedestrians and bicyclists in a crash.
In any driving you do this summer, you’ll be safer if you avoid driving while impaired – by alcohol or drugs. You should also avoid driving while distracted using cell phones or similar devices.
The 2013 NJ traffic crash report says that driving while intoxicated (alcohol and/or drugs) was listed as the major contributing factor in 121 of the 508 fatal car crashes over the course of the year. There were 131 people killed as a result of these 121 crashes.
Top Five Driver Contributing Factors in Crashes
The top 5 contributing driver factors in NJ crashes reported in 2013 were:
- Driver inattention
- Unsafe speed
- Failure to yield right of way
- Failure to keep right (crossing the centerline)
- Failure to obey traffic control (stop sign, stoplight, railroad crossing signal, etc.).
Driving Around Large Trucks
In addition to avoiding all of these negligent activities while driving, a driver on an interstate or the turnpike should do their best to stay safe around large trucks.
The American Moving and Storage Association says in information published by Geico Insurance that car-and-truck crashes usually occur because the auto driver has inadvertently entered one of the truck driver’s blind spots. Large trucks have blind spots around the front, back and sides of their vehicles. If you are in one of these areas, the driver could possibly run into your car because he can’t see you.
The American Moving and Storage Association and Drive-Safely.net also caution:
- Stay clear of trucks in general. If at all possible, move ahead of a truck or simply slow down and let them move away from you. Do not ride beside a truck for any distance if you can avoid it. Large trucks are likely to kick up any road debris they encounter. Also If you are next to a big rig when one of its tires blows – a common occurrence – you could have shards of heavy rubber flying at you, as well as the potential of an out-of-control truck hurtling your way.
- As you pass a truck, make sure you can see the front of the truck in your rear-view mirror before pulling into the truck’s path.
- Do not swerve into the path of a truck or make any other maneuver that requires the trucker to stop suddenly. An 80,000-pound truck going 65 mph can take a full 300 feet – the length of a football field – to come to a stop after hitting the brakes.
- Never pass a truck on the right at an intersection, even if it looks like the lane is open. Truckers call this the “squeeze play.” Truck drivers sometimes have to swing widely to the left to safely negotiate a right turn, especially in urban areas. But they can’t see directly behind or beside them, so cutting in between the truck and the curb increases the possibility of a crash, or a “squeeze.” Pay attention to a truck’s turn signals and give them plenty of room to maneuver.