Increase of freight tonnage could mean more truck accidents in NJ

The number of tractor trailers on U.S. roadways is expected to increase, which may cause a rise in large truck accidents, deaths and injuries.

The number of people killed in large truck accidents across the country has risen significantly over the past few years, and some believe that the fatality rate will continue to grow. Motorists in New Jersey and across the country may see an increase in the number of tractor trailers filling the nation's roadways, according to the Commercial Carrier Journal.

After reviewing trends in the U.S. economy, the American Trucking Association expects the amount of freight tonnage to grow by 23.5 percent within the next 10 years. As trucking is the main form of transportation used for this freight, this means more heavy trucks will appear on American roads. Some people believe that this increase could lead to more large truck accidents, injuries and deaths.

More freight, fewer truck drivers

Some companies have had difficulties keeping up with the demand. A current shortage of qualified truck drivers only amplifies the problem. According to Bloomberg Business, many potential truck drivers have chosen other occupations partly due to the fact that the pay for truck drivers does not offer substantial compensation for spending long amounts of time away from family. As a result, some trucking companies have encouraged truck drivers to work overtime and have started employing less-than-qualified drivers.

How does this affect motorists?

Drivers may start sharing the road with more drowsy, distracted and untrained truckers. In some cases, truck drivers may violate federal Hours of Service regulations that require them to take mandatory breaks and rest periods. By driving for longer periods of time, truckers are more likely to meet stringent delivery deadlines, distribute more freight and ultimately make more money. At the same time, though, their risk of causing a fatal crash rises.

Truck drivers may also become more distracted when spending longer amounts of time on the road. Although truckers are prohibited from using cellphones while driving, some use their cellular devices to check email, text and even watch movies. These distractions can deter truckers from focusing on the road and decreases their ability to react to dangers, including slowed traffic, people or objects in the road, inclement weather conditions and reckless motorists.

Fatality facts

All of these dangers have contributed to a climbing large truck fatality rate, from 3,211 deaths in 2009 to 3,906 deaths in 2013, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In New Jersey alone, 64 people were killed in catastrophic truck accidents in 2013. Motorists are encouraged to pay attention to large trucks and drive cautiously around them in order to avoid becoming involved in a tragic accident.

Surviving the aftermath of a truck accident

The sheer size, weight and length of a tractor trailer is enough to cause serious property damage and extensive injuries. It can be difficult to deal with insurance companies and other legalities while suffering from the physical and emotional aftereffects of a big rig collision. A personal injury attorney in New Jersey may provide the legal counsel you need to make wise decisions during this difficult time.