Monmouth County New Jersey Motor Vehicle Accidents Law Blog

FMCSA to carry out new big rig crash causation study

The trucking industry in New Jersey has changed over the years, and driver behaviors with it, which is why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will be conducting a new study on large truck crash causation. It was in 2006 that the FMCSA released the results of its last study. The proposal to carry out a new study was made in January 2020, and the FMCSA is gathering information on how to proceed.

Among other things, the organization will look at the increased role that calling and texting have in tow-away, injury and fatal truck accidents. Trucker distraction has also become more common with the presence of in-cab navigation systems and fleet management systems.

Motorists often oppose red light cameras despite safety benefits

Red light cameras are a contentious subject in New Jersey and around the country. Road safety advocates point to data that shows installing cameras on traffic signals prevents accidents and saves lives, but many motorists believe the devices are primarily used to generate revenue for cash-strapped municipalities. Red light cameras were in use in 533 American cities and towns in 2012, but that figure has since dropped to just 421. Deaths caused by red-light runners rose by 17% in the years following the removal of the cameras.

Road safety groups advocate for red light cameras because motorists cannot be relied upon to act responsibly at intersections. More than four in 10 of the drivers surveyed recently by the American Automobile Association admitted to driving through a red light at least once during the previous 30 days despite knowing that doing so was both unacceptable and extremely dangerous. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, accidents caused by red-light running claimed almost 900 lives in 2017.

How can daydreaming do damage while driving?

It can be all too easy to drift off into a daydream during a long car ride. After a while, the road can become monotonous. You might find yourself thinking about how good it will feel to reach your destination, stretch your legs and embark on fun adventures. Even on your commute home from work, it can be easy to imagine the comfort of your home that's waiting for you.

While it's impossible not to think about other things while you're driving, it can be dangerous to fall into a daydream when you're behind the wheel.

Distractions persist among truckers as hands-free phone use rises

Although hands-free cell phones increase safety for commercial truck drivers in New Jersey, they do not guarantee that drivers remain focused on the road. Lytx, a company that tracks commercial driver behavior with video telematics, has collected evidence that some drivers using hands-free cell phones sometimes engage in other distracting activities.

Hands-free devices reduce distraction compared to holding phones, but conducting a hands-free conversation remains distracting. Talking to someone else divides a driver's attention and naturally subtracts from monitoring traffic. Additionally, Lytx determined that 23% of the distracted drivers that it observed had engaged in multiple risky actions at the same time. They often did other things, like eat or smoke, while also using a hands-free device.

AAA Foundation study: car safety tech causes distraction

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has analyzed the safety features on a number of newer vehicles, including the Tesla Model S, Acura MDX, Ford Fusion and Hyundai Sonata, and it has come to an important conclusion. Drivers in New Jersey should know that two features in particular are liable to make them complacent behind the wheel: adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist.

The first maintains a safe following distance by accelerating and decelerating without driver input, and the second prevents the car from drifting out of its lane by tugging at the steering wheel. Both features still require drivers to control the steering wheel and be alert to their surroundings. Drivers who are ignorant of this requirement, though, overestimate the ability of these features and assume that they can drive distracted without a risk.

Tips from the AASM for avoiding drowsy driving

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine is clear that drowsy driving is 100% preventable. Unfortunately, many in New Jersey and across the U.S. engage in it. The AASM conducted a Sleep Prioritization Survey involving 2,003 adults, and 45% admitted that they have struggled sometimes to keep their eyes open while behind the wheel.

Drowsiness causes drivers to make poor decisions and react slowly to dangers. Drivers can even fall asleep, in which case an accident is most surely to occur. Every year, an average of 6,400 fatal car crashes are due to drowsy driving, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Since drowsy driving is preventable, the AASM has provided some tips on how to go about with prevention.

Preventing a jackknifing incident

Drivers in New Jersey should know that jackknifing is not just common among big rigs. It can happen with cars towing trailers and boats. Truckers, though, are the primary individuals who should consider the following tips that can help prevent a jackknifing incident on the highway.

Trailer swing is one of the warning signs that jackknifing will occur, so truckers should check their mirrors for it every so often. They should be aware that there are two types of jackknifing: trailer jackknifing, where the trailer wheels lose traction, and tractor jackknifing, involving the tractor wheels. The former is caused by harsh braking while the latter may be due to sudden acceleration.

Study shows the growing road safety dangers of opioid use

Drivers who cause fatal car accidents in New Jersey and around the country are more than twice as likely to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol as the other motorists involved. This was what researchers from Columbia University discovered after studying accident data on more than 18,000 deadly crashes from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, which is managed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The results of the study were published in the February 2019 issue of JAMA Network Open.

The researchers were not surprised to discover that 5,258 of the motorists found responsible for causing the accidents were driving under the influence of alcohol while only 1,815 of the other drivers involved consumed alcohol before getting behind the wheel. However, they were shocked to find out how common opioid impairment on the nation's roads has become. Only 2% of the drivers involved in fatal accidents in 1993 tested positive for opioids. That number has since more than tripled.

Truck accidents, and their five common causes

Collisions between large trucks and passenger vehicles are usually due to one of five things. Drivers in New Jersey should know these five factors as it may help them be more responsible while sharing the road with big rigs. The first is driver error. In the majority (81%) of truck crashes that involve error, the passenger vehicle driver is at fault. However, truckers can nevertheless cause a crash through drowsy, drunk, drugged or distracted driving.

Inclement weather is behind many crashes, too, since trucks pose a specific threat when the roads are wet, icy or snowy. Inexperienced truckers may brake too harshly and cause the rig to skid, hydroplane or jackknife.

Distracted driving is a major roadway danger

Distracted driving has a serious impact on roadway safety in New Jersey. Every day, across the country, nine people lose their lives and 100 more are injured, often severely, in motor vehicle collisions linked to drivers who are distracted or inattentive. There are a number of causes of distracted driving. Perhaps the best-known is texting or surfing the internet while using a cellphone behind the wheel, but smartphones are not the only problem. Some drivers are easily distracted by the touchscreen entertainment and GPS systems built into many newer vehicles while other accidents and problems on the road outside the car are common reasons for driving while distracted.

The costs are significant. Car crashes linked to distracted driving rack up $40 million annually. In comparison, accidents caused by driving under the influence cost $44 million every year. Despite widespread public service advertisements and awareness campaigns aiming to decrease the danger linked to driving inattentively, drivers continue to behave dangerously behind the wheel. Almost half of all drivers openly admitted to texting or surfing the internet while operating a vehicle in one survey while 60% admitted to using their mobile phones in other ways. Younger drivers are most likely to admit to driving while distracted.

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