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New Jersey truck accident raises safety concerns

On June 7, a New Jersey truck accident left a veteran comedian dead and several others seriously injured, including actor-comedian Tracy Morgan. The tragic accident has once again placed a spotlight on safety shortfalls within the trucking industry.

The June 7 accident involved a Walmart tractor trailer that careened into the back of a limo bus carrying the comedians and their colleagues after failing to brake for slowed traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike.

In the wake of the crash, it was reported that the driver of the truck had not slept in more than 24 hours. It is still unclear whether the truck driver fell asleep behind the wheel before causing the wreck.

Despite strict federal regulations requiring truck drivers to get a certain amount of rest time while on the road, fatigued driving continues to be a problem and is a factor in many fatal trucking accidents in the United States.

It was also reported after the accident that the Walmart big rig's cab was equipped with a state-of-the art collision-avoidance system that is supposed to apply the truck's brakes automatically after sensing that traffic had slowed.

Unfortunately, the technology didn't appear to do its job prior to the June 7 accident.

As a result, officials are questioning whether the technology, which includes a computer, blind-spot sensors and electronic controls, is effective in the first place.  

The National Transportation Safety Board says it now plans to investigate the technology, driver fatigue and other "broader issues concerning commercial truck safety."

While fatal trucking accidents were once on the decline in the United States, they have been increasing steadily since 2009, which the American Trucking Associations attributes to more big rigs on the road.

Following a fatal trucking accident, the loved ones of accident victims may not know where to turn for help and guidance. Although a lawsuit is probably the last thing on their minds, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help the family determine the cause of the accident and whether negligence played a role.

When negligence such as fatigued driving was involved, the family may be able to hold the trucker or trucking company responsible for their actions in effort to prevent future accidents from occurring.

Source: The Star-Ledger, "In wake of Tracy Morgan crash, rising truck fatalities lead to new scrutiny," Ted Sherman, June 15, 2014

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