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New Jersey truck wrecks lead to safety concerns

After a series of New Jersey semi-truck accidents, including the crash that seriously injured Tracy Morgan and killed another, the National Transportation Safety Board began to look into the issues surrounding commercial truck safety. According to officials, there has been an increase in the number of fatal trucking accidents. Although some say the increase is due to an improving economy resulting in more tractor-trailers on the road, lawmakers have raised concerns about truck drivers' work schedules.

In the Tracy Morgan crash, Wal-Mart officials reported that the truck had a state-of-the-art cab and was equipped with advanced collision-avoidance systems. However, the systems were not helpful since the truck reportedly failed to slow down. Moreover, allegations that the truck driver had been awake for more than 24 hours began to surface, prompting the NTSB to investigate issues relating to driver fatigue as well as the usefulness of collision-avoidance systems, truck maintenance and testing for impairment.

In July 2013, new measures for truck safety went into place. The maximum number of hours per week a truck driver was allowed to be behind the wheel decreased from 80 hours to 70 hours. Additionally, it required drivers to take a break for 30 minutes after the first eight hours of driving. The trucking industry says that these changes did not allow for drivers to plan around traffic congestion or their breaks. However, truck safety advocates argue that the industry refuses to acknowledge the problem of driver fatigue in favor of increasing its profits.

After a semi-truck accident, injured victims may retain the services of an attorney in order to file a lawsuit. A victim might be faced with hefty medical bills, and they may be unable to work during their recovery. An attorney may be able to review a truck driver's schedule to determine if he or she exceeded the number of hours allowed behind the wheel by federal law.

Source: NJ.com, "In wake of Tracy Morgan crash, rising truck fatalities lead to new scrutiny", Ted Sherman, June 15, 2014

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