NY Bridge

Early this week, a North Carolina truck driver was allegedly involved in a hit-and-run accident on the George Washington Bridge. One person was killed, and two others were seriously injured in the crash.

The bridge, which is sometimes called the “GW Bridge” or the “GWB,” is a very heavily traveled, double-decked, suspension bridge that crosses the Hudson River between the states of New York and New Jersey.

Its primary function is serve motor vehicle traffic between the New Jersey city of Fort Lee and the Manhattan area of New York City, although its upper deck also allows pedestrian and bicycle traffic. It was the subject of the 2013 “Bridgegate” scandal, which involved the closure of certain toll lanes leading to the bridge.

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truck cabIt’s not clear whether famed New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra really said, “It’s like deja vu all over again,” but the phrase is widely attributed to him, nevertheless.

As we report to you the third – yes, third – instance of a roll-away truck wreaking havoc here in North Carolina in recent months, we think we know what he meant.

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bridgeAny vehicle that has a large amount of surface area exposed to cross winds can be considered a “high profile” vehicle. This includes not only vans and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) but also tractor-trailers, big rigs, 18-wheelers, and the like. Such vehicles tend to be “top heavy” with a higher center of gravity than other vehicles, making them more prone to rollover accidents.

High profile vehicles can be especially dangerous in high winds. An inexperienced driver can lose control of a high profile vehicle even with a modest amount of wind if he or she is not careful, and it is important that professional truck drivers understand and appreciate the dangers of driving such vehicles.

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A terrible tractor-trailer accident happened in Forsyth County, North Carolina, on the afternoon of October 30, 2014, claiming three lives and causing several other injuries. One of those killed in the crash was only nine years old. According to news reports, the wreck happened on U.S. 52 near Tobaccoville in a construction zone. Two lanes of traffic were attempting to merge down into a single lane, causing a line of vehicles to be stopped on the road.

Recently, the driver of the truck that allegedly caused the crash appeared in court to enter a plea of guilty to criminal charges lodged by the State of North Carolina following the accident.

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rural roadLate last year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA, a division of the United States Department of Transportation) released a new document analyzing “Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts” for the most recently available statistical year.

While every crash is unique, there is much to be learned in studying and understanding truck accidents from a statistical standpoint.

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construction vehicle

Just a few months ago, we told you about a truck accident in Georgia that claimed a young mother’s life. She died because a careless truck driver failed to put on the truck’s brakes while making a safety inspection. The driver was charged criminally and eventually pled guilty to vehicular homicide and involuntary manslaughter.

Now, a young North Carolina boy has lost his life in another “runaway truck” accident.

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It is truly frightening to consider the many hazardous chemicals that are being transported over our North Carolina roadways at any given moment, especially knowing that we may be driving alongside such potentially deadly loads as we transport our children to a ballgame or take an aging relative to the doctor.

Two recent truck accidents in neighboring states illustrate the potential danger.

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trash truck

Late last month, a trash truck ran off the road and overturned in Salisbury, throwing the driver from the truck. According to news reports, the driver was “confused” at the scene and is now facing a criminal charge of driving while impaired (DWI).

Although the driver himself was reportedly injured in the crash, there was no indication that other vehicles were involved. This is very fortunate, since a collision between a large truck and a smaller vehicle holds the potential for devastating injuries to those in the smaller vehicle. Tragically, many such accidents also result in fatalities.

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bananasIn this busy time of the year, many of us spend a considerable amount of time on the road. Whether heading off to a college football game at our alma mater, getting a jump start on holiday shopping, or just running the kids to one activity after another, we spend a lot of our time driving.

Unfortunately, frequent travel has a tendency to put motorists in harm’s way, since there is little choice but to share the road with large trucks, many of which are being driven by truckers who are too tired to operate an 80,000-pound tractor-trailer safely.

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truck crashDepending upon which source you consult, there either is or will soon be a serious shortage of professional truck drivers in the United States. For example, a 2015 analysis of the issue by the American Trucking Associations (ATA) states that there have been at least intermittent shortages of drivers for the past 15 years and predicts that, “by 2024, the shortage could be as high as 174,500.”

So what does this mean for the average family in North Carolina or elsewhere across the country?

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