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How can studying large truck crashes help New Jersey residents?

Because many of the worst automobile crashes involve big rigs, it's not surprising that government and state agencies devote many resources to safety initiatives to help prevent them. The size and typical use of these 18-wheelers can create dangerous situations for passenger vehicles, and there are higher standards applied to truck drivers and trucking companies as a result. Victims involved in truck crashes are often in need of substantial compensation to recover.

Government statistical and regulatory facts and analyses help to improve road safety. They also may strengthen victims' cases when used to investigate truck accident causes and contributing factors.

An example of this type of study is the Large Truck Crash Causation Study. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration combined efforts several years ago to research and document a nationally representative sample of about 1,000 large truck accidents. Through detailed descriptions of the physical causation of the collisions, weather and roadway conditions, trucking company policies and procedures, vehicles themselves and driver information, researchers have compiled a database of facts and figures that can assist investigators with accident reconstruction.

The cause of a truck accident can be looked at from two perspectives: the necessary factor and the risk-increasing factor. A necessary factor refers to one whereby if it had not been involved, the accident wouldn't have happened. The LTCSS Database utilizes risk-increasing factors, meaning the circumstances that increased the probability of an accident. While the goal of the study is to aid in reducing the number of crashes involving semi trucks, it can also provide insight through objective measures into driver fatigue, alertness and regulatory compliance.

New Jersey residents spend countless hours on our interstate highways, city streets and country roads. Big rig trucks can be found on all these thoroughfares. Initiatives designed to lessen serious injuries or fatalities are welcome, but so are facts, analyses and conclusions that can support and strengthen claims for victims' compensation and recovery.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, "Large Truck Crash Causation Study Analysis Series," accessed May. 21, 2015

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Gary D. Ginsberg is a Certified Civil Trial Lawyer who has been recognized as an expert in litigating cases in the courts of New Jersey.

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