A ccidents on the road are most often associated with car crashes, but in reality there are a variety of other vehicles responsible for serious injuries and occasional fatalities. Drivers and passengers can be injured in motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, bus accidents and pedestrian accidents in New Jersey. Parker Waichman LLP has a wealth of experience representing New Jersey individuals who have been injured in these types of accidents. We’re here to help answer any questions you may have about an accident with a car or any other type of vehicle. Call our office today at 973-323-3603 for a free, no-obligation evaluation of your case.
Statistics show that motorcycle fatalities are increasing over time, according to the New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety, in the Office of the state’s Attorney General; 377 motorcyclists died on New Jersey’s highways between 2003 and 2007. In that time, the number of motorcycle registrations jumped up 17 percent. According to the Federal Highway Authority, there are roughly 2,500 motorcycle accidents on New Jersey’s roadways every year. These accidents lead to at least 70 deaths and about 2,000 injuries each year in the state.
The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office states that more than half of motorcycle collisions with other vehicles occur at an intersection. Over two-thirds of these accidents happen because the driver of the other vehicle does not see the motorcyclist. Motorcycle crashes that don’t involve other vehicles involve excessive speed, inexperienced riders, or corners and turns.
A motorcycle accident can be even more traumatic than a car accident because the rider has very little physical protection. Other than a helmet, there is practically nothing to absorb the impact of a collision. According to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), motorcyclists are 37 times more likely to die in a crash compared to someone who is driving an automobile. Statistics cited by the Department of Law & Public Safety show that you have a 75 percent chance of being injured if you’re involved in a New Jersey motorcycle crash. Wearing a helmet decreases your chance of being injured. In fact, New Jersey law states that a motorcyclist must wear a properly sized helmet approved by the federal Department of Transportation (DOT) in order to ride the motorcycle.
Given their large size, truck accidents can be particularly catastrophic. One of the major causes of truck accidents is driver fatigue. NPR reports that because of impending deadlines, drivers will sometimes push themselves beyond their limits and get into an accident. According to the Department of Transportation, 13 percent of the 3,000 to 4,000 truck and bus fatalities every year are caused by fatigued drivers. One truck driver heading from New Jersey to Georgia told NPR that a good trucker should always know his limits. "Bottom line is, anybody that's been [driving] for a while or has a good head on their shoulders is going to know when they're gonna need to stop," said driver Troy Wittmer.
Like trucks and other large-sized vehicles, accidents involving buses can have gruesome outcomes. A study published in 2009 showed that 221 fatal bus accidents happen every year. Statistics suggest that most (15 out of 19) bus accidents are the driver’s fault. The bus driver may cause an accident by speeding, failing to account for weather conditions, feeling fatigued, making abrupt lane changes or veering off the road.
In certain parts of New Jersey, bus accidents may be even more relevant due to the high use of public transportation. Forbes reports that 56 percent of Hoboken’s working population commutes each day by public transportation. Whether it is the Port Authority Trans-Hudson, PATH train, ferries or other NJ Transit trains, numerous New Jersey residents take public transportation on a daily basis to get to New York and other areas of New Jersey.
School Bus Accidents
WebMD reports that from a statistical standpoint, the rate of school bus accidents is relatively low, with a death rate of 0.2 per 100 million miles. This might sound like an acceptable number, but this changes when you look at what those statistics actually mean; in the 11 years between 1994 and 2004, 71 passengers died in school bus crashes. The death or injury of a child in a school bus accident is unacceptable, especially if it can be prevented through better safety measures.
Believe it or not, federal law does not require most school buses to have seat belts. This issue gets brought up every time a school bus accident makes national headlines. Some states, including New Jersey, have laws requiring lap belts but not ones that go over the shoulder and lap. These seat belts lack the “three-point restraint” found with car belts.
New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the country. With this in mind, the state’s Department of Transportation emphasizes the importance of exercising caution among drivers and pedestrians. According to the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety, 159 pedestrians were killed on New Jersey streets. Pedestrian deaths account for more than one-quarter of all traffic fatalities in New Jersey.
NJ.com reflects on the tragic death of one college student, a 21-year-old who was struck by a vehicle at a four-way intersection. "The driver was distracted, reaching for an iced tea or something, and just went through the stop sign," said the student’s father. The accident “happened in broad daylight,” the father added. Because of stories like this one, new laws have been put into place. As of April 2010, drivers are required by law to come to an absolute stop when a pedestrian enters the crosswalk. Prior to this, drivers were only required to yield. Authorities say the ambiguity of this guideline has led to one of the highest rates of pedestrian deaths in the country. Attorney General Paula Dow said: "With these changes to our law, motorists and pedestrians will no longer have to play a game of chicken when it comes to maneuvering on our roadways.” She added that “it is not enough to simply slow down."