Despite crashes, N.J. Turnpike called one of U.S.’s safest roads
For the second time in less than 10 days, a fiery crash on the New Jersey Turnpike left drivers in a standstill for hours, but officials say the major roadway is still one of the safest in the U.S.
One tractor-trailer sideswiped another on the northbound side of the Turnpike Wednesday night in East Brunswick, engulfing both vehicles in flames. Earlier this month, both sides of the roadway were shuttered for half a day after a dump truck caught fire underneath an overpass in Linden.
"Occasionally we get these really spectacular accidents or crashes involving fire out on the Turnpike," Capt. Stephen Jones of the New Jersey State Police said. "It's just a coincidence when you get a couple of them close together."
Jones said when looking at the overall picture, the Turnpike per mile traveled is one of the safest roadways in the entire country.
"These things occur really on any kind of roadway, but because the Turnpike's got such a heavy volume of truck traffic, you're going to see these things," he said.
Offering advice to regular motorists and commuters, Jim Lardear of AAA Mid-Atlantic said it's somewhat healthy to be intimidated by large trucks on the road.
"When they're driving, they have very limited visibility and really large blind spots," Lardear said. "Just because they're huge and you can see them doesn't necessarily mean they're going to be able to see you."
A portion of the Turnpike allows drivers in smaller vehicles to avoid trucks and buses completely by using a different roadway.
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For the times you're forced to share the road with large trucks, Lardear suggests:
- Avoid driving alongside or close behind a truck.
- Don't pass a truck on the right-hand side. Use the left lane for passing.
- Give plenty of clearance in times of strong wind when trucks can create their own currents.
Eyewitnesses reported a series of explosions following the latest crash. According to the State Police, one truck was carrying oxygen tanks, and they were responsible for the subsequent pops.
No major injuries were reported. One driver had to be treated for minor burns.