Freight shipments in New Jersey are among the highest in the country, and truck shipments are projected to increase at one of the fastest rates in the nation, according to a pro-trucking industry trade group.

Rocky Moretti, director of policy and research at the Washington-based TRIP, says one takeaway from the report is "a warning sign that we need to increase our investment in the freight network, and it is not just highways. It is also rail, it's maritime, it's aviation. It is all of those components."

The TRIP report shows $900 billion worth of freight is being shipped annually to or from sites in New Jersey.

"And what that means is, obviously, anything that is coming into the state for consumers, for manufacturers, or anything being shipped out of the state from businesses, are absolutely a vital part of the state's economy," he said.

The report also shows that rate of freight commerce in New Jersey and elsewhere is likely to accelerate in the future. Moretti says the future investment should also concentrate on inter-modal facilities, "facilities that allow large containers to go from a ship on to a truck or from a truck, on or off of a rail car."

"It is a reflection of economic growth. It is also showing changes in consumer demand: We want things quicker, we want them faster. We're seeing greater automation of manufacturing. The business formatting is changing so that the businesses need to move the products faster and quicker and in higher volumes."

On the downside, their analysis shows 7 out of every 1 million people in the state were killed each year in accidents involving a large truck between 2013 and 2017.

"The data and the analysis tends to indicate that ... it is not typically the fault of the truck driver," Moretti said. "But that said, when you mix a large number of large trucks with passenger vehicles, obviously, there are risks involved in that. And we are seeing a significant increase in the number of trucks on the road, so it is absolutely vital that all safety features that can reduce those risks are put in place."

Joe Cutter is the senior news anchor on New Jersey 101.5

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