Truckers say they follow the rules, despite pressures of demanding job

Accidents have many questioning the safety of big rigs, and whether drivers follow the rules that are put in place. (6/12/14)

WOODBRIDGE - The deadly crash on the George Washington Bridge Thursday morning is the third fatal tractor-trailer accident in five days in New Jersey.

A crash involving a tractor-trailer killed a motorist in Carlstadt on Monday, one day after a man travelling with Tracy Morgan died on the New Jersey Turnpike.

The accidents have many questioning the safety of big rigs, and whether drivers follow the rules that are put in place.

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The traffic jam at the bridge put truckers like Brian Sargeant, of Massachusetts, hours behind schedule. He says those are hours most don't have to spare, since federal regulations keep them from driving more than 11 hours a day and require rest.

"It takes away from my drive time - sitting there for four hours," Sargeant says.

Retired trucker Linwood McNeil, of West Orange, says these days most large companies have installed technology to ensure drivers stop when they are supposed to. But independent drivers may be more lenient with the law.

"These are guys who will run and run and run until they fall asleep and eventually kill somebody," McNeil says.

Most drivers say they understand the rules and regulations are for their safety and that they do follow them, but they also admit it's difficult to abide by the rules. Many say they know others who haven't.

"The company puts pressure on you to do the job and sometimes you have to drive more than allowed," says Albert Felis, of North Bergen.

McNeil says it's no secret. "It's a matter of, do you want to continue to push yourself and put your life in jeopardy and those on the highway with you?"

Drivers say one of the reasons they squeeze as many miles as they can each day is because many get paid by the mile.

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