Pedestrian Killed by 18-Wheeler on Route 1&9 in Elizabeth, NJ
Elizabeth, NJ -- June 30, 2021, a pedestrian was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer in an early-morning crash on Route 1 and 9 in Union County.
Authorities say the incident happened some time before 4:10 a.m. when police were notified of an accident on Route 1&9 near East Jersey Street. Preliminary investigation suggests only that an unidentified pedestrian was walking in the area when they were struck by a commercial 18-wheeler and suffered critical injuries. The driver remained at the scene after the collision and cooperated with investigators.
The victim was pronounced dead a short time later.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation. No further information is currently available.
Commentary on Fatal Auto-Pedestrian Accident on Route 1&9 in Elizabeth
Folks may think crashes like this generally reduce to who had the right-of-way. That's certainly an important consideration, but right-of-way isn't actually all that matters.
Generally speaking, a big part of these fatal incidents is how avoidable they were. To that end investigators must consider and examine many variables beyond simply whose right to be there superseded the other's. For instance, they must determine exactly where the pedestrian was, how fast they and the truck were moving, how visible they both were to one another, and whether or not the driver could reasonably have stopped or steered clear before hitting the victim.
If a reasonably prudent professional driver couldn't reasonably have avoided hitting the pedestrian, then it would be unfair to hold the one on Route 1&9 accountable for the crash. However, if careful analysis shows there was ample light and warning for the driver to take evasive action or simply stop before the impact, that may mean the driver and by extension his employer are liable for the irreversible damage dealt to the victim.
To be clear, I'm not coming down on the truck driver here. There's no way to draw any conclusions about whether anything could have been done until more evidence is uncovered. However, I've seen many instances where clearly-illuminated pedestrians were accused of "coming from nowhere" even as they were no longer able to defend themselves. I also have a hard time believing that any professional driver worth their salt wouldn't be on the lookout for pedestrians in an urban area like this, even in the wee hours of the morning. That doesn't mean they acted negligently, only that the matter bears closer scrutiny to be sure all the answers are found.
Experience tells me getting those answers will come down to reconstructing the accident, going over any witness testimony, and ultimately concluding whether or not the truck driver should have seen the victim and acted accordingly. Are authorities dedicating enough time and resources to this incident to make sure those answers are found?