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Seen At 11: Tractor-Trailer Trucks May Be Hauling Danger

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Big rigs pose a danger on the road.

In 2014, the number of people injured in crashes involving tractor-trailers increased 17 percent, and it's even more dangerous in the Tri-State Area.

On Friday, CBS2's Alex Denis exposed what is behind some trucks hauling danger.

"I know a lot of people have a fear of, you know, being next to a truck," said Dana Quinn.

But Quinn, the daughter of a truck driver, never did. That is, until four years ago, when her car was struck and dragged by an 18 wheeler.

"I remember opening my eyes and seeing paramedics trying to get me out," Quinn said.

There have been numerous local truck accidents in the Tri-State Area just recently – a tip-over on the Tappan Zee Bridge, a big rig left dangling from the Cross Bronx Expressway, and an 18-wheeler that plowed into cars on Route 17.

Robert Sinclair of AAA said most cities get 50 percent of their freight by rail, but the Tri-State Area only gets 5 percent. The other 95 percent is delivered on wheels.

"Lots of trucks, lots of pollution, lots of traffic," Sinclair said.

And there are lots of accidents too.

According to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles' most recent statistics, the state had nearly 12,000 large truck crashes in 2014.

In comparison, North Carolina -- a state similar in size -- had less than 10,000 over the span of a year.

"You couldn't make it more dangerous if we tried," said attorney Steven Schwartzapfel, who specializes in tractor trailer accidents. "The truck drivers are hardworking individuals. They're supporting families. But the corporate pressure is on them to drive faster and deliver more loads."

Couple that, Schwartzapfel said, with having to deal with distracted drivers and beat-up roads, and what is left is a recipe for disaster.

Additionally, critics charge road side weigh stations, which are supposed to conduct mandatory inspections of quantities such as a truck's weight and a driver's hours behind the wheel, have mostly been shuttered due to budget cuts.

A random check of six weigh stations around the Tri-State – on I-84 in Union, I-95 in Waterford, I-287 in Piscataway, I-495 in Medford, I-495 in Plainview, and I-684 in Bedford Hills – found all but one were closed.

"Unfortunately, it leads to safety compromises for us all," Sinclair said.

But new technology could help increase safety. Wabco Vehicle Control Systems developed radar detection for trucks that the company says will reduce rear-end collisions.

There is also now electronic stability control, or ESC, to prevent rollovers.

"When a vehicle is going too fast within a turn, ESC will slow the vehicle down," said Jon Morrison of Wabco.

Quinn underwent surgery for severe back and neck injuries. Admittedly now a much more nervous driver, she said she is back behind the wheel and carrying some precious cargo of her own – namely a baby.

As of August of next year, all heavy trucks will be required, by law to have electronic stability control.

Meanwhile, studies from American Trucking Associations and the federal government show more times than not, car drivers are actually at fault when cars and trucks collide.

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