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Toll Increase on New Jersey Turnpike Results in Less Traffic

In vehicle traffic law news, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority has released official figures on the number of cars and trucks using their thoroughfare following a rather significant toll increase in January. Not surprisingly, they show that many motorists may be seeking alternative routes.

At the end of 2008, officials indicated that the toll for using the Turnpike would increase by a whopping 53 percent beginning in January 2012, much to the chagrin of truckers and motorists alike.

In order to determine how the toll hike was affecting the rate of traffic, the Turnpike Authority sought to compare figures from January 2011 to January 2012. Specifically, they compared 19 days between the two months instead of all 31 days. (Here, the reasoning behind this smaller statistical comparison was that the weather in January 2011 was much harsher than in January 2012.)

Officials found that commercial traffic (i.e., trucks) declined by 7.5 percent from January 2011 to January 2012, and that car traffic decreased by 3.5 percent during this same timeframe.

Turnpike officials attributed this lower rate of traffic -- particularly among truckers -- to a variety of factors other than the toll increase.

"I think it's less the specifics of the toll increase and more about commercial traffic, gas prices and the economy," said Ronnie Hakim, a Turnpike Authority executive director.

However, many in the trucking industry say it is only the tolls that are causing truckers to abandon the Turnpike.

"[Truckers] are mad as hell. They do not believe the hikes were justified," said Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. "We hear from many who are supporting any and all efforts to rein in the Turnpike Authority. I'm surprised that even more trucks haven't abandoned the route."

It is worth noting that even though the traffic rates on the Turnpike declined in January 2012, the amount of toll revenue taken in was rather sizeable. Specifically, the total amount of money collected on the Turnpike tolls and the Garden State Parkway tolls -- which also saw a 50 percent increase in January 2012 -- was $104.3 million. This is approximately $37.4 million more than in January 2011.

Stay tuned for further developments from our New York vehicle traffic law blog ...

If you have been issued a traffic violation, fight to keep your driving privileges and your insurance premiums as low as possible. Consider contacting an attorney who understands New York's confusing legal system, and who can help you evaluate your options and make the right decisions.

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.


The Star-Ledger, "In first month since toll hike, N.J. Turnpike truck traffic hits a skid" Feb. 29, 2012

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