A New Jersey father and son recently lost their lives after a driver plowed into their car and then hit and killed the gas station attendant pumping their gas. The accident was incredibly tragic, particularly after details emerged that the driver appeared to be overdosing on drugs when the crash occurred.
The vehicle hit the curb and went airborne
Vehicle accidents like these are not uncommon in New Jersey. A similar crash occurred in Englewood on Route 4 just a few weeks before. According to NorthJersey.com, a car driving on Route 4 hit a curb, went airborne and plowed into a gas station. The vehicle just missed a row of gasoline pumps before it crashed into another gas station.
Gas station accidents occur all the time
Emre Akuz is an employee at the gas station where that car landed. He stated they have accidents there nearly every other day, including one that had occurred earlier that day.
Many stations sit too close to the highway
Part of the problem is the design of older gas stations. Many of these gas stations were built before World War II. This was before urban planners knew how much space vehicles need to accelerate, turn and stop when exiting the highway. Many of these gas stations sit far too close to the highway.
The Delta gas station in Wayne where Jon Warbeck, his son Luke and attendant Lovedeep Fatra died is one such station. The pump where the accident occurred is just 24 feet and 10 inches from the highway. Current zoning code in Wayne bans structures within 75 feet of highways.
The owner of the gas station, Billy Kahn, does not know exactly when the station was built. But it appears to predate these modern zoning requirements.
The Wayne gas station is not the only station that does not meet modern zoning thresholds. NorthJersey.com identified a slew of gas stations in the area that sit far too close to the highway. They identified at least nine that are 22.8 to 34.9 feet from the highway.
Older stations are grandfathered in
These stations can continue operating because the businesses have been grandfathered in. However, any stations that remodel must bring their buildings up to modern code. New Jersey does not statewide rules guiding gas station zoning, so these laws vary by municipality.
Kahn plans to replace the Delta station and is currently trying to secure financing.
However, many of these older gas stations still exist. Even if stations are remodeled, the businesses may sit near old, poorly-designed highways, like the Englewood station. For the time being, it seems using many New Jersey gas stations will remain dangerous for drivers and gas station workers alike.
A New Jersey driver who is seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident may be able to hold the other driver accountable for his or her negligence.