Last year was a deadly and tragic year on New Jersey highways and roads as more than 700 people died in automobile crashes as of last Saturday, according to statistics released this week from the New Jersey State Police headquarters in Trenton.
According to the stats, there were 662 fatal crashes that resulted in 706 people killed. The number surpasses recent figures in is the highest number of traffic-related deaths in 15 years. Most of the people killed in the crashes were between the ages of 50-64. The figures also include passengers, pedestrians and cyclists that died as a result of collisions. There were at least nine fatalities in the state over the recent New Year’s Eve weekend celebration.
The increase in highway deaths is somewhat surprising due to the decrease of people traveling to and from work as a result of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. Additionally, 193 pedestrians and 17 cyclists died across the state last year and 177 elderly drivers age 50 and over were killed in crashes. The county with the greatest number of fatalities included Middlesex, 68, which includes Edison, Woodbridge and New Brunswick; Burlington County, 59, includes Bordentown, Maple Shade and Mount Laurel and Monmouth County 58, includes Freehold, Long Branch and Asbury Park. Essex County which includes the city of Newark had 57 fatalities.
Tracy Noble, Manager of Government and Public Affairs and a spokesperson for AAA-Midlantic said distracted driving continues to be a major cause of many motor vehicle crashes and fatalities, despite various laws and mandates being implemented in recent years to combat distractions when behind the wheel. In a statement, Noble said, “Despite safer roads, safer vehicles and stronger safety laws on the books, the U.S. Has witnessed more, not less, death on our roadways.” Noble added that AAA is poised to take action, legislative or otherwise in an effort to lower traffic-related fatalities.
Similarly the State Division of Highway Traffic Safety announced an initiatives to distribute $30 million in federal funds for various safety and driver training programs. The Safe Systems Approach (SSA) was adopted by the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2022 and focuses on safer roads, vehicles speeds and the behavior of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians and what to do following a crash.