Motor Vehicle Fatalities in New Jersey at All-Time Low

state police tlsMotor vehicle fatalities in New Jersey are at an all-time low. Preliminary statistics indicate that there were 508 crashes resulting in 544 people killed on New Jersey roadways during the 2013 calendar year. That’s a tragically high number, but it is eight percent lower than 2012 when there were 589 fatalities. That is the lowest number of lives lost in motor vehicle crashes since the New Jersey State Police began recording these deaths more than 30 years ago.

The previous record low was set in 2010, when the New Jersey State Police reported 556 fatalities. Traffic deaths have been cut in half since 1981 when 1,160 were recorded. Even at these new lows, deaths from motor vehicle crashes are still unacceptably high.

This holiday season, two fatal crashes were reported during the Christmas holiday and one on New Year’s Day. This is an encouraging improvement from previous years.

Seat belt usage took a big hit in 2012, falling to 88.3 percent from 94.5 percent the previous year. This number still remains above the national average of 86 percent. Watch for additional seatbelt enforcement in 2014. Safer vehicles, engineering improvements to roadways, and better trauma care have contributed to the reduction in fatalities. Driver safety education and enforcement of roadway laws have undoubtedly helped also.

Law enforcement’s biggest challenge to traffic fatalities is the advent of many more driver distractions from portable digital devices including smart phones, tablets, GPS units, and even satellite radio receivers being used in cars.

“Ultimately, safer driving is a decision every single driver must make, every time they sit in that driver’s seat,” said New Jersey State Police Superintendent, Colonel Rick Fuentes. [TLS]

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