NJ Drivers Are Saving Lives, But Not Enough

texting-while-driving-2Last Sunday was the day federal and state governments and lots of men and women in blue suggested that we drive extra, extra carefully in an attempt to set a new road safety record. This annual program, called Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day, has maintained the same simple goal each Oct. 10 since it began in 2000: Everyone who participates gets to live another day.

In other words, by “driving as if our lives depend on it,” as one traffic safety official put it, motorists would be able to celebrate a fatality-free day.

But once again, a few folks didn’t get the memo.

Oct. 10 produced three New Jersey deaths this year, including two head-on collisions — one on Route 18 in the Middlesex County town of Piscataway and the other on Route 94 in the Sussex County township of Hampton. The third death was in Somerset County on Route 78 in Warren Township where two cars collided before each hit a tree. Only one of the drivers survived.

None occurred in Bergen or Passaic counties, but any death is cause for mourning.

No one I talk to in public safety can remember an Oct. 10 in which death took a holiday on New Jersey roads. Usually, two people die on this date, which is technically more than the daily average death count, which is 1.6. That means Sunday’s figure — 3 — is roughly twice the average, which might suggest that a day commemorating zero fatalities is stupid, or at least a colossal marketing mistake.

It isn’t.

We need to be reminded of such things. It’s no more stupid than designating a November day for eating turkey as a 24-hour period for giving thanks for America’s bounty. It’s no more a mistake than reserving a day in February for expressing to the one we love most that he or she is, well, the one we love most.

It’s hard to be too critical of an effort that tries to keep us from killing ourselves by speeding, drinking, getting distracted, ignoring traffic signals and driving unbelted. Like Valentine’s Day and Thanksgiving Day, the idea is to devote one day to creating enough momentum to carry us through the rest of the year. Read full story in North Jersey.

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