Pedestrian deaths remain a problem in New Jersey and now Gov. Chris Christie is being called on to do something about it.

Spencer Platt, Getty Images

New Jersey ranks 16th in the U.S. in the rate of pedestrians killed per 100,000 residents, according to AAA statistics.

And while the number of pedestrian death dropped last year in New Jersey, the statistics are still alarmingly high. According to AAA, there were 163 pedestrian deaths in 2015, compared to 170 in 2014 and 132 in 2013.

"For every pedestrian killed, two more are severely injured and 50 are struck," said Cathleen Lewis, public affairs and government relations director for AAA Northeast in New Jersey.

In 2013, pedestrian fatalities accounted for a total of 4,735 deaths nationwide.

Lewis said the problem has to be addressed because pedestrian deaths happen in every corner of the state.

"This is a problem that's seen across the state. It's not just about downtown. It's not just about highways. We have to find ways to address pedestrian crashes and fatalities in all areas of our state," Lewis said.

The problem could get worse as more people choose walking and bicycling as modes of transportation rather than taking a train, car or bus. In fact, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reported a 10 percent increase in those who reported cycling more between 2002 and 2012 in their National Survey of Bicyclist and Pedestrian Attitudes and Behavior report released in 2012.

"Pedestrian fatalities cut across age and gender, and it is a growing concern that can only be addressed by pulling together stakeholders to find comprehensive solutions," Lewis said.

A bill sitting on Christie's desk could help tackle the problem or at least help the state understand it.

The measure, which was passed by the Legislature on Jan. 11, calls for the creation of a 15-member Pedestrian Safety Study Commission to study, analyze and report on the causes of pedestrian deaths. The panel would also be charged with setting forth recommendations to address the issue.

"The commission created by this legislation will bring those stakeholders together and ensure the safety of the growing number of pedestrians on the roads," Lewis predicted. "I hope it becomes law."

Last week, the New Jersey State Police released preliminary figures of the number of pedestrian fatalities in each county for 2015. Essex County ranked worst. Warren County was once again the only county that did not experience a pedestrian death.

Here's the county-by-county breakdown:

  • Atlantic - 9 pedestrian deaths in 2015, 11 in 2014;
  • Bergen - 11 pedestrian deaths in 2015, 24 in 2014;
  • Burlington - 13 pedestrian deaths in 2015 and 2014;
  • Camden - 5  pedestrian deaths in 2015, 17 in 2014;
  • Cape May - 3 pedestrian deaths in 2015, 1 in 2014;
  • Cumberland - 4  pedestrian deaths in 2015, 3 in 2014;
  • Essex - 23 pedestrian deaths in 2015, 17 in 2014;
  • Gloucester - 5 pedestrian deaths in 2015, 7 in 2014;
  • Hudson - 17  pedestrian deaths in 2015, 7 in 2014;
  • Hunterdon - 2 pedestrian deaths in 2015, 1 in 2014;
  • Mercer - 4  pedestrian deaths in 2015, 7 in 2014;
  • Middlesex - 12 pedestrian deaths in 2015, 7 in 2014;
  • Monmouth - 16  pedestrian deaths in 2015, 13 in 2014;
  • Morris - 5  pedestrian deaths in 2015, 3 in 2014;
  • Ocean - 11  pedestrian deaths in 2015, 14 in 2014;
  • Passaic - 6 pedestrian deaths in 2015, 5 in 2014;
  • Salem - 2  pedestrian deaths in 2015, 1 in 2014;
  • Somerset - 4 pedestrian deaths in 2015 and 2014;
  • Sussex - 1  pedestrian death in 2015, 2 in 2014;
  • Union - 10  pedestrian deaths in 2015, 13 in 2014; and
  • Warren - 0 pedestrian deaths in 2015 and 2014.

Kevin McArdle has covered the State House for New Jersey 101.5 news since 2002. Contact him at kevin.mcardle@townsquaremedia.com. Follow him on twitter at @kevinmcardle1.

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