NJ sees steady decrease in motor vehicle fatalities
After years of decline and a historic low in 2014, figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show road deaths increased by 9 percent last year nationally, but not in New Jersey.
In 2015, the Garden State had 553 fatalities, compared to 556 in 2014, according to Gary Poedubicky, acting director of the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety.
"We've kind of bucked the trend so far and we're really happy to see the decrease in the traffic fatalities, but with that said, we still have a lot of work to do," Poedubicky said.
Traffic fatalities tend to fluctuate from year to year, but Poedubicky said that in New Jersey over the past 10 years, there has been a decrease of about 22 percent.
"I have to give credit to our stricter enforcement of our driving laws in this state and drivers themselves taking responsibility for their safety. If we're going to keep the numbers down, motorists have to continue to practice safe driving, obey the speed limits, and wear their seat belts. There's also very strong presence from our law enforcement community who participate in our various mobilizations with the drinking and driving and seat belt programs, so those reasons have allowed us to see our numbers continually head in a downward direction," Poedubicky said.
Technology in vehicles is also credited with helping decrease highway fatalities over the years. Drivers are safer and injuries are less severe than in previous years due to things like air bags, according to Poedubicky.
So far for 2016, the number of road deaths in New Jersey is about the same, according to Poedubicky, but he cautioned there's usually a spike during the warmer months.
"Typically it's those months from May through August where we'll see more fatalities occur on our roadways. It's during those 101 days of summer when motorists are out on the road more, we have more vacationers in our state at that time, and we'll see a little bit of an increase in fatalities," Poedubicky said. "That's the time of year when, drivers in general, have to pay particular attention to the rules of the road."
The spike in national road deaths in 2015 is attributed to several factors, according to a report by nbcnews.com. Vehicle defects, human error--including distracted driving and texting while driving, and people driving more miles which puts them at greater risk, are some of the reasons cited.