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Traffic Fatalities Down Nationwide, Up in New Jersey [AUDIO]

Traffic deaths nationwide are on a downward trend, hitting the lowest level in six decades. But, in New Jersey, there was a 13 percent increase.

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That’s according to 2011 numbers. “”Tragically, in 2011, there were 627 deaths on New Jersey’s roadways,” said Tracy Noble, AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesperson. “The number of deaths attributed to distractions and inattention while behind the wheel stood out the most. The other factor was excessive speed.”

“It is an epidemic that we are seeing on our roadways. People are taking their eyes off the road to text, to read email and to do any number of things when their attention needs to be solely focused on driving,” said Noble. “These numbers speak volumes when we had a year over year increase of 71 fatalities. Luckily, so far in 2012, we’re seeing those numbers decline a little bit, but the year is not over yet and we are dealing with preliminary data. Right now, we’re down year to date 61 fatalities, which is great news. But, we still have a long way to go because those numbers are way too high.”

“We need to see a culture change. Unfortunately, driver education is taught in high school,” said Noble. “What people don’t realize is that when that child is still in a car seat, parents are setting an example. When children see their parents on cell phones or texting behind the wheel, that’s the culture they’re growing up with. So, we need to show our children that it is only ok to drive undistracted and deal with the task at hand. That needs to start earlier in school, it needs to be reinforced at home and we need everybody to drill this message home.”

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