242 people have already died on NJ roads so far in 2016
New Jersey's roads are deadlier this year compared to last, and law enforcement officials aren't exactly sure why.
The latest fatal crash statistics from the State Police, updated the morning of June 14, show 231 fatal crashes on the state's roadways so far this year — an 11 percent jump from the 207 deadly crashes reported in mid-June 2015.
"We hate to see a jump in the numbers, especially when we're at that kind of halfway point of the year," said Capt. Stephen Jones of the State Police. "That's enough to warrant some concern."
There were 522 fatal crashes and and 562 fatalities on New Jersey's roads all of last year. The numbers have improved dramatically over the past decade. In 2007, more than 720 people lost their lives on Garden State roads.
According to Jones, there's no exact cause for this year's spike "at this stage of the game."
"That type of analysis is going to have to wait until a little bit later, but for now we'd like to encourage people to make some better driving decisions," he said, noting distracted driving has been a major problem.
"People are driving along at highway speeds, but they're not paying full attention to the roadway," he said. "That small distraction sometimes unfortunately can demand a life in payment."
And the numbers show drivers are not only gambling with their own lives. About 43 percent of the victims so far this year were passengers, pedestrians and bicyclists.
Thirteen of this year's victims were under the age of 17, according to the data. Another 24 were at least 80 years old.
Road fatality count by county (as of June 13):
- Atlantic - 12
- Bergen - 11
- Burlington - 10
- Camden - 15
- Cape May - 5
- Cumberland - 14
- Essex - 20
- Gloucester - 16
- Hudson - 9
- Hunterdon - 6
- Mercer - 8
- Middlesex - 21
- Monmouth - 19
- Morris - 8
- Ocean - 15
- Passaic - 14
- Salem - 9
- Somerset - 6
- Sussex - 5
- Union - 10
- Warren - 9
Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org