The holidays mean more highway traffic and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated that this past Memorial Day, July 4th, and now Thanksgiving will see record number increases in highway traffic across the country.

The hassle of flying with increased costs for checked bags, the increased number of flight cancellations and delayed flights have turned many fliers into drivers.

Personal injury attorney Scott Vicknair looked at government data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from 2017 to 2021 to determine what state had the most highway fatalities. The data was collected pre and post COVID-19.

Nationally, 16.04% of all fatal accidents happen on highways.

To be honest, I thought that number would be higher since there are so many highways throughout all the states but thinking about it, drunk driving, speeding, and other factors on our local and state roads account for most fatalities.

Here in New Jersey, as the most densely populated state, and with many of us traveling the Garden State Parkway and the Turnpike every day, we have the distinction of being the 8th spot on the list with 21.14% of all fatalities happening on our highways.

That number seems to be in check with other states and taking into consideration there have been strides in making travel easier on the Parkway and Turnpike by creating more of a thoroughfare with the implementation of E-ZPass Express Lanes. Most toll booths are now unmanned, and accidents are down in these toll-taking areas.

Current stats for New Jersey highways

The good news, however, is that roadway fatalities are on the decline in New Jersey.

Between last year and this year — dates not included in the study above — fatalities are down by more than 15%, according to the State Police.

Driving deaths in other states

The most freeway fatalities by percentage happen in Alaska with over 30% of fatalities happening on their highways. That number makes sense since most of their infrastructure is all highway, and the weather of course could also be attributed to the large number of freeway fatalities.

Those traveling Maine highways are least likely to get in a highway fatality with 4% of fatalities occurring on Maine highways.

I love to drive and there is some comfort to me when I travel down the highway with my music blaring and the sun shining in on my moon roof. I carefully watch my speed and know that when I start to get tired there are plenty of places to pull over safely.

Without sounding like a public service announcement, be careful when you hit the highway this holiday season. Pay attention to your surroundings and the road but most importantly enjoy the ride and get to where you’re going safely.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was updated to include the most recent data for New Jersey highway fatalities.

LOOK: Most dangerous states to drive in

Stacker used the Federal Highway Administration's 2020 Highway Statistics report to rank states by the fatalities per billion miles traveled. 

Gallery Credit: Katherine Gallagher

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Big Joe Henry. Any opinions expressed are Big Joe’s own.

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