Even with fewer cars on the road due to the COVID-19 pandemic, pedestrian deaths in the country rose, and that trend was true in New Jersey, as well. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, there was a 9% increase in pedestrian deaths in New Jersey and a 4.8% increase nationally; New Jersey had 191 pedestrian deaths in 2020.

According to Patch.com, the increase in pedestrian deaths came during a year in which average miles driven dropped 13%. The data were compiled from statistics provided by all fifty states as well as the District of Columbia, and if the preliminary numbers hold up, it would be the worst year for pedestrian deaths since 1989. From 2010-2019, pedestrian deaths increased by 46% according to the research.

"Last year was filled with so much death and loss as COVID swept across the country. As America gets vaccinated and returns to normal, we need to treat pedestrian safety like the public health emergency that it is," Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, said in a news release.

Not surprisingly, the study found that walking after dark was particularly perilous, with three out of four pedestrian fatalities occurring at night. The press release, as reported by Patch.com, quoted Adkins as saying, "We must strengthen our efforts to protect those on foot from traffic violence by implementing equitable and proven countermeasures that protect people walking and address those driving behaviors that pose the greatest risk."

The GHSA report says that the pedestrian fatality rate increase was likely due to speeding, and distracted and drunken driving.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle. Any opinions expressed are Bill Doyle's own.

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