NJ wants you to stay alive during the ‘101 days of summer’
ASBURY PARK — Vehicle accidents, especially fatal ones, shouldn't be automatic when volume spikes on New Jersey's roads.
But year after year, between Memorial Day Weekend and Labor Day, the roadway death toll jumps significantly in the Garden State.
New Jersey is looking to change that trend, and on Tuesday announced the launch of the 101 Days of Summer campaign, which aims to increase motorist safety through education about the top dangers, and increased enforcement.
In 2017, 137 motor vehicle occupants, 48 pedestrians and five bicyclists lost their lives over the 101-day stretch, state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said outside the Asbury Park Convention Center.
"That's more than a third of the total deaths that year on our highways," Grewal said.
Between 2014 and 2018, there were a total of 891 fatal crashes statewide during the 101 days. Data show alcohol-related and young driver-related crashes increase during the summer months as well.
"Although New Jersey's highways remain some of the safest in the nation, every injury and every loss of life is one too many," said Eric Heitmann, director of the Division of Highway Traffic Safety.
In addition to regular and supplemental patrols, Heitmann said, police officers over the next three months will conduct sobriety checkpoints, deploy drunk-driver mobile patrols and participate in the Click It or Ticket national seatbelt enforcement campaign.
Officials at the event highlighted the growing prevalence of distracted driving, boosted by drivers' dependence on their smartphones.
A two-second glance at a phone while traveling 50 m.p.h. translates to 146 feet traveled without eyes on the road.
Law enforcement, meanwhile, is urging drivers to obey the state's Move Over law, which requires that drivers shift lanes, when possible, for law enforcement vehicles, tow trucks and highway maintenance vehicles.
"Failure to comply with New Jersey's law not only places police and first responders in danger, but it can be costly for motorists with fines up to $500," said Lt. Col. Jeff Motley, deputy superintendent of operations for the State Police.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.