⚫ Compared to this time last year, NJ road fatalities are down

⚫ Still, hundreds of people have lost their lives on the road so far this year

⚫ The U.S. has recorded a road-death drop in the first half of 2023

With still more than a month and a half to go in 2023, more than 500 lives have been lost on New Jersey's roads so far this year.

According to the New Jersey State Police, 476 fatal crashes had claimed 503 lives as of Nov. 6.

That's actually quite an improvement compared to the past couple years.

By this date in 2022, a total of 599 lives were lost across 560 fatal crashes.

But advocates and officials know the numbers should be much lower. Every fatality is a life lost too soon — many times, it's the product of someone's bad decision behind the wheel.

Causes of NJ's fatal crashes

"The top issues have been distracted driving, impaired driving, and excessive speed," Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic, told New Jersey 101.5.

In 2021, New Jersey's road fatality count was 697 — the highest number in 13 years. The numbers dipped slightly in 2022, according to preliminary figures from the New Jersey State Police: 692 deaths, across 649 fatal crashes.

Currently, the Garden State is on pace to record a little more than 590 road deaths in 2023.

"It's important to think of those as people, not as numbers," Noble said. "This really needs to resonate with people when they're behind the wheel of a car."

New Jersey officials have not yet released specific data related to fatal crashes in 2022. In 2021, alcohol-related road fatalities increased by 21% compared to the year prior, and "driver inattention" was cited in 194 fatal crashes.

"A lot of people think that they can handle their vehicle at a high rate of speed, that they can multitask when they're behind the wheel," Noble said. "There isn't anyone who is capable of multitasking behind the wheel and being a good driver. They don't go hand in hand."

According to preliminary figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an estimated 19,515 people died in motor vehicle crashes throughout the U.S. during the first half of 2023. That would be down 3.3% from first half of 2022.

"After spiking during the pandemic, traffic deaths are continuing to slowly come down — but we still have a long way to go,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a news release on Sept. 28.

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