2022 registers the highest number of fatalities in 15 years, as the number of crash-related deaths continues to grow.

Growing Traffic Accident Deaths Urge NJ Authorities to Take Action

2022 marked a 15-year record high for traffic deaths in New Jersey. Fatal traffic accidents totaled 698 before New Year’s Eve, when more fatalities typically occur, one more fatality than the total traffic deaths in 2021. Before 2022, the highest number of deaths occurred in 2007, totaling 724. Of the 698 deaths in 2022, 491 were drivers and passengers, and 190 were pedestrians. And in the first eight days of January, seven traffic fatalities are already on the books, down 12 from last year at the same time. The seven include four drivers, ages 17 to 79, two pedestrians, one adult, one minor, and one adult cyclist. These steady increases over the last 15 years occurred despite the pandemic when fewer people were on the roads.

Car Accident Statistics Post-Pandemic in New Jersey

In fact, the number of traffic deaths has risen since the pandemic. While street and highway traffic was lighter during the pandemic, drivers felt freer to violate traffic laws, like speeding. But since normal traffic levels returned to the roadways, pandemic unsafe habits continue. And along with speeding, driving without seatbelts, distracted driving, and driving impaired by alcohol or drugs raised the fatality statistics after the pandemic, according to the New Jersey Division of Highway Safety. 

Safety Plan Main Objectives and Budget

The State Division of Highway Traffic Safety plans to address the increasing problem with a safety plan, using federal safety program funding and directives. The plan’s mission is to reduce alcohol and drug-impaired driving, increase pedestrian and bicycle safety, improve traffic policing and safety programs, and public information and media campaigns to get the safety message and resources distributed. The Division will disburse $30 million to help municipalities educate and inform residents about the penalties for impaired and distracted driving and speeding while promoting seatbelt use and pedestrian and cycling safety. These funds are in addition to existing grants totaling 2.5 million that support policing efforts to curb DUI’s and other motor vehicle violations at the local and county level. 

Safe Systems Approach to Tackle NJ Traffic Casualties

Another traffic safety campaign to complement the New Jersey Highway Safety Division plan is the U.S. Department of Transportations’ Safe Systems Approach, rolled out last year. The program focuses on a comprehensive accident prevention and injury reduction scheme, calling on personal driver responsibility and improving roadway system oversight and emergency response infrastructure. The federal approach reinforces safety through improved road safety, whether that is through safer vehicles, speeds, driving, or post-accident treatment. However, Hoboken, New York City, and Jersey City adhered to the Vision Zero Safety plan last year, which aims to reduce traffic deaths to zero by a specific date. 

Zero Safety Program Implementation in NJ as Alternative in the Short Term

City officials report significant decreases in vehicular, pedestrian and bicycle accident victims. Currently, New Jersey’s safety program is not as rigorous as the Zero Safety program, and road safety advocates and legislators are calling for a switch to the latter. New Jersey’s current plan, the Toward Zero Deaths program, patterned after the federal highway safety strategy, is a research-based approach to providing resources, including steps to reduce traffic injuries and deaths to zero goal, but without a specific target. Toward the end of reaching zero traffic injuries and deaths, New Jersey legislators introduced bills (one being S-2885) to create a task force to study Vision Zero tactics and results in reducing tragic traffic accidents to meet a 2035 zero fatality and injury goal. A commission to investigate short and long-term steps to reaching such a goal may be in order also. 

Victims’ Families Have Rights in New Jersey

With the help of our personal injury and wrongful death attorneys, injured accident victims and their families may ensure that they have all the necessary means to receive total compensation for their damages in Trenton, Hamilton, West Windsor, West Windsor, Mount Laurel, Pennington, or elsewhere in Mercer County, Middlesex County, Burlington County, and throughout New Jersey. If your loved on has been killed by the negligence of another driver and their death resulted from a vehicle accident, contact Cohen & Riechelson to talk to a wrongful death and personal injury lawyer who can explain to you the process of filing a claim and taking your lawsuit to trial if the settlement amount with the responsible party’s insurer or your insurance does not suffice. 

Gathering evidence to settle or litigate an accident claim in civil court is often lengthy in New Jersey, as medical documents and billing statements, property damage estimates, wage loss proof, treatment costs, funeral expenses, and other items are proof of damages that an insurance adjustor or jury must examine to award damages. Talk to an experienced lawyer to get the best guidance on exercising your rights to compensation from a negligent driver who caused a fatal crash. You can reach us online or by contacting our NJ offices at 609-528-2596 to request a free discussion and review of your potential claim.