Just behind heart disease, cancer, and stroke, unintentional injury – which includes vehicle crashes – is a leading cause of death in New Jersey. While the number of vehicle accidents is down from decades ago, even one preventable death is one too many.
Here are some of the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents in New Jersey and how you can stay safe on the road and help prevent more ccrashes.
In 2016, there were a total of 256,482 vehicle accidents in New Jersey. That’s about 700 per day. Thankfully, that number has been decreasing.
Though the total number of accidents has been on a downward trend since 2001, a recent spike since 2012 has some analysts looking at cell phone use as a reason why drivers aren’t as alert as they were last decade.
Death and injury also fluctuate, but are primarily down (78,000 injuries and 670 deaths in 2001 compared to 59,000 and 570 in 2016).
Cell phone use has continually been pointed at as a major reason for traffic accidents. With the introduction of the modern smartphone in 2007, a new era of easy and addicting mobile communication and entertainment has been a great leap in technology, but seemingly difficult to ignore while driving.
In 2004, New Jersey introduced a law that prohibits cell phone use while driving. This includes phone calls, texting, emailing, and the use of the internet and phone apps.
Though this law has likely kept cell phones out of the hands of some drivers, accidents from cell phone use have been increasing since police officers began accurately recording the use as a cause in 2006.
A more typical cause of accidents in New Jersey is weather. Virtually any type of weather can cause difficulty while driving, including:
- Snow and sleet
- Ice-covered pavement
- Dense fog
- Bright sunshine
In addition to obstructing drivers, changes in weather can cause wildlife to behave irregularly. Deer, rodents, and birds may not see roads or oncoming traffic as well as in normal weather conditions.
Even 120 years after the first drunk driving arrest, driving while under the influence continues to be a problem. In New Jersey, having 0.08 percent of alcohol in your blood can land you a drunk driving charge.
In some cases, if you cannot safely be behind the wheel of a car, you can be charged even if your alcohol levels are below 0.08. Narcotics and hallucinogens are also included in intoxication charges.
The popularity of rideshare services has likely been a big attribution to the decrease in intoxicated drivers on the road. Companies like Uber and Lyft, who have been operating in New Jersey as early as 2013, offer taxi-like transportation from independent, authorized drivers.
The ease of their mobile apps and payments makes rideshare services an appealing alternative to drinking and driving.
Staying Safe on the Roads
Most drivers want to keep themselves, their passengers, and other drivers safe while on the road. Here are a few things you can do to be a safer driver:
- Use Bluetooth, speakerphone, or a headset when using a cell phone
- Avoid distractions like eating, grooming, reading, or adjusting music
- Don’t drive in unfavorable weather if you can’t control your vehicle
- Use your seatbelt
- Don’t drink and drive