Traffic Fatalities at 20-year Low
West Trenton, N.J. – Preliminary year-end statistics show traffic fatalities are at a 20-year low.
The 2007 statewide total of 718 is 56 less than 2006, which equates to a seven-percent decrease. On roadways with State Police coverage, the decrease was more dramatic at 19%, or 48 less than the 249 total from 2006.
“At 718 deaths, the tally is still far too high, but at least the numbers are moving in the right direction,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes. “The bottom line is that although accidents will never be eliminated, good driving choices will have a positive impact on the number of crashes resulting in fatalities. The significant reduction we experienced in 2007 could evaporate this year if motorists do not make good choices on a daily basis.”
“Eighty-five percent of all crashes are due to driver behavior,” said Pam Fischer, Director of the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety. “Motorists must take personal responsibility for their actions behind-the-wheel, to ensure their own safety and the safety of others on the road.”
Lt. Colonel Juan Mattos, Deputy Superintendent of Operations continues to chair a Safe Passage Task Force that joins municipal, county and state law enforcement with prosecutors, private sector groups and other agencies to coordinate traffic safety initiatives in New Jersey. The group has been creating improvements in laws, enforcement, prosecution and education to affect the overall safety of motorists in the state.
The task force has also improved the partnership between police, the Department of Transportation, the Division of Highway Traffic Safety, and toll road authorities to reinforce the police presence with variable message signs over all major highways. These electronic signboards are programmed to show safety and enforcement messages that are coordinated with police initiatives.
Initiatives include education and enforcement aimed at teenagers in high schools, a group at higher risk than the majority of the driving public. Troopers hope that the messages coming from many different sources will create a permanent change in driving behaviors.
“The best thing troopers and police officers can do is provide disincentives for poor driving behaviors and create a presence on the roadways, especially in areas prone to frequent violations that lead to crashes,’’ Colonel Fuentes said.
Fuentes said that some of the key safety factors include:
- Seatbelt usage
- Obeying the speed limits
- Driving sober and without distractions
- Not following too closely
- Being courteous
- Driving a safe vehicle and checking your tires, lights and wipers regularly
# # #