A new National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report has some disturbing news for New Jersey drivers: traffic fatalities in New Jersey are at an all-time high. While the rest of the country experienced a 7 percent gain in traffic fatalities between January and April of this year, New Jersey fatalities increased by over 13 percent.
Worse yet, New Jersey State Police have confirmed that the pace has continued, with 504 fatalities recorded as of September 18. For context, as of September 2021, there had been 462 fatalities and in 2020, 394. Clearly, this data demonstrates a disturbing trend.
In this month’s blog, I will outline the top causes of New Jersey traffic accidents so drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists can use this information to protect themselves. I’ll also discuss when you should consider working with a New Jersey or New York traffic accident attorney after an accident.
New Jersey State Police: Top Car Accident Causes
The most recent specific statistics we have on the top causes of traffic accidents in New Jersey are from 2020’s New Jersey State Police Fatal Crash Report. The top causes of fatal car crashes are below.
Distracted Driving and Impaired Driving
Distracted driving was the top cause of fatal crashes, resulting in fatal 163 crashes. It was followed closely by impaired driving involving alcohol and/or drug use, which resulted in 162 fatal crashes.
When these types of cases go to court, there is often a wealth of evidence available to prove the case, from crash reports to blood alcohol tests and cell phone records.
It may come as a surprise that pedestrian violations were the cause of 135 fatal accidents in 2020–and this number has only increased since then. Crossing while a traffic signal is red, not yielding the right of way when crossing the street without a crosswalk, and stepping into traffic when it is too late for a driver to stop were several issues that caused fatal accidents.
While it may sound like pedestrians should be held fully accountable for these accidents, advocates for pedestrians point out that there are several other factors at play. At some traffic signals, there isn’t sufficient time to cross before the light turns to green.
In rural areas, there are large distances between traffic signals, sometimes up to a mile, which means vehicles are often traveling at very high speeds. In these cases, it may not be possible for a driver to stop in time to avoid a collision. In other words, if you take this type of case to court, depending on the circumstances, you could be held somewhat responsible as the pedestrian. But it is likely that the driver will share some responsibility.
Speeding and Non-Use of Seatbelts
Another surprise is that in 2020, speeding came in as the fourth highest cause of crashes in New Jersey, causing 62 fatal crashes. We usually think of speeding as the top cause of deadly accidents, but that isn’t always the case. Speeding was followed closely by not wearing a seatbelt, which resulted in 61 fatalities.
The Division of Highway Traffic Safety has recommended obvious fixes to these issues, reminding drivers to travel at reasonable speeds, avoid driving if they have used drugs or alcohol, and wearing a seatbelt. After a high-speed crash, injuries are often very serious, so don’t hesitate to contact a Northern New Jersey car accident attorney.
Younger drivers tend to get in more crashes than older drivers, so encouraging the young people in your home to practice driving skills is crucial. Several safety groups have advocated recently for increasing mandatory practice time for new drivers.
The argument is that if people learn to drive well when they are young, they will continue to be good drivers as adults. Other novel suggestions include continuing to invest in technologies that allow cars to brake on their own in emergency situations and detect blind spots.
What to Do if you are Injured in a Motor Vehicle Crash
If you are involved in a collision involving any of the factors above and suffer a serious injury, there are several things you should do. First, pull your vehicle to the side of the road, especially if you are on the interstate. Next, call the New Jersey State Police: this is required by law for all car accidents.
If you are well enough to do so, get the contact and insurance information from the other driver. You should also seek medical help as soon as possible for you and your passengers. Make sure to hang on to all of your medical bills and other records, as you will need these details from the accident scene later.
You should also get in touch with your auto insurance company as soon as possible. When you speak with them, do not offer any details beyond exactly what they ask for, as they can use this information to reduce your settlement.
When a Lawyer Can Help After a New Jersey Car Accident
Whether a loved one has suffered a wrongful death due to another driver’s negligence or you are seriously injured after a car accident and are struggling to be reimbursed by your insurer, a New Jersey or New York attorney can help you understand your rights. They can also take the lead if you have a case. In many cases, it can be incredibly difficult to get fair compensation without a lawyer on your side.
From gathering evidence and expert witnesses to support your case to negotiating with insurance companies, regardless of the severity of your accident a Northern New Jersey or New York car accident attorney can help.
At Buttafuoco & Associates, we are committed to helping the little guy against large insurance companies, and may be able to assist your case.
Get in touch for a free consultation at 1-800-NOW-HURT.