A news article posted on nj.com reports that drunk and drugged drivers are now the leading cause of deadly motor vehicle accidents in New Jersey. The recently released New Jersey State Police accident report analyzed fatal traffic accidents in 2021. According to the State Police crash report, distracted driving was no longer the top cause of deadly car accidents in the state of New Jersey. For the past ten years, distracted driving has been the leading cause of fatal crashes in New Jersey. This data is crucial for government agencies to respond and create regulations and safety plans for the future.
New Jersey’s 2023 State Safety Plan contains several strategies and safety programs to reduce accidents. However, safety and driver advocates are in disagreement about the best strategies to make roadways in New Jersey safer.
According to the New Jersey State Police crash data, there were nearly 700 traffic fatalities in 2021. That was the highest number of traffic accident deaths since 2007, and this is the third year in a row with an increase in fatal accidents. New Jersey also suffered more than 200 fatal pedestrian collisions in 2021, which was the highest number of pedestrian deaths in New Jersey since 1989.
Driving while intoxicated on alcohol or drugs has become the top “contributing factor” of fatal accidents in New Jersey. The crash data also revealed that 91 drivers, 13 passengers, 23 pedestrians and two cyclists killed in traffic accidents tested positive for cannabis.
According to Pam Fischer, the Governor’s Highway Safety Association Director of External Engagement and former Division of Highway Safety Executive Director stated that impaired driving is now more common that distracted driving, and the problem is occurring in many other states. She stated that consuming marijuana and then driving is dangerous.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration trauma center research suggests that impaired driving is increasing, and multiple intoxicating substances are becoming more common. Marijuana is usually one of those intoxicating substances connected to fatal accidents. New Jersey decriminalized the recreational use of marijuana back in 2021. So far, the effect of legalization on crashes has not been determined. Alcohol has an intoxication standard based on Blood Alcohol Content (BAC), but determining marijuana intoxication can only be determined by trained Drug Recognition Expert evaluation.
One AAA survey concerning New Jersey drivers revealed a significant disparity in the population’s perception of drugged driving. The study states that many people in New Jersey believe that driving under the influence of drugs is not as dangerous as drunk driving. To better educate the public about the dangers of driving while high, the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety, AAA, and the New Jersey Cannabis Trade Association are handing out impaired driving information to marijuana consumers at all dispensaries throughout the state of New Jersey.
Safety advocates hope the $1 trillion dollars in federal funds from the Federal Infrastructure Act will be a “historic opportunity” to redesign dangerous streets and create safer roads for drivers and pedestrians. However, some safety advocates are quick to point out that pedestrian deaths do not usually occur at intersections. Safety advocates worry that the money will be spent on projects that do not actually save lives.
<p “>New Jersey’s Division of Highway Traffic Safety 2023 safety plan outlines grants and safety programs that should address priority issues. The safety plan recognizes that previous distracted driving awareness campaigns accounted for a 33% reduction in distracted driving accidents in 2020. New Jersey did succeed in reducing fatal distracted driving accidents in 2020. Fortunately, federal funding for distracted driving education and awareness campaigns will continue through 2023. New Jersey intends to reduce deaths by 3% yearly from 2020 to 2025.
New Jersey is also trying to meet its goals of reducing drunk driving accident deaths and fatalities caused by drivers and passengers not wearing seat belts. Mothers Against Drunk Driving of Michigan, are pushing for national legislation requiring ignition interlocking devices in newly manufactured motor vehicles. New Jersey’s campaigns center around high-visibility law enforcement campaigns in targeted areas and education.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Roadway Safety Strategy combines the Toward Zero Deaths and the Safe Systems Approach of Vision Zero while handling the issues of racial inequity. Aspects of those strategies are part of New Jersey’s 2023 Highway Safety Plan.
If you or a loved one have been harmed, or if a loved one passed away due to an accident caused by a negligent driver, you or your loved one may be able to receive monetary compensation for your losses. The time is limited to file your injury or wrongful death claim. So, do not delay and contact Parker Waichman LLP to receive a free consultation.
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