Officials say that 2011 proved to be a deadly in terms of car accidents in New Jersey. The number of fatalities from motor vehicle accidents in the Garden State hit a four year high last year. In all, 594 fatal car accidents were tallied. New Jersey State Police say that 635 people were killed in those accidents on New Jerseys roads in 2011.
While drivers comprised the highest number of overall fatalities, numbering 371, pedestrians were killed at a higher rate than were passengers in motor vehicles. State police say 144 people were killed in pedestrian accidents and 103 passengers died in motor vehicle accidents last year. Seventeen people were the victim of fatal bicycle accidents in New Jersey last year.
State Police say seat belt use has grown tremendously among drivers and front seat passengers in motor vehicles. But officials also say that seat belt use could be higher, especially for passengers in the back seat of cars on New Jersey’s roads. The state Division of Highway Traffic Safety said in a survey released last August that seat belt use among drivers and front seat passengers in New Jersey grew to 94.51 percent last year from 93.73 percent two years ago. Only 61 percent of back seat passengers used a seat belt last year, according to the survey.
Not surprisingly, state police remain concerned over the dangers presented by such issues as drunk driving and distracted driving. A spokesman for the New Jersey State Police says distracted driving caused by electronic devices continue to cause New Jersey drivers to take their eyes off the road, so now not even DUI can be the reason for accidents.
The state police say drivers who take their eyes off the road to glance at their cellphones often can be involved in car accidents. The quick glance toward the electronic device can make the split-second difference between a car accident and a close call on the road, according to the state police. The law enforcement agency spokesman says “Driving while operating a mobile device is just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated.”