Car accident deaths in New Jersey are down by 6% for the first 10 months of 2012, which compares very favorably with a nationwide increase in car crash fatalities of 9% for the first half of 2012.
A report issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that 16,920 people died in the USA during the first six months of 2012, compared with 14,950 who died during the first six months of 2011. The report estimates a 1.1% increase in miles driven, which means increased driving does NOT explain the additional deaths – the rate of fatal accidents per mile driven has also gone up.
By contrast, according to the New Jersey State Police there have been 475 fatalities on New Jersey roads and highways during the first ten months of 2012, a 6% reduction from 2011’s 507 fatalities at this time. Does this mean that New Jersey is doing something right?
It would be premature to jump to that conclusion. On both the national and state levels there is significant variation in fatality statistics from year to year. 2011 was an unusually safe year on the nation’s roads, with fatalities at a 60-year low. Coming from such a low base, it’s not surprising that this year is higher. In New Jersey, on the other hand, 2011 was not a particularly safe year: fatalities were substantially higher than in 2010. The 2012 figures are still above the 2010 figures for New Jersey.
There are many things that can contribute to variation in fatal crash statistics that have little to do with government efforts to create safer roads. A few examples include:
- Weather. An unusually harsh winter or other inclement weather conditions can cause a spike in fatalities.
- Daylight Savings Time. Longer periods of daylight savings time reduce fatal accidents.
- The price of gasoline. Higher gas prices are correlated with lower fatality rates
There are other things as well that could be have contributed to the improvement in New Jersey’s traffic fatality rate. New Jersey police have been more aggressively enforcing laws against texting or talking on handheld cellphones while driving.
Additionally, it’s possible that there have been as many crashes, but more people are surviving them because of better emergency medical care.
Whatever the reason, it’s welcome news that fatal traffic accidents in New Jersey are down this year.
If you or a family member has been injured in a traffic accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney at the law offices of James C. DeZao, P.A.