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NJ Car Accident Deaths Rate Down in 2012, Distractions Still a Concern

Manfred Ricciardelli
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Posted on Feb 13, 2013

Although there were fewer fatal car accidents in New Jersey in 2012 than the previous year, authorities are still worried about the number of fatalities caused by distracted driving.

Traffic fatalities were down 5 percent from 2011, resulting in 32 fewer lives lost as a result of car accidents statewide. According to state police reports, the most hazardous municipality was Vineland, and the most dangerous road within it was State Route 47, hosting six fatalities across Vineland and Millville. Last year, Gloucester County had 23 traffic deaths, Cumberland had 19, and Salem had nine.

July remains the deadliest month for car accident deaths in the three counties. The summer month saw 12 fatalities, four of which were killed over the weekend of July 7-8 alone.

Lt. Stephen Jones of the state police said that while preventing impaired driving remains a priority, law enforcement officers are increasingly worried about the dangers of distracted driving—particularly texting behind the wheel.

“Texting has the edge on talking on the phone, because it take your eyes off the road,” Jones said. “The more electronics there are, the tendency will be to continue that trend.”

Teresa Thomas, program manager for the Vineland-based South Jersey Traffic Safety Alliance, agreed that distracted driving is a pressing issue, but said the problem goes way beyond cell phone use.

“It could be eating, changing a CD ... or even shaving,” Thomas said. “You wouldn’t believe what some people do.”

Jones said that reaching drivers at an early age makes a huge difference in stopping distracted driving accidents before they occur. Jones cited the increase in the number of pedestrian fatalities, an increase of 20 deaths statewide, as a particular focus area for new drivers.

“We run educational programs for young drivers,” he said. “That’s when they’re developing their habits, so it’s important to reach them then.”

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