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Is New Jersey a Safe State to Drive In?


Cars are an essential component of the daily life of many people living in the United States. With cities becoming constantly larger and more difficult to navigate on foot or bicycle, people rely on cars to get to work, shop for essentials, and accomplish day-to-day tasks. With an increasing number of drivers on the road every year, even the most cautious motorists run the risk of getting into a traffic collision. In today’s article, we look at New Jersey Department of Transportation statistics on fatal crashes in the state to assess how safe the area is for drivers.

Fatal Crash Statistics by New Jersey County

Throughout 2020, there were 550 accidents resulting in at least one fatality in New Jersey. To better understand where most lethal crashes were concentrated geographically, we created a table tracking the number of fatal crashes, number of victims, and types of victims by county. Of note:

  Crashes Killed Drivers Killed Passengers Killed Pedestrians Killed Cyclists Killed
Atlantic 38 40 26 5 9 0
Bergen 38 43 14 9 20 0
Burlington 40 42 26 4 9 3
Camden 36 38 19 5 13 1
Cape May 8 9 5 0 3 1
Cumberland 22 24 14 5 5 0
Essex 39 45 16 12 14 3
Gloucester 33 35 21 5 7 2
Hudson 24 24 11 1 11 1
Hunterdon 12 12 7 2 3 0
Mercer 20 21 9 5 7 0
Middlesex 61 67 27 12 23 5
Monmouth 33 34 23 2 9 0
Morris 17 17 8 2 6 1
Ocean 30 30 20 5 4 1
Passaic 26 29 17 5 7 0
Salem 11 14 6 5 3 0
Somerset 14 14 7 0 7 0
Sussex 7 7 6 0 1 0
Union 29 30 13 1 16 0
Warren 12 12 9 1 2 0
Totals 550 587 304 86 179 18

Fatal Crash Statistics by Type of Road

Typically, highways and interstate routes see a higher volume of crashes than rural roads. Highways tend to have higher traffic and drivers are allowed to travel at much faster speeds, which increases both the risk and severity of collisions. The chart below breaks down the proportions of fatal crashes in New Jersey by the type of road they occurred on.

Our takeaways:

Fatal Crashes by Type of Road

Which Days of the Week Saw the Most Fatal Crashes?

Typically, the weekends see a higher volume of fatal collisions than weekdays. There are more cars on the road and the risk of encountering an impaired driver increases, particularly during the early morning and late evening. We were able to determine which days of the week had the highest number of fatal collisions from 2016 to 2020 and displayed the data in the chart below. Saturday (450), Sunday (439), and Friday (416) had the most crashes over the five years tracked. Wednesday had the fewest incidents, at 334 over the same five years.

Accidents by Day of the Week

Which Months Saw the Most Fatal Crashes?

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the summer months tend to see the highest rate of car crashes. With school programs on summer break, there are more inexperienced teen drivers on the road and families are prone to taking lengthy road trips. Summer is also a popular time for parties, cookouts, and other celebratory events, which can increase the number of impaired drivers on the road. We broke down New Jersey’s fatal car crashes per month in the chart below.

Of note:

New Jersey Fatal Accidents by Month

Fatal Truck Accident Statistics in New Jersey

Brady, Brady & Reilly LLC notes that tractor-trailer crashes are likely to cause serious or fatal injuries to those involved in the collision. A commercial truck can legally weigh up to 80,000 pounds in the U.S. when fully loaded, and the forces exerted upon a smaller passenger vehicle in a collision are enormous. Even if a crash victim is fortunate enough to survive a collision with a tractor-trailer, severe injuries to the head, neck, spine, and brain are common.

We tracked the number of tractor-trailer lethal crashes and fatalities from 2016 through 2020 in the chart below. Over the first four years, the number of deadly commercial truck crashes increased annually, though fatalities fell slightly from 2018 to 2019. With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, both the number of crashes and lives lost in tractor-trailer accidents dropped, nearly mirroring the recorded figures in 2016.

New Jersey Fatal Truck Crashes

Intoxicated Drivers Involved in Fatal New Jersey Crashes

Driving under the influence substantially increases the risk of a fatal car crash. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, almost 30% of fatal collisions across the U.S. in 2020 involved a drunk driver (blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher). 11,654 victims lost their lives in DUI crashes across the country throughout the year. Looking specifically at crash statistics in New Jersey, we noted that there were 100 intoxicated drivers involved in collisions during 2020. The number of impaired drivers on the road increased in 2020, after remaining steadily at 91 for the previous three years.

Despite the number of drivers on the road decreasing during 2020 with the early onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, traffic fatalities across the country did not drop as steeply as one might expect. Motorists exhibited a higher-than-normal rate of dangerous driving practices, from driving impaired to reckless speeding. While the total number of crashes declined in some states, the severity of collisions generally did not.

Intoxicated Drivers in Fatal Crashes

Steps to Follow After a Crash

We understand that car crashes are traumatizing and scary ordeals. If you do get into a motor vehicle collision, try to stay calm and follow these steps.

  1. Check yourself and your passengers for injuries. Call 911 if anyone is hurt.
  2. Move your vehicle out of traffic (if possible without endangering yourself) and get to safety.
  3. Call the police. They will take an incident report at the scene of the crash.
  4. Exchange contact information with the other driver(s) and witnesses and wait for assistance.
  5. Take down the contact information of any witnesses.
  6. Speak to a car accident attorney to determine whether you have a legal path to compensation.

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