Rate of Fatal New Jersey Crashes Rises for First Time in Five Years

New Jersey law enforcement officials find themselves baffled by the rise in fatal car accidents for 2011. The rate had either decreased or remained steady since 2006, so the spike in fatalities was unexpected. For the first time in five years, fatal injuries have risen year-to-year; in 2010, there were 551 fatal automobile accidents on New Jersey roadways compared with 638 in 2011.

Why Such A Dramatic Increase?

Law enforcement agencies, legislators, experts in the insurance industry and the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) have all speculated about the sudden rise in fatal car accidents, but no hard and fast correlation has been drawn between any of their theories and the jump in deaths. Some possible causes are:

  • More alcohol-related collisions
  • Drivers distracted by the presence of electronic devices like cellphones, PDAs, GPS units and laptops (particularly those who are texting, emailing or reading GPS directions while behind the wheel)
  • Higher than ever before numbers of aggressive/reckless drivers (those who speed, change lanes without signaling, tailgate and/or ignore red lights and stop signs)
  • "Old school" distractions like eating, drinking, conversation, in-car music and grooming

The New Jersey Gasoline, C-Store and Automotive Association has proffered a different explanation, though: the elimination of New Jersey's regulations requiring annual vehicle inspections. It reasons that those inspections were an integral part of keeping unsafe vehicles off the roadways, catching problems with vehicle brakes and tires before they could cause accidents. A mechanical issue, particularly when combined with an aggressive or distracted driver, is a recipe for disaster.

No matter what the ultimate cause of the increase in fatal crashes, the fact remains that more people than ever before are dying on New Jersey roadways. If you have been injured — or you have lost a loved one — in a New Jersey car accident, speak with a skilled personal injury attorney in your area to learn more about your legal rights and options.