Distracted driving crashes result in an estimated nine deaths and 100 injuries every day in New Jersey and across the U.S. Some of the contributing factors in this trend are obvious, such as the increased use of dashboard touchscreens and other in-car technology, calling and texting behind the wheel, and rubbernecking at incidents outside the vehicle. Even simple actions like changing the radio channel or talking with passengers in the car can be distracting.
Distracted driving and personal injury accidents seem to go hand in hand in New Jersey and across the U.S. When this behavior is combined with the inexperience of teen drivers, crashes with injuries and fatalities are common. Researchers seek to analyze the problem to devise strategies to reduce the frequency and make the roads safer for everyone.
Based on data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatality Analysis Reporting System, there are more DUI fatalities on the Fourth of July than on any other major U.S. holiday. New Jersey residents should know that drunk driving, besides being the cause of many accidents, can land first-time offenders in jail for up to one year in addition to leaving them with fines and higher insurance rates.
A worrying number of drivers in New Jersey and around the country admit to regularly getting behind the wheel despite being dangerously fatigued even though they know that behaving in this way can be extremely dangerous. After analyzing video footage of drivers filmed just before they were involved in serious accidents, the American Automobile Association determined that almost 10% of them crashed because they were drowsy. Another study from the National Sleep Foundation concluded that 24 hours without sleep impairs motorists as much as having a blood alcohol concentration of .10%. That would be enough to result in a drunk driving charge in every state.
The National Safety Council has designated every April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and the reason is clear. According to the NSC, distracted driving crashes kill around nine people and injure 100 more every day. The proliferation of smartphones and in-vehicle technology, such as dashboard touchscreens and voice command features, is making many drivers in New Jersey and across the U.S. more distracted behind the wheel.
Large-truck crash fatalities have reached their highest number in 29 years with 4,761 people (including about 1,300 truckers) killed in 2017. Many truckers and truck fleet owners in New Jersey and across the U.S. have formed their ideas about what has caused the rise, and these are summarized below.
New Jersey residents who get less than seven hours of sleep, as well as those who work night shifts or who take certain medications, are at a high risk for drowsy driving. Drowsiness affects about half of all adult drivers in the U.S. according to the American Sleep Foundation, and 20 percent even admit to falling asleep behind the wheel. These figures should be alarming because fatigue triples one's chances of getting in a car crash.
New Jersey drivers could be at risk of an accident involving a large truck with faulty brakes. According to the U.S Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there is a link between brake violations and crashes. A study found that trucks involved in a motor vehicle accident in which the truck's ability to brake was a cause had a 50 percent higher likelihood of a brake violation than trucks in crashes where braking was not a critical factor. Furthermore, almost 46 percent of trucks in accidents where braking was a factor had brake violations versus around 30 percent of trucks in accidents in which the brakes were not a factor.
The thought of getting into a crash with a commercial truck terrifies most New Jersey drivers. Compared to a passenger vehicle, tractor-trailers are enormous. As a result, they can do significant damage. Studies have shown that up to 97 percent of victims killed in collisions between trucks and passenger vehicles were occupants of the passenger vehicle. The victims who do survive such crashes often suffer serious injuries.