Highways across the United States have become more lethal during the Coronavirus pandemic despite there being record-low traffic levels. With dozens of states issuing stay-at-home orders, traffic volume has decreased significantly since the middle of March. However, there has been an uptick in the number of fatal crashes because of excessive speeds on open roads. Despite the increase in fatalities nationwide, New Jersey has surprisingly seen a decrease.
The National Safety Council (NSC) released data that show a 14-percent increase in the fatality rate per mile driven in March 2020 when compared to March 2019. The data is collected from all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia. It shows that excessive speeding, distracted driving, and reckless driving have become a serious problem since the start of the pandemic.
Ken Kolosh, NSC manager of statistics, explained “The risk on our roads has actually increased. Although an 8 percent decrease in deaths from one March to the next March is great news, that decrease should have been even greater if the risk on our roads had stayed the same. We should have seen closer to an 18 percent decrease in deaths.”
Overall, the number of traffic fatalities declined by eight percent, which the NSC attributes to the stay-at-home orders across the country.
New Jersey traffic deaths have declined during the pandemic
New Jersey is one of the few states that has seen the number of traffic deaths drop during the pandemic. Stay-at-home orders were issued in the middle of March and since then April saw its lowest traffic death total in more than 50 years (1968).
According to the New Jersey State Police, there were 26 traffic-related deaths in April 2020 compared to an average of 40 deaths every April from 2015 to 2019. It accounts for a decrease of 35 percent. Fatal motor vehicle crashes as of April 2020 compared to April 2019 also dropped by 12 percent.
The New Jersey Department of Transportation does not track traffic volume; however, the state’s toll roads have offered some insight on the reduction in volume. New Jersey Turnpike Authority spokesperson Tom Feeney relayed the following statistics for the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway:
- In April, traffic dropped by 63 percent on the New Jersey Turnpike
- The Garden State Parkway saw a 61-percent drop in traffic volume for April
Feeney said that during that time there was one fatal accident on each highway and those accidents led to three total fatalities. Feeney described the decline in traffic volume as “dramatic and very significant.”
Even with the stay-at-home orders issued by Governor Phil Murphy, people are still on the roads either for essential reasons or non-essential reasons. Even though traffic deaths dropped in April there were still 26 people who lost their lives on the roads of New Jersey. If you have lost a loved one due to a traffic accident in NJ, call the office of Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow, LLP at 732-777-0100, or complete a contact form today. We have offices in Edison, Toms River and Red Bank.