WEST TRENTON – New Jersey State Police statistics show that 230 people have died in traffic-related accidents so far this year (Jan. 1 through May 25), which is up almost 18-percent from the 195 crash fatalities this time last year.
There is no clear reason for the spike, officials said. Since many accidents are single vehicle crashes, distracted driving is suspected in early analysis. Texting and web-surfing mobile devices are an ever-present temptation for today’s drivers, but one that must be resisted, officials said.
State Police Superintendent Colonel Rick Fuentes hopes these statistics will motivate people to pay attention and change the behaviors that may be contributing to these sad results. “There’s no room for the use of handheld electronics, or any other distractions while driving. New Jersey can, and must do better in this area,” Fuentes said. “With the greater amount of traffic on the highways in summertime, there’s even more reason to make driving the only focus when you’re behind the wheel,” Fuentes added.
The 101 Days of Summer enforcement and education campaign is just beginning in New Jersey. It includes the annual Click-It or Ticket program for seat belt usage, as well as DWI enforcement.
During the 2010 Memorial Day holiday, eight people lost their lives on New Jersey’s roadways. Out of those eight fatalities, six were found to have drug or alcohol impairment as a contributing factor. Six of seven crash fatalities in 2009 involved drugs or alcohol.
Troopers and police officers will also be providing traffic and boating safety tips throughout the state. Along with increased land-based safety responsibilities, personnel assigned to the State Police Marine Bureau will be patrolling waterways throughout the summer boating season. Enforcement activities will focus on impaired boat drivers and persons recklessly operating personal watercraft (jet skis) and other powered vessels. Marine troopers will also be checking to see that boat operators have obtained the proper licenses to operate watercraft. A good synopsis of boating requirements can be found on the State Police website at www.njsp.org under boating safety.
Law enforcement’s objective is to save lives with the ultimate goal of enjoying a fatality free Memorial Day weekend. The 2011 Memorial Day holiday officially begins at 6 p.m. Friday, May 27, and continues until 6 a.m. Tuesday, May 31.
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