Bergen County, NJ (August 20th, 2022) – According to a recent report, the number of traffic-related deaths in the State of New Jersey has outpaced the two-decade-high national rate.
A report recently published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that traffic fatalities have increased significantly in the first three months of the year. The findings have propelled the State of New Jersey to be the leading state in the highest number of traffic-related deaths in two decades.
According to the report, the State of New Jersey has outpaced the 7% national average with an increase in fatal traffic accidents by more than 13%. New Jersey State Police indicate that this rate has unfortunately continued into the month of August.
Up until August 19th, 2022, state police indicate that there were 440 traffic-related deaths reported, which include passengers, cyclists, drivers, and pedestrians. When comparing these figures to the same date a year prior, officials state that there were 389 traffic-related deaths in 2021. A year before that, the number was 337.
The president of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Cathy Chase, said in a statement that the increasing rates of fatal traffic accidents are an “escalating emergency”.
Based on federal data, the nationwide increase in fatal traffic accidents since 2019 is at its highest since the 1970s. As a result of these concerning rates, multiple government agencies have responded to the problem with programs. For instance, the Trenton’s Wheels Risk program and the Speeding Wrecks Lives campaign were both launched by the federal government during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their efforts are set to spread awareness about the risks of driving while under the influence and speeding, respectively.
Federal records indicate that between 2020 and 2019, speeding-related deaths rose by 23% as the pandemic kept traffic down. In addition, the U.S. Department of Transportation indicates that the rate of motorists testing positive for opioids doubled over a six-month period after March 2020, when the pandemic closures began.
In the effort of combating these trends, Cathy Chase has called for better and more widespread crash avoidance technology in vehicles, such as blind-spot detection devices and automatic emergency braking.
She recently stated that with every passing day, everyone who uses public roads is placed needlessly in danger. She went on to say that we as a society cannot rely on awareness campaigns to combat the increasing rate of traffic-related fatalities. These types of awareness campaigns have been around for many years and with the possibility of autonomous vehicles, further change needs to occur.
For the most part, the yearly death rate from collisions as well as the miles traveled has been declining since the late ‘60s. With that said, the rate of deaths per mile has not improved much in the last decade before 2020, based on records published by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Steven Cliff, said that the numbers since 2020 are trending in the wrong direction. He said in a statement that now is the time for every state across the nation to double down on safety on the road.
In the State of New Jersey, there are traffic safety programs set in place that aim to prevent the injury or death of those who use the road. For instance, the state passed new safe passing laws, which mandate a 4-foot buffer for motorists passing bicyclists and there are indications that this law may be helping. Although the overall death rate through mid-August increased by approximately 30% between the years 2020 and 2022, the death rate among bicycle riders and pedestrians has remained consistent.
Fueling the State of New Jersey’s increases in overall traffic accident deaths are the rate of fatal collisions and motorists passing away in them. The New Jersey State Police Department has indicated that in 2020, there were 314 accidents through August 19th. This year, however, the department has reported 416 accidents. The number of motorists who passed away in these accidents rose from 170 to a staggering 260.
In 2021, the State of New Jersey experienced the highest number of traffic-related deaths since 2007. Of the 699 deaths that occurred in 2021, 35 deaths were reported in Bergen County. This year alone, Bergen County has already recorded 27 traffic-related deaths.
Some of the most tragic types of traffic accidents are those that claim the life of an innocent person. When the reckless behavior or negligence of another causes the unnecessary death of a person, those who were financially dependent on the victim can seek monetary compensation through a wrongful death claim.
The State of New Jersey has a relatively restrictive statute for actions involving wrongful death. Those who are eligible to bring a case forward are those who would otherwise inherit from the victim under the state’s laws of inheritance. This includes the victim’s surviving spouse and dependent children, surviving parents, and surviving brothers or sisters.
Plaintiffs seeking compensation through a wrongful death claim in New Jersey are only able to recover economic losses, not non-economic ones like trauma. Examples of these tangible damages include a loss of the victim’s income and benefits, a loss of the services and assistance the decedent would have provided, funeral and burial costs, along with reasonable medical expenses.
In New Jersey, the statute of limitations for most wrongful death actions is two years from the date of the victim’s passing. When the claim is not filed in that allowable time frame, the plaintiff will lose the right to recover any damages.
If you have recently lost a family member in a traffic accident in New Jersey, take swift action and get in touch with a compassionate attorney who can help advocate for your rights. Understandably, losing a loved one can be an incredibly emotional and agonizing experience. With the support of a qualified attorney, it will be possible to hold the negligent party accountable and possibly prevent others from suffering the same fate.
At Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C., the dedicated attorneys approach every wrongful death claim with utmost empathy and compassion. The law firm understands that these cases are usually difficult to build and that they generally require aggressive litigation. The attorneys at Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C., however, are prepared to handle the most complex and difficult cases, ensuring their clients receive the highest amount of compensation possible. After the tragic loss of a loved one, consider contacting Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C. for proficient and compassionate legal support. Schedule your free consultation with the law firm today.