According to a 2019 report, New Jersey has more pedestrian deaths on its roadways than any other state, followed by New York and Delaware. While New Jersey participates in initiatives like Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day to raise awareness, one wonders why the fatality rates are so high in this state. Total traffic fatalities are declining across the nation. Why are pedestrian-related accidents not following the trend?
Common causes of pedestrian accidents
There were 175 pedestrian deaths in the state of New Jersey in 2018. The most common factors in a fatal pedestrian accident are distracted walking and distracted driving.
Pedestrians walking the streets are distracted by cellphones, which is what we’re calling distracted walking. Chiefly, this means texting and walking or checking Facebook while on the move—both activities that keep the walker’s eyes on their phone instead of on the road. At intersections or when crossing the road, distractions such as these can lead to a dangerous lack of awareness.
Distracted driving is the other common factor. Whether it be texting, eating or another activity, doing anything other than driving is dangerous for drivers and pedestrians alike. Drivers need to be extremely alert, especially at night when the roads get dark and it’s harder to see walkers. That means their eyes and attention need to be on the road.
What the state is doing to combat the high statistics
Construction projects are underway that will force pedestrians to abide by safety measures. Washington Township, for example, has dedicated $19 million to rehabilitating Route 42, the site of numerous fatalities. They will be adding fencing to the median, which will limit a walker’s ability to jaywalk.
Experts say that more crosswalk signs, better lighting on roads and more education about pedestrian safety is the way to make lasting change. However, for real change to occur, every driver and pedestrian must do their part in abiding by safety laws.