Since the pandemic, car crashes have increased across the United States. Factors like congestion, speeding, and distracted driving are putting people at risk.
In New Jersey, deadly crashes are the highest they’ve been in 20 years. We’re also seeing more fatalities. Congestion on busy interstate highways that lead to and from New York City is an important factor, but unsafe driving is also an ongoing issue.
Read on to learn more about car crash statistics for New Jersey, important legal concepts, and how a New Jersey car accident lawyer can help after a crash.
New Jersey Overview
With an estimated 9.2 million people living in New Jersey, it’s no surprise roads get busy. There are 1.8 cars per family on average. The car ownership rate is 88% for the state, which is lower than in other areas.
New Jersey has a good public transit system, which could explain why fewer people own cars. Plus, a car costs a little under $900 a month. For many, public transit is cheaper and more convenient.
Fewer people have cars compared to other states, but driving is still very common. In fact, the Garden State is investing $2.47 billion in roads. There are seven mega projects in the works that will improve the infrastructure. For instance, all the lanes on the Pulaski Skyway will open soon after undergoing construction for several years. The state is also working on demolishing the old WittPenn bridge.
The state is also investing more than $2.6 billion into developing its public transit infrastructure, with a focus on upgrading train stations. This project could help reduce congestion on the roads and create safer conditions for commuters.
New Jersey makes road safety a priority. It’s one of the few states with a multi-stage system for getting a driver’s license. Young drivers can’t be on the road at night and can’t drive with several passengers. These rules help keep inexperienced drivers safe.
More than 200 communities are taking part in the Street Smart program. This program prevents pedestrian fatalities through education and projects that improve safety. Plus, law enforcement and local governments regularly launch initiatives to curb unsafe driving practices, such as the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign.
New Jersey Statistics
Between January and August 2022, there were 440 fatal accidents and 422 non-fatal crashes on the road. This number is consistent with the 7% increase that is happening nationwide. This increase is even more significant in New Jersey, with police reporting 13% more fatal crashes during the first three months of 2022 compared to the same period last year. As a result, drivers should remain cautious.
Some New Jersey cities have a good public transit system. In Hoboken, Guttenberg, or Jersey City, many people use public transit to go to work. Union City, Newark, and Orange Township also have great options for public transit.
However, the average commute is 32 minutes long. For many, it’s more convenient to drive. Driving to New York City for work is also a common practice.
Among the busiest roads, we find the Garden State Parkway. This road connects the Jersey Shore to New York City. Interstate-95 and I-80 are also common roads for commuting.
The most dangerous roads in New Jersey are mostly interstate and highways. These busy roads connect cities together. They also connect New Jersey to New York.
I-95 runs along the East Coast from Maine to Florida. It’s one of the most dangerous roads in the country, especially the stretch between exits 6 and 18.
I-80 is another dangerous road. It runs through the entire country and connects California to the East Coast. There is an especially dangerous stretch as you approach New York City.
The Pulaski Skyway is a well-known spot for crashes. There have been some efforts to improve safety. However, this highway dates back to the 1930s. The lanes are too narrow for newer and larger vehicles.
Other dangerous roads include Routes 1,9, 22, and 27, as well as I-287.
While recent winters have seen less snowfall than usual, cold and icy conditions can make these busy axes more dangerous in the winter months, rain is another factor that can make roads more dangerous, with 40 to 50” of precipitation a year on average.
Congestion and busy highways can create dangerous conditions.
However, some behaviors put drivers at risk. During COVID-19, speeding played a part in 23% of traffic fatalities. Empty roads led to more speeding during the pandemic. Some drivers are still driving too fast now that traffic is back to normal.
Distracted driving is also a major problem. The police believe that it played a role in a third of fatal accidents recorded between 2011 and 2020. Distracted driving may have caused 20% of all crashes on New Jersey roads. While driving with passengers can cause teen drivers to engage in distracted driving, cell phone use is an issue that affects all age groups.
Some motorists also report that they’ve been noticing an uptick in aggressive driving practices. The general sentiment is that drivers tend to be more reckless and more aggressive since the pandemic.
Compared to other states, drunk driving is a lesser issue. With 230 DUI arrests in 2020, New Jersey has one of the lowest drunk driving rates. However, drunk driving still happens and can have fatal consequences.
Most Common Accident Types
Icy roads make crashes more likely. In early 2022, a winter storm resulted in 170 crashes in New Jersey. Some of these accidents were minor, but many were not. Wintry conditions make roads more dangerous.
In 2020, a total of 58% of crashes involved one vehicle. Multi-vehicle crashes represent 42% of accidents. These numbers suggest drivers are more likely to hit objects rather than other cars. It’s consistent with the high rates of distracted driving reported in New Jersey.
Drunk driving, as mentioned earlier, is less common in New Jersey, but it’s still behind 27% of fatalities.
Police are also seeing an increase in animal collisions. Most of these take place at night. In 2021, there were more than 500 collisions reported in Monmouth County alone.
Ordinary Negligence and Negligence Per Se
Ordinary negligence is an important legal concept in a car crash. A New Jersey car accident lawyer will use this concept when negotiating with insurers or presenting a case in court.
A car accident attorney in New Jersey can prove that ordinary negligence happens if a person makes a mistake that puts others in danger. It’s not something they do on purpose.
When a driver makes a mistake that results in a crash, ordinary negligence applies. In other cases, drivers may go beyond failing to meet their duty of care and break the law.
If a driver breaks the law, a car accident attorney in New Jersey could show that negligence per se happened. It’s a more serious offense that can result in steeper punishment. The burden of proof will switch to the defendant if a lawyer establishes negligence per se.
Negligence per se cases are on the rise. As many as 20% of drivers are distracted in New Jersey. Cell phone use is the top cause. Since calling or texting behind the wheel is a primary offense, causing an accident while being on the phone is negligence per se.
Drunk driving is another example. In 2020, 25% of fatalities were the result of DUI.
Duty of Reasonable Care
Duty of reasonable care is another important concept a New Jersey car accident lawyer can use. It’s the idea that everyone has a basic level of responsibility.
You can fulfill this duty by being aware of others. When driving, your duty of reasonable care is to follow traffic rules. For instance, you should drive under the speed limit and give the right of way at intersections.
Everyone shares this basic responsibility. For commercial drivers, the standards are higher. Courts expect more from them since it’s their job to drive. It can mean steeper punishments for these drivers.
Breach of Duty
Accidents are often the result of a person failing to perform their duty of care. It’s a breach of duty.
A New Jersey car accident lawyer can prove that a breach happened. They can work with testimonies or a police report.
Cause and Damages
When a car accident attorney in New Jersey builds a case, they have to show the link between the breach of duty and the crash.
Proving that a breach of duty happened isn’t enough. They have to show how it led to a crash and how the crash caused damage.
Some accidents are complex scenarios. For instance, some damages might not have a direct link. A New Jersey car accident lawyer can prove how the symptoms that appeared the next day resulted from the accident or how the accident resulted in lost wages or long-term medical problems.
A car accident attorney in New Jersey will also show the extent of the damages. This is important because it determines how much you may get for compensation.
A New Jersey car accident lawyer will use concrete evidence such as medical bills and car repair costs or expert testimonies to show how an accident impacted your life.
Collateral Source Rule
Insurers sometimes pay for the damages. In New Jersey, you have to disclose what your insurance company covers. The collateral source rule applies, which means the liable party will pay less in damages.
If you received coverage through Medicare, Medicaid, or your workers’ compensation insurance, the defendant has to pay these programs back.
Dram Shop Law
Dram shop laws hold businesses that serve alcohol responsibly. In New Jersey, if a drunk driver injures you, you can seek compensation from the business that served them alcohol in two situations:
- The drunk driver is under 21, and the business reasonably should have known about their age.
- The business kept serving an intoxicated patron.
A car accident attorney in New Jersey can help prove that a bar or other business played a role in causing the accident.
When a car accident attorney in New Jersey negotiates with an insurance company or builds a court case, one of their goals is to establish fault. The responsible party will then have to pay damages.
Fault can be complex. It’s not always clear who’s responsible, and two or more drivers can share the blame.
New Jersey is a comparative fault state. A car accident attorney in New Jersey can help you obtain compensation as long as the other party has a greater share of the blame. However, you’ll get reduced compensation to reflect the part you played in the crash.
For instance, if person A is 60% responsible and person B is 40% responsible for the accident, person B can seek compensation for up to 60% of the damages.
Things are different with multiple parties:
- If a person carries more than 60% of the blame, you can get full compensation from them.
- You can sue parties with less than 60% in liability. However, you’ll receive a reduced payout.
Establishing liability isn’t always straightforward. It’s important to work with a New Jersey car accident lawyer who can reconstruct the details of the accident to understand the role each driver played.
Top Five New Jersey Cities for Car Crashes
The risks of crashes are higher in busy urban areas, especially on congested axes that connect New Jersey to New York City. As car crash numbers continue to increase, a growing number of communities are taking steps to make the roads safer. Over 200 New Jersey municipalities have taken part in the Street Smart campaign, and the state is currently looking into creating a Vision Zero task force.
Newark is the largest city in New Jersey. It’s also the seat of Essex County. There are over 307 thousand people living in Newark. On average, people in Newark commute for 34 minutes.
Essex County police reported 31 accidents so far in 2022. Around a third happened in Newark.
There were 37 fatalities so far in 2022 for the county. A single crash in July caused four fatal accidents on State Highway 27. There were also ten pedestrian fatalities in the county.
Some of the most dangerous roads run through Newark, including Route 21 and I-280. The New Jersey Turnpike that connects Newark to New York City and the Garden State Parkway are also dangerous. These two axes accommodate millions of commuters every day, and congestion is an ongoing issue.
Jersey City is the largest city in Hudson County. It’s the second largest city in the state, with almost 284 thousand people.
Close to 50% of Jersey City residents use public transportation. There are still accidents in Hudson County, but numbers are lower compared to Essex County. Public transit could account for the difference.
In 2022, there were 10 accidents and 11 fatalities in the county. Only three happened in Jersey City.
Jersey City was one of the first municipalities in New Jersey to adopt a Vision Zero plan to reduce traffic fatalities. Officials estimate that these efforts have led to a reduction of 40% in traffic deaths since last year.
Paterson has around 157 thousand people. It’s the largest city in Passaic County.
Police reported five accidents in the city for 2022. Passaic County had a total of 13 accidents and 13 fatalities.
The city of Paterson is working on making the roads safer. The New Jersey Department of Transportation recently awarded $662,000 to the city of Paterson to support projects that would improve safety around schools and at 93 of the city’s intersections.
With I-95, State Route 9, and I-278 going through Elizabeth, it’s no wonder it’s one of the most dangerous cities. Plus, the city sees traffic because of the nearby Newark Airport.
Police reported 18 fatal crashes so far this year in Union County. Three occurred in Elizabeth City.
Toms River is a township in Ocean County, which is one of the largest counties in New Jersey. This area is less densely populated. However, there were still 32 accidents in the entire county. Police reported 25 fatalities.
Five crashes happened in Toms River. One of these crashes accounted for three fatalities on County Road 527.
Route 27 and the Garden State Parkway are some of the most dangerous spots for the county.
Hoboken is less populated than these cities. However, Mile Square City deserves a special mention. It has had no traffic fatalities for the past four years.
After noticing that 88% of crashes took place at intersections, the city took drastic measures. It added space for pedestrians and cyclists. It also limited parking near intersections to improve visibility.
It’s an interesting example that shows how urban planning can make roads safer, and more cities could adopt the Vision Zero approach in the near future.
Finding an Auto Accident Attorney in New Jersey
Recent data shows that crashes are up in New Jersey. New Jersey has laws to protect car crash victims. Whether you sustained injuries or property damage, you may be entitled to compensation. A car accident attorney in New Jersey can help.
Accident.com can put you in touch with an experienced New Jersey car accident lawyer from our network for a free case evaluation.