AG Platkin Highlights Preliminary Data Showing Significant Decreases in Fatal Crashes and Traffic-Related Fatalities in 2023

For Immediate Release: January 8, 2024

Office of The Attorney General
– Matthew J. Platkin, Attorney General
Division of Highway Traffic Safety
– Michael J. Rizol Jr., Director

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Media Inquiries-
Mariluz Garcia-Diaz

TRENTON – Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin, along with the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety (HTS), today announced a substantial reduction in traffic-related fatalities in 2023. According to preliminary data as of January 8, 2024, fatal crashes in the state decreased by 9.4%, dropping from 646 in 2022 to 585 in 2023. This positive trend has resulted in an overall 10.4% reduction in fatalities from 2023 to 2022, declining from 689 in 2022 to 617 in 2023, and a 11.5% decrease from the 2021 traffic fatality total of 697.

The decrease in fatalities extends across drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Particularly noteworthy is the significant drop in motor vehicle passenger deaths, which decreased by 16.5% from 103 in 2022 to 86 in 2023. Driver fatalities also decreased by 12.4%, moving from 379 in 2022 to 332 in 2023, while pedestrian fatalities experienced an 8.4% reduction from 191 in 2022 to 175 in 2023.

“The decline in traffic fatalities in New Jersey in 2023 is worthy of recognition and a positive step forward. The last two years marked the two highest years for traffic fatalities in New Jersey since 2007. This reduction gives us hope that our statewide efforts to make our roads safer are working,” said Attorney General Platkin. “But every life lost is a tragedy, and we will not stop until we achieve our goal of bringing traffic fatalities down to zero.”

Preliminary data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates a 4.5% decline in fatalities on the nation’s roads during the first three quarters of 2023. Encouragingly, New Jersey is among the 33 states experiencing a decline in traffic fatalities during that period, with only seven states showing a more substantial drop. New Jersey saw a decline in fatalities in 14 of the 21 counties, with Burlington, Cape May, Hunterdon, Monmouth, Salem, and Sussex counties each experiencing a decline of 30% or greater in 2023 compared to 2022. Hudson County experienced the highest percentage increase of 53%, from 17 fatalities in 2022 to 26 in 2023. Middlesex County had the highest number of traffic fatalities in 2023, at 64.

“A decline in traffic fatalities requires collective efforts and a shared belief in the importance of safe driving. This improvement is a testament to the continuous support from Attorney General Platkin, the dedication of state, county, municipal, and private traffic safety partners, and the effectiveness of our statewide initiatives. However, there’s much work ahead,” said Michael J. Rizol Jr., Director of the Division of Highway Traffic Safety. “With over 600 lives lost on our roads this year, we must recognize that our work is far from finished.”

In 2023, HTS allocated over $25 million to various law enforcement agencies and strategic partners statewide, reinforcing their traffic safety endeavors and remaining committed to implementing a comprehensive highway traffic safety plan that combines high-visibility enforcement mobilization with educational awareness campaigns to maximize impact. These efforts were coordinated with law enforcement and nonprofit agencies to ensure widespread effect across the state.

HTS also relies on public awareness campaigns to spread the message of the importance of safe driving and the reality of making dangerous decisions behind the wheel. Diverse messaging platforms, including social media such as Facebook, Snapchat, and YouTube, static billboards, electronic signs, radio and streaming audio, and traffic and weather report safety messaging, were utilized.

Despite the positive signs in 2023, eliminating traffic-related deaths remains the mission of HTS. In the years to come, the focus will remain on reducing the hazards that most often contribute to these tragedies, including impaired and distracted driving, speeding, and failure to wear a seatbelt. The public’s cooperation in recognizing the consequences of these unsafe driving practices and embracing the importance of responsible driving will be the keys to further improvements.

HTS reiterates its commitment to saving lives on our roads, urging motorists to prioritize safety, adhere to traffic laws, and stay vigilant while driving, biking or walking. By fostering a culture of mutual responsibility and cooperation, all New Jersey road users can continue building on the successes of 2023 and work towards creating roadways with zero fatalities.

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