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TRENTON –As motorists take to New Jersey roadways this summer, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Division of Highway Traffic Safety (“HTS”) today offered seven lifesaving tips for safe travels through the Garden State.
The days that stretch between Memorial Day and Labor Day – often referred to as the 101 Days of Summer – mark one of the busiest, but unfortunately the most dangerous, travel times of the year.
As roadways come alive with more traffic, this brings with it more distractions, more holiday revelers, more road construction, and more young drivers with free time to fill, leading to a rise in crashes and fatalities.
In New Jersey, an analysis of five-year State Police crash data found that fatal crashes, alcohol-related crashes, and young-driver crashes all occur at higher rates during June, July, and August.
“New Jersey in summer is a wonderful place to be for our residents and the thousands of out-of-state visitors we see each year,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Whether folks are headed for vacations at the shore, a night on the boardwalk, or holiday cookouts with friends and family, ensuring that everyone reaches their destination safely is a responsibility we all share. When you head out on a summer road trip, please remember the life-saving importance of safe driving behaviors.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (“NHTSA”), in 2019 there were 36,096 traffic fatalities nationwide, with more than 27 percent of them occurring during the three-month period from June through August.
In New Jersey, the statistics are sobering. Of the 558 lives lost in traffic crashes that year, more than 40 percent occurred during the three-month summer stretch.
This year, to reduce the risks associated with summer travel, HTS will be working with its partners in New Jersey’s law enforcement and traffic safety communities to promote traffic safety through initiatives that include increased roadway patrols, NHTSA’s annual “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” intoxicated driving enforcement campaign, and HTS’s ongoing “Control Your Destiny” distracted driving public awareness campaign.
“Although New Jersey’s highways remain some of the safest in the nation, every loss of life on our roadways reminds us that there’s more work to be done,” said Eric Heitmann, Director of the Division of Highway Traffic Safety. “HTS is committed to doing all we can to reduce risks, prevent crashes, and save lives on New Jersey roads this summer. Today we’re calling on the motoring public to join us by following some simple driving tips to help make this the safest 101 Days of Summer ever.”
Seven Lifesaving Tips for Safe Summer Travels
- Buckle Up. Wearing a seatbelt is the most effective way to prevent death and serious injury in a crash. Make sure you and your passengers – in both the front and back seats – are buckled up for every trip. If you’re traveling with youngsters, make sure they’re restrained in age-appropriate, properly installed child seats at all times.
- Pay Attention. Distracted driving is a leading cause of fatal crashes. Don’t put yourself and others at risk by chatting on the phone, texting, eating, or adjusting the radio while behind the wheel. Keep your mind on your driving and your eyes on the road at all times.
- Stay Sober. Alcohol and drugs can impair the skills critical to safe and responsible driving – including coordination, judgment, perception, and reaction time. Never get behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Always have a designated driver, taxi, or ride-share service available.
- Slow Down. Speed is a significant factor in traffic crashes, especially those resulting in serious injury or death. The faster a driver is going, the more difficult it is to stop. And when a crash occurs at high speeds, the chances of sustaining serious injuries or death are increased. Obey all posted speed limits to ensure you and others arrive safely.
- Talk to Teens. The 101 Days of summer are deadliest for drivers ages 15-20 and their passengers. Nationwide in 2019, teenage crash deaths occurred most often in the month of June, followed closely by July and August. More than half of those deaths occurred on the weekend. Talk to teen drivers about the increased risks of summer travel and how to mitigate them. And make sure teens comply with the provisions of their Graduated Driver’s Licenses.
- Give Emergency Responders a Brake. Police, fire, emergency medical services, and other responders are at risk of being killed or injured by passing vehicles at roadside emergencies. Help keep these public servants safe by obeying the New Jersey Move Over Law. When you see a stopped emergency vehicle, slow down and move over a lane if possible. If traffic or other conditions prevent you from changing lanes, slow down and proceed with caution.
- Respect the Heat. On a hot day, the temperature inside a car can rise to dangerous levels within minutes. Never leave children or pets in a parked car, even in the shade with the windows rolled down. Most pediatric heat stroke cases stem from a caregiver forgetting about the child, but about a quarter of occur because the child accesses an unattended vehicle. Always check the front and back seats before you exit your vehicle and keep your car locked against curious youngsters.