Personal Injury Articles for the Injured of NJ

"Car Accidents and Collisions in NJ: Year End Review for 2018"

Posted by Francis M. Smith on Wed, Feb 06, 2019

By Francis M. Smith

The start of a new year is a natural time for looking at past trends and reflecting on ways to improve them going forward. As a personal injury attorney with extensive experience handling cases involving automotive accidents, I tend to turn that reflective impulse toward collision trends, in the hope of gaining a better understanding of the causes of the accidents that affect my clients. The New Jersey Department of Transportation compiles statistical records of collision rates throughout the state, broken down by county. It’s no surprise that more heavily-populated and urban counties tend to see more auto accidents than their less-populous neighbors, but what is remarkable is the way some counties see major fluctuations in the number of collisions that take place from year to year, while other areas experience a fairly consistent rate of crashes. Understanding what causes those changes, and why they affect some counties more strongly than others, may help uncover ways to keep all New Jersey road users safer.

car-accidents-and-collisions-in-njThe New Jersey Department of Transportation compiles data on accident rates in each county on a yearly basis and makes this data available on their website, going back to 2001. Looking at a few individual counties, it’s easy to see how different areas have vastly varying experiences – not just with the number of accidents, but with how those numbers change from year to year. For example, it’s only to be expected that Essex County, the third-most heavily populated county in the state and part of the New York metro area, saw nearly ten times as many auto accidents in 2017 as each of the less densely-populated Sussex and Warren Counties. What is perhaps less predictable, however, is that annual accident rates in the latter two counties have remained comparatively flat since 2001, while the same period of time saw an enormous fluctuation in annual accidents in Essex County. There, a five-year period from 2002 to 2007 saw a 11,000-point drop in accident figures – only to be followed by an upswing of 5,000 additional crashes the very next year. These areas are not so far apart, geographically, that Essex County’s fluctuating annual accident rate and Sussex County’s relatively flat accident rate can be attributed to different weather patterns. What, then, makes denser urban counties like Essex more susceptible to factors that alter accident rates – factors that the don't seem to impact more sparsely populated Sussex and Warren Counties?

One possibility is the changing emphasis of enforcement efforts. As distracted driving awareness has increased over the past several years, particularly as it concerns cell phone use and texting while driving, initial efforts to curb this dangerous behavior are often tested out in densely populated urban centers where accidents take place at higher rates. Any changes in enforcement or awareness-raising efforts would therefore most likely be felt first and most sharply in these areas, for good or ill.

There are, of course, some common trends that hold more or less true across the state. Overall, the trend over the last five years has been an increase in the number of traffic accidents; only four of New Jersey’s 21 counties saw fewer crashes in 2017 than in 2013. Though auto manufacturers have instituted numerous driver assistance and safety features into their vehicles in the past few years, the number of in-vehicle distractions, whether from built-in dashboard displays or from smartphone apps, has likewise increased. Few parts of the state have escaped the consequences of this increase in driver distractions, though some areas have felt it NJ Car insurance Buyers Guidemore keenly than others.

At the end of the day, this sort of statistical data is vital for policymakers to examine and understand, but the most important facts for you as a motorist to take away from this discussion are that automotive collisions throughout the state are on the rise, and some areas (especially more heavily populated urban centers) are more vulnerable to factors that affect accident rates, for better or worse, than their suburban and rural neighbors. Hopefully you will never have occasion to apply this information to your own life; being involved in a motor vehicle accident is a frightening and sometimes life-changing event. If you do ever find yourself in an accident, particularly one in which the other driver was at fault, there are a few important things you should keep in mind about how to proceed. One of the best things you can do for yourself in the aftermath of a serious car crash is get in touch with an experienced automotive injury attorney, who can guide you personally through any issues that arise should it turn out that you or a passenger in your vehicle was seriously hurt. Not all motor vehicle accident injuries make themselves obvious right away, and it’s better to protect yourself than regret it.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a serious accident, please contact me or call me at 908-233-5800 for a free consultation. 

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Topics: Motor Vehicle Accidents"Motor Vehicle Accidents", Car Accidents"Car Accidents", Distracted Driving"Distracted Driving"

© 2016 Francis M. Smith, Esq., NJ Personal Injury Attorney

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