Over the years, cars have become safer in the sense of affording more protection to drivers and passengers. In New Jersey and, generally, throughout the country, highways have statistically fewer accidents. Nonetheless, there are numerous vehicle collisions each day, and although, thankfully, most are minor in nature, some cause serious injury or worse. While the typical driver thinks the 'other guy" poses the primary danger of causing an accident, every person who gets behind the wheel should consider basic safety driving techniques.
Motorists in New Jersey and other states are increasingly engaging in road rage and other aggressive driving behaviors, according to federal data. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that deadly car accidents involving aggressive driving have skyrocketed in recent years. In addition, a nonprofit news organization reported that incidents involving drivers brandishing or firing guns at other drivers climbed from 247 in 2014 to 620 in 2016.
The driver-assist technology in some new vehicles depends on radar, cameras and software to interpret the data. Although driver-assist features, like automatic emergency braking, have the potential to reduce traffic accidents in New Jersey, drivers cannot rely on them entirely. The chief research officer for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety called the software a work in progress.
Alcohol impairs the central nervous system and can cause everything from impaired muscle coordination to memory lapses. Even a small lapse in judgment can prevent one from doing two things at once or tracking a moving object. When alcohol consumption mixes with driving, the results can be fatal. Every year in New Jersey and across the U.S., around 10,000 people die in drunk driving crashes.
Nearly one in five drivers throughout New Jersey and the rest of the country are older than 65. That figure has risen by almost a third in just the last decade, and it is expected to climb even further in the years ahead as the baby boom generation enters its golden years. Accident statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveal that fatal crashes involve an older driver about 14% of the time. The rise in the number of seniors killed on the nation's roads each year is outpacing other demographic groups.
The Fourth of July means holiday celebrations in New Jersey and all over the country. It also indicates traffic accidents, drunk drivers and fatalities on the road. Between the years 2010 and 2017, there were 1,192 traffic fatalities caused by drunk drivers nationwide. On average, there were 42.4 DUI fatalities on the Fourth of July each year during the period studied. Memorial Day and Labor Day were the second- and third-deadliest DUI holidays with 39.5 and 38.1 DUI fatalities respectively on average.
Ford Motor Company states that the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is an especially dangerous time for teen drivers, who are inexperienced to begin with. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, calling this period the "100 deadliest days for teen drivers," found that the fatal car crash risk for teens increases 15% during summer. Parents in New Jersey are thus advised to teach their teens about safe driving, over and over again if necessary.
Driving while drowsy on New Jersey roads can put people in danger. Individuals should not drive after taking prescription sleep aids as it could increase their risk of being too groggy to do so safely. It is also important to point out that driving after being awake for 24 straight hours is like driving with a blood alcohol level of .10%. That is higher than the legal limit of .08% in most states.
A study, the results of which have been published in JAMA Network Open, has found that opioid use raises the risk for fatal motor vehicle crashes. New Jersey residents should know that prior to the opioid epidemic that began in the 1990s, opioids were responsible for about 1% of driver deaths in the US whereas recent years have seen the statistic rise to 7%.
Smartphones and other mobile devices are a major source of distraction for drivers in New Jersey as elsewhere in the U.S. Root Insurance, an insurer that provides incentives to drivers who avoid phone use, has recently made known the results of its second annual distracted driving study, and they show that distractions are becoming a nationwide road safety issue.