COVID-19 has brought many hardships and difficult times to our country. If there is one silver lining, it is the fact that there are not as many drivers on the road. This caused a major decline in fatal car accidents in New Jersey.
As businesses shut their doors and travel was restricted, the roads became abandoned. People were now remaining inside their houses and refraining from driving, so you can imagine why these car accident fatalities were going down.
Traffic deaths in New Jersey for April fell to the lowest they have ever been in more than 50 years. Even though COVID-19 has brought disaster and heartache, we can at least be thankful for the dramatic decrease in fatalities. Last month, 26 people died in car accidents across the state, the fewest in that month since at least 1968, according to New Jersey State Police data.
That Was Then, This Is Now: New Jersey Car Accidents Before and After COVID-19
New Jersey roadways have always maintained a consistent pattern. This is before the COVID-19 guidelines and at-home order was put into place. New Jersey State Police data reported that car-related fatalities in March 2020 were very similar to the fatality reports from March 2019, and only three less than the average numbers from 2015-2018.
April 2020 is when things changed dramatically. Governor Murphy enforced travel restrictions as the coronavirus pandemic grew. This in turn caused a drop in the number of cars on the roadway. New Jersey State Police recorded nearly a 35% drop in fatal car accidents from April 2020 compared to April 2019. The year of COVID-19 also marked the lowest car crash death total for April since 1968.
Will New Jersey Death Tolls Continue to Drop During the COVID-19 Pandemic?
While state police tell us that car accident fatalities are down 9% in 2020 compared to 2019, they warn us all that driver behavior is still resulting in fatal car accidents. Given the reduction in New Jersey traffic by nearly 62%, there is a widespread concern that the rate of decline in traffic-related fatalities is not corresponding with the decrease in traffic.
A possible reason for the disparity between reduced traffic fatalities and fewer cars on the road is that drivers view open roads as opportunities to engage in high-risk behaviors while driving. This is always a possibility.
As New Jersey travel restrictions ease after the coronavirus shutdown, drivers will need to be extra cautious to engage in safe driving practices. Being cooped up for so long in your residence and not having driven for a long while may cause you to be a bit rusty behind the wheel.
Make sure to brush up on your driving skills and always be prepared if an accident or difficult situation were to occur. While New Jersey drivers have benefited from reduced traffic and traffic-related fatalities during the coronavirus pandemic, driving still presents innate dangers. For drivers taking on the roads, there is always a need for mindfulness about traffic conditions, roadway hazards, and your own behavior behind the wheel.
Be safe, wash your hands, and be mindful on the road.