LAKEWOOD — A homeless man crossing the street and a 3-year-old on her bike are just the latest casualties in a deadly month and year so far on the roads in Ocean County.

Police respond to a 3-year-old girl being struck in Lakewood (Lakewood Scoop)

Of the 364 fatalities on New Jersey roads in 2017, according to preliminary statistics updated Monday by State Police, 35 occurred in Ocean County as the result of 34 fatal crashes, and that does not include the death of a homeless man Saturday night along Cedarbridge Avenue.

Year to date, Ocean County tops the state for fatal crashes and related casualties. Essex County is next in line with 26 crashes taking the lives of 27 people.

According to Antonio Ellis, president of the Ocean County Traffic Safety Officers Association, the county is annually among the top 5 for fatalities due to population, the influx of shore traffic and other factors.

"It's definitely nothing we're proud of," added Ocean County Prosecutor's Office spokesman Al Della Fave.

"We do constant, constant safety announcements to try to get people to slow down, operate more responsibly, and even have pedestrians be responsible in terms of crossing against traffic signals," Della Fave said.

In total, 344 fatal crashes have been counted so far on New Jersey's roads, according to State Police data. More than 200 of the victims were the drivers involved. Pedestrians made up nearly 100 of the casualties.

FATAL ACCIDENT STATISTICS AS OF 8/28/17 (NJ State Police)

At this time last year, 367 crashes were registered statewide, responsible for 387 deaths. Total fatalities jumped in 2014, 2015 and 2016, with 603 reported last year.

"Driver inattention remains the most significant cause of fatal and incapacitating crashes in our state," said Gary Poedubicky, acting director of the state Division of Highway Traffic Safety. "It's important that when you're behind the wheel, your focus remains 100 percent on driving and driving alone."

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