The New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety (DHTS) is participating in "Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day" today, a national awareness campaign to remind the public about traffic safety issues

Put THe Brakes On For Safety logo

Stepped up patrols will be on watch for careless, reckless and impaired action behind the wheel over a 24-hour period.

According to DHTS, New Jersey has seen a drop of almost 20 percent in deaths on its roads between 2003 and 2012. The toll in 2011 was 627 people. As of this week, 402 lives were lost in crashes during 2013, which the agency says is a decline of 8.8 percent compared to the same point last year.

"Despite the improving safety numbers, we want everyone to be extra vigilant tomorrow," said Gary Poedubicky, acting director of DHTS. "Many of the tragedies on our roads are completely preventable."

In Ocean County, annual highway death totals routinely land at or near the top of the statewide list. There have been 38 deaths in 36 crashes this year.

"It's just something that we hope gains traction where people have one day of safe driving and say, 'You know what? I'm going to take this a second day.' And then it continues throughout the year," said Al Della Fave, spokesman for Ocean County Prosecutor's Office

Highway safety officials offer a safe-driving checklist:

  • Buckle up, everyone, every ride.
  • Hang up! Just drive.
  • Never drink and drive.
  • Motorists, stop for pedestrians in the crosswalks. Pedestrians, look both ways before crossing.
  • Obey all traffic signs and signals.
  • Move over for emergency vehicles.
  • Share the road with motorcycles.
  • Avoid aggressive drivers and driving aggressively.
  • Keep children safe by using the appropriate safety seat.
  • Slow down in work zones.

Read more about "Put The Brakes on Fatalities Day" and other intiatives at the NJHTSD website.