🚔 State officials have released fatal-crash statistics for the year 2022

🚔 Driver inattention is a top contributing factor

🚔 The numbers look more promising for 2023

Nearly 690 lives lost should never be seen as good news.

But the number of fatal crashes and road fatalities did decrease in 2022, according to statistics released in late 2023 by the New Jersey State Police.

Over the 12-month period, officials recorded 689 deaths across 646 fatal crashes — a decrease of 21 fatal collisions and eight fatalities from 2021.

"Traffic related deaths continue to remain one of the leading causes of death in New Jersey and throughout the nation," NJSP said in their latest report. "Through enforcement and education of the motoring public, we will continue to work toward the reduction of motor vehicle fatalities on our roadways."

The fatality count was as low as 558 in 2019.

Preliminary numbers from 2023 suggest that both the number of fatal crashes and the number of road fatalities will be down significantly from 2022. As of early Friday, 573 fatal crashes had taken 604 lives, according to NJSP.

Causes of NJ road fatalities

In 206 of the crashes, driving while intoxicated (alcohol and/or drugs) was listed as a contributing factor. There were 229 people killed as a result of these crashes.

Another top contributing circumstance in 2022's fatal crashes was driver inattention. It was cited as a factor in 170 fatal collisions.

Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic, said distractions behind the wheel include eating, grooming, dealing with kids or pets, and perhaps the biggest threat: the use of one's phone.

"That includes putting your phone on speaker and still holding it. If it still in your hands, that is not hands-free," Noble said.

Forty-nine of the drivers involved in fatal crashes were driving on a suspended licenses. Another 40 were unlicensed.

Weather conditions were clear for 566 of the crashes.

Fatal crash timing

The month of June recorded the highest number of fatal crashes (67) in New Jersey in 2022. July was one behind with 66 fatal crashes, and May had 65.

Traffic safety advocates refer to the warmer months as the "100 deadly days of summer." There's increased traffic, people are driving longer distances for vacations, and there are more younger drivers on the roads.

At 42, the hour of 6 to 6:59 p.m. recorded the highest number of fatal crashes, followed by the 9 p.m. hour.

Saturday was the deadliest day on New Jersey's roads in 2022, recording 114 of the 646 fatal crashes. Saturday was also the deadliest day in 2021, 2020, and 2019.

The county with the highest number of fatal crashes was Middlesex (64). Burlington was second, with 54 deadly collisions.

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