TRENTON, NJ – The number of driving-related fatalities in New Jersey surged during the 2020 pandemic, even though the amount of miles driven last year was down significantly. Across America, the number of miles driven in 2020 was down over 40% compared to 2019 and previous years due to the pandemic.
In New Jersey, that was also true, but traffic fatalities rose from 130 to 15.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and New Jersey State Police Superintendent Patrick Callahan said that’s because the open road is a more dangerous road ahead than 5 p.m. rush hour on the Garden State Parkway.
“I think what’s also important to point out is that the total number of accidents last year was down 31%, so we were down from just over 45,000 down to 31,000 crashes in 2020, which is an indication that speed is generally the driving factor there,” Callahan said. “That lighter traffic in the most densely populated state in the union led to, you know, I think we ended up at 145 fatalities in 2020, up from 130. The open road definitely contributed to that.”
Murphy agreed that the road ahead is not always as safe as it appears, especially when it’s a wide-open road while many New Jerseyeans don’t have jobs to go to.
“Am I right that the open road is not necessarily our friend here?” Murphy asked Callahan.