Memorial Day is traditionally the kick-off to the summer driving season, but this year New Jersey motorists have a reason to drive with added caution. Last year’s historic low in New Jersey traffic fatalities may not be improved upon if 2014 trends do not change. New Jersey State Police statistics show that 195 people have died in traffic-related accidents so far this year (January 1- May 18, 2014), which is up more than seven percent over the 182 crash related fatalities from the year before.
During the 2013 Memorial Day holiday, four people died on New Jersey roadways, all of them on Monday. One out of the four crash fatalities was found to have drug or alcohol impairment as a contributing factor.
State Police Superintendent Colonel Rick Fuentes hopes to beat 2013’s numbers, but fears the state is not on the right path. “We know that besides drinking and driving, distracted driving kills,” he said. “Anything that makes a driver less sharp, or delays reaction time, will result in crashes and fatalities. Both intoxication and distractions fit that bill.”
In an effort to maintain a safe driving environment throughout the weekend, New Jersey State Police will have well over 100 additional troopers working supplemental details. Troopers will concentrate their efforts on intoxicated drivers, seatbelt usage, cell phone violations, and keeping pedestrians off the highway.
Motorists are also reminded that when they see flashing lights on emergency vehicles they need to move over, or be ticketed for the violation. According to New Jersey’s Move Over Law, drivers approaching stationary emergency vehicles, tow trucks, and other highway safety vehicles displaying flashing lights must move over to leave an empty lane next to those vehicles. If it is not safe to move over, drivers must slow down below the posted speed limit.
The State Police Marine Bureau will be patrolling the state’s waterways this weekend and throughout the summer focusing their activities on impaired boat drivers and persons recklessly operating personal watercraft or other powered vessels. Marine troopers will also be checking to ensure that boat operators have obtained the proper licenses needed to operate a watercraft.
Law enforcement’s objective is to save lives, with the ultimate goal of enjoying a fatality free Memorial Day weekend. The 2014 Memorial Day holiday officially began at 6:00 p.m. Friday, May 23 and continues until 6:00 a.m. Tuesday, May 27.