According to New Jersey State Police statistics released this week, the number of traffic accident fatalities has dropped from 627 in 2011 to 592 in 2012. However, it’s not getting any safer to walk in the Garden State: pedestrian deaths rose significantly, from 143 last year to 164 in 2012.
Overall, Middlesex County led the state in 2012 traffic deaths, with 67 people killed in 62 accidents. Next came Ocean County, where 51 people died in 48 crashes; Burlington County, where 49 people died in 45 crashes; and Essex County, where 43 people died in 42 crashes.
Monmouth County saw 33 fatal crashes in 2012, which claimed the lives of 35 people. There were 31 people killed in 28 accidents in Morris County; 30 people died in 30 crashes in Union County; 26 people died in 25 crashes in Camden County; and 17 lost their lives in 15 crashes in Somerset County, state police statistics said.
The reasons for the jump in pedestrian deaths is unclear until the state police annual analysis is released, but many planners speculate that pedestrians are often forced to walk along unsafe arterial roads for lack of safer pedestrian routes.
Older Peds at Even More Risk
The State Police statistics say the 50-to-64 age group has had the highest number of pedestrian deaths in 2012, with 37 people killed, followed by 29 deaths in the 40-to-49 age group.
This falls in line with a recent study from the Tri-State Transportation Campaign that found that older pedestrians (over the age of 60) are far more likely to be killed while walking than younger pedestrians. Their study, from 2012, found that in New Jersey, the pedestrian fatality rate for people 60 years and older is over 1.8 times the rate for those younger than 60. People 75 years and older suffer a fatality rate that is 2.16 times that of their younger neighbors. The Garden State’s older pedestrian fatality rates are higher than the national rates. Nationwide, the pedestrian fatality rate for older Americans is 1.52 times higher than the fatality rate for those under 60 years. The fatality rate for people aged 75 and older is 1.9 times that of younger Americans.
Complete Streets: Part of the Solution
In its report, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign recommending (among other things) that the state to continue prioritizing its Complete Streets policies at the county and local levels. Complete Streets policies strive to make sure that streets are designed or improved with the needs of all users – pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders, and drivers – in mind.
A full list of the current counties and municipalities in New Jersey who have adopted Complete Streets policies can be found here. Is your community on the list? If not, would you like it to be? GMTMA can help your community “complete the streets.” We can facilitate informational presentations, provide templates for policy resolutions and assist in drafting policy resolutions, help create an implementation plan, assist with identification of grant funding and documentation of policy for Sustainable Jersey certification, and more. Contact us today!