How Many Car Accidents Happen in New Jersey?
In 2018 278,413 car accidents were reported in New Jersey and 524 of those ended with fatalities. That equates to an average of every 1.8 minutes or every 108 seconds a car crash happens in New Jersey alone. And even more tragically, every day nearly 2 people pass away due to injuries from a car accident.
Where do Most Car Accidents Happen in NJ?
With these tragic statistics you can’t help but wonder, “where do most of these car accidents happen?” The New Jersey Department of Transportation reports most car crashes occur in the following locations:
- Parking Lots
- Two-Lane Roads
- Major Highways
Additional according to the New Jersey Department of Transportation they reported in 2018 the following counties have the most car accidents, in order from most to least:
- Essex (30,078)
- Bergen (29,459)
- Middlesex (28,965)
- Union (20,377)
- Hudson (19,627)
Car Accidents in Parking Lots
There are not statistics to back up all parking lot collisions as frequently drivers will choose not to report the collision to the authorities. Despite not having hard data to back the numbers we know parking lots are the scene for many collisions! It is speculated nearly 20% of all car crashes happen in parking lots. Although most of those occur when a vehicle is backing out of a parking space, low-speed collisions also take place when one car turns in front of another. Low-speed fender benders are rarely serious, but they can be aggravating, time-consuming and costly.
Avoiding Parking Lot Collisions
One of the best ways to avoid an accident is to slow down. Parking lots have multiple obstacles, from crater-sized potholes and light poles to vehicles cutting across empty rows and speed bumps. By reducing your speed, you can give yourself the time you need to react appropriately and avoid a collision.
It may be tempting to find a spot closest to the store or office, but that location also increases the chances of your car sustaining damage. Other drivers also want to be closer to their destination. Your parked vehicle may get door dings, a dented bumper or scratches due to someone else’s carelessness. Reduce the potential for damage by parking several spaces away from the entrance and from the bulk of the traffic. When backing out of a parking spot, take your time. Look around and be mindful of runaway shopping carts, small children and vehicles moving too fast.
Car Accidents at Intersections
Stop signs and traffic lights not only control intersection traffic but help ensure cars move slower in high pedestrian areas such as a downtown district, subdivision or neighborhood. Almost 50% of all traffic accidents happen at intersections. There are several reasons collisions occur when at least two roads cross.
Drivers are used to watching the road for vehicles. However, there can also be pedestrians, bicycles and leashed pets at an intersection. Cars may be turning left across multiple travel lanes, moving straight or making a right turn on red. Keeping an eye out for everything that’s going on at an intersection is challenging. More than 90% of accidents that occur at intersections are the result of driver error.
Avoiding Intersection Collisions
Avoid intersection accidents by following vehicles at a greater distance than usual. This gives you more braking time if the car in front of you stops unexpectedly. Anticipate other drivers by slowing slightly and paying particular attention to vehicles coming from different directions. Broadside, also called T-bone accidents, often occur in intersections when one car collides with the side of another.
Keep distractions to a minimum so that you can focus on the road. Put your phone away, turn down the music and request that passengers remain calm if not quiet during the drive. Going through a yellow light at high speeds is a dangerous habit. Slowing slightly as you go through a yellow can allow you to see other drivers who might be jumping the light and help avoid a collision.
Accidents on Rural Two-Lane Roads
With one travel lane of traffic going in each direction and small to nonexistent shoulders, it’s not surprising that a significant number of accidents happen on rural roads. A driver may stray into the next lane during a distracted moment or due to road conditions, causing a head-on collision with deadly consequences. If you drive this type of road frequently, you may relax and let your attention wander. It’s also not unusual for traffic to be moving faster than the posted limit if few cars are on the road. When these two circumstances happen at the same time, a collision often occurs.
Avoiding Rural Road Collisions
Even a quick swerve can result in a car crash on narrow roads. Turn off your phone’s ringer and notifications, and if you need to get something from the glove box or help your child, pull over. Keep your headlights on, regardless of whether it’s day or night. This can help ensure you are as visible as possible to oncoming traffic.
Accidents on Major Interstates
Defensive Driving Tips
Although parking lots, intersections and rural roads are among the most common car accident locations, a crash can happen anywhere. Here are other defensive driving tips that can help minimize the chances of having an accident, wherever you need to go.
Getting behind the wheel is something many people do automatically. It’s easy to go to the store or work without paying strict attention to the road. Most accidents happen close to home during a routine commute. Focus on driving by sitting up straight, keeping both hands on the wheel and concentrating on the road conditions as well as the vehicles around you.
Scan the Road
Keep an eye on your immediate surroundings and scan the road ahead. Note whether there is a construction zone, curve, intersection or hill up ahead. Use the side and rearview mirrors to check for possible hazards behind you. If you notice a risk, such as part of a tire or debris in the road, form a plan that can help you avoid it. An example of a defensive move is safely changing lanes before reaching the obstacle.
Keep a Safe Distance
Follow the vehicle ahead with at least three seconds of driving time between you. A simple way to do this is to locate a fixed object near the road, such as a light pole, road sign or overpass. Count to three after the car ahead of you passes the sign or pole. If you pass the object before three seconds is up, slow down slightly.
When traveling on a multilane road, drive in the center of your lane and try to stay out of other vehicles’ blind spots. Watch for cars that tailgate you. Change lanes if it’s safe, lightly tapping the brake pedal. This warns other vehicles that you are slowing and letting them pass.
While you cannot account for other drivers’ unpredictable actions and the effects of weather on the road, you can take steps that mitigate risk and help you reach your destination safely.
If you are involved in a car crash we have provided 10 steps to take after a car accident to best help protect yourself!
Chris Costello, ESQ.
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