Bad Driver Behavior Blamed for Spike in NJ Pedestrian Deaths During Pandemic


Speeding, drinking and distracted driving are to blame for what is the largest-ever nationwide increase in pedestrian deaths in a single year, according to a report by the Governors Highway Safety Association.

Pedestrian fatalities rose sharply in 2020 in New Jersey and across the country during the pandemic despite far fewer cars on the road. The GHSA report shows a 9 percent increase in pedestrian deaths in New Jersey and a 4.8 percent rise nationwide.

The national pedestrian death rate rose to 2.3 deaths per billion miles driven, a 21 percent increase from 2019. There were 191 pedestrians killed by motor vehicles in New Jersey alone. The GHSA report describes the increase as “shocking and unprecedented.”

What makes these spikes in fatalities even more alarming is that they came during a year when lockdowns and working from home slashed the total number of miles driven by 13 percent for the year.

The disturbing numbers show that “we must strengthen our efforts to protect those on foot from traffic violence by implementing equitable and proven countermeasures that protect people walking and address those driving behaviors that pose the greatest risk,” said Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the GHSA.

Unsurprisingly, the study found that nighttime was the most dangerous time for pedestrians, with approximately 75 percent of pedestrian fatalities occurring after sundown. Nighttime is hazardous for pedestrians because of the reduced visibility brought on by darkness and a higher likelihood that intoxicated drivers are on the road.

Pedestrians are at high risk of death when struck by motor vehicles. Victims who are lucky enough to survive often suffer long-term debilitating injuries, such as brain injury, paralysis and organ damage. Survivors and families of pedestrians who are killed often must turn to personal injury and wrongful death lawyers to obtain compensation from the driver.

Seigel Law in Ridgewood focuses entirely on personal injury and wrongful death cases. We have handled numerous pedestrian accident claims in Passaic, Bergen, Essex and Hudson counties since 1976. If you need an attorney to stand up for you in the aftermath of an accident, please call us at 201-444-4000 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation today.

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