New Jersey Saw Fewer Car Accident Fatalities During the COVID-19 Pandemic
While the coronavirus crisis and the resulting business closures and stay-at-home orders across the country have had a plethora of negative effects on the economy and society, there is one undeniably positive side to the pandemic: There have been fewer car crashes and fatalities on our roads.
According to New Jersey’s State Police fatality statistics, there have been fewer fatal vehicle crashes this year compared to the same period in 2019. According to Wired citing Arity’s national data, New Jersey also reported a drop of over 60% in vehicle miles traveled.
COVID-19: New Jersey Sees Fewer Traffic Deaths and Fatal Crashes
Statewide, traffic fatalities and fatal accidents were down from January to May 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. During this period, traffic deaths fell by nearly 14%, from 165 to 145 compared to 2019. Also, fatal crashes dropped from 152 to 138 as of May 4.
Tracy Noble, AAA MidAtlantic spokeswoman, told NJ.com that New Jersey’s stay-at-home order “is no doubt having a positive impact on crashes,” but reminded that drivers still need to obey traffic laws and drive below the speed limit when they leave their homes during the pandemic.
The reduction in traffic fatalities in New Jersey reflects preliminary estimates by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The latest Traffic Safety Facts by the NHTSA, published in May 2020, shows that car accident deaths dropped nationally by 1.2% in 2019 compared to 2018.
Fewer Drunk Drivers but More Speeding During the Pandemic
Interestingly, the downward trend of deaths across the states in 2019 came despite the fact that motorists traveled more miles last year. The NHTSA’s data shows that motorists traveled about 28.8 billion miles more in 2019 compared to 2018.
In 2019, New Jersey had 560 deaths that occurred in 525 traffic accidents, which is slightly less than in 2018 (563 deaths) and considerably less than in 2017 (624). However, reports from other states indicate that more motorists have been speeding during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As reported by the Herald-Tribune in April 2020, more Floridian motorists were driving at a higher speed on roads and highways left open by the shutdown. Meanwhile, Florida saw fewer drunk drivers due to the state’s mandatory order to close all bars and restaurants in the Sunshine State.
However, this did not stop a New Jersey driver from being charged with DWI and violating Gov. Phil Murphy’s stay-at-home order in May 2020. As reported by The Press of Atlantic City, a Millville man was charged with DWI, disobeying a lawful order, violating New Jersey’s executive order, and refusing to cooperate with a person authorized by the state’s emergency act.
Does Coronavirus Affect New Jersey’s Statute of Limitations?
New Jersey’s statute of limitations for those who wish to pursue a personal injury claim after an accident is two years. However, the COVID-19 pandemic affected many residents’ ability to file a claim within the state’s deadline. In light of this, the Chief Justice relaxed the court rules pertaining to court filings and extended the statute of limitations.
Under the Omnibus Order on March 27, 2020, the period between March 17 and April 26 is deemed a legal holiday for purposes of determining time periods “under the Rules of Court and under any statute of limitations.”
Speak with our Morristown car accident attorneys if you need help with filing a personal injury claim during or after the coronavirus pandemic. Contact The Law Offices of Michael P. Burakoff, P.A., for a case evaluation. Call at 973-455-1567.