New Jersey drops a notch in road safety rankings

Anytime people in New Jersey are on the road, there are a number of factors at play that determine their safety: road conditions, vehicle conditions and other drivers' behaviors. Also important are the state laws in place that dictate items such as speed limits, seatbelt usage and distracted driving.

Up until recently, New Jersey placed among the safest states in the country. However, a recent report downgraded the Garden State, as NorthJersey.com reports.

A look at the report

Every year, the Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety releases the Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws. The report aims to point out where laws come up short in protecting motorists. This year, the organization starts the review by noting that in the first eight months of 2016, there was an 8 percent increase in the number of traffic deaths when compared to the same time period in 2015.

Researchers wanted to provide a look at which states are lacking the regulations that could cut down on these fatalities. They noted that nationwide, there are 376 laws that should be in place that are not.

The report assigns one of three colors to states based on the laws it has in place: green means the state is "significantly advanced" in terms of safety regulations; yellow means the state needs improvement; and red indicates the state is "dangerously behind." The AHAS gave New Jersey a yellow mark.

New Jersey's shortcomings

NorthJersey.com cites a loophole in seatbelt laws as the reason the state ranked worse this year than in previous years. Everyone must be buckled up, according to the law. However, this is enforced as a primary law for those in the front seat, and only a secondary law for people in back seats. Therefore, people who are unbuckled in the back seat may only be cited if law enforcement officers have pulled over the vehicle for other infractions.

There are several other areas of improvement the report noted, such as the following:

  • New Jersey needs a stronger nighttime driving restriction for people in the graduated driver's license program.
  • There should be a supervised driving requirement for that same program.
  • All DUI offenders should be required to take part in the ignition interlock program.

The report from AHAS noted that in 2015, 562 people were killed due to a traffic incident in New Jersey. The state could take measures to rectify the problem through creating and enforcing the laws outlined above.

When car accidents do happen, victims or their survivors may take legal action to seek damages to hold people accountable for their negligence. Anyone who has concerns about this topic should speak with a personal injury attorney in New Jersey.