Driver inattention was the top factor in fatal collisions in 2014, more than speeding and drug or alcohol impairment, according to a State Police analysis. Jersey Journal reports.
Of the 582 drivers involved in a fatal crash, driver inattention was a factor for 190 of them, and reached a five-year high in 2014. Alcohol impairment was a factor for 174 drivers and 70 drivers were deemed to be driving at an unsafe speed, the analysis said.
A total of 523 fatal crashes occurred in 2014, killing 556 people. Of those 170 were pedestrians and 11 were riding bicycles. Two less people died in crashes in 2015, though an analysis of that year’s crash data is not yet available.
It’s the fifth consecutive year that driver inattention was the leading case of fatal crashes in the Garden State.
“Driver inattention and distracted driving are interchangeable. It’s a lot of different things, didn’t see the car in front of them stop or make the lane change, that would be attributed to driver inattention,” said Sgt. Jeff Flynn, a State Police spokesman. “We look at these numbers and look for ways to lower fatal crashes and educate the public.”
Driver inattention was also the highest factor in fatal accidents involving tractor-trailers and motorcycles, the report found.
“It comes as no surprise that auto fatalities due to driver inattention are at an all-time high. Being distracted has almost become a way of life for us,” said Gary Poedubicky, Acting Director of the Division of Highway Traffic Safety. “But as these statistics show, inattentive driving can be fatal.”
Currently, the only category of distraction counted on crash reports are cell phones. State Department of Transportation statistics said that cell phone use was a factor in 3,760 crashes in 2014. The report also said the most fatalities occurred in Monmouth County with 47 deaths, followed by Ocean with 45, Atlantic with 41 and Essex with 40 fatalities in 2014.
The majority of the fatal collisions occurred on state highways, which accounted for 36 percent of the crashes, followed by 30 percent on county roads, 16 percent on municipal roads, 9 percent on toll roads and 6 percent on interstate highways, the analysis found.