Last year 220 pedestrians were killed on New Jersey roadways, along with 23 cyclists, 373 drivers, and 84 passengers, according to New Jersey State Police data. (Steve Davis/Smart Growth America)
Walking in New Jersey is getting deadlier.
A new report ranks the Garden State as the 19th deadliest state in the nation for pedestrians in 2020. And with 220 pedestrians killed, last year was the deadliest since 1989, according to State Police data. Another 23 cyclists, 373 drivers, and 84 passengers were also killed on New Jersey roadways last year.
The alarming figures from 2020 came as more people took walks during the pandemic, even though driving decreased, according to the annual report from Smart Growth America, a nonprofit advocacy group.
Pedestrian fatalities are expected to break records again in 2021, the report states. The federal data for 2021 has not been released.
Peter Kasabach, executive director of planning group New Jersey Future, said in a statement reducing car trips and designing safer roadways will save lives.
“Fostering safer street design will encourage people to consider multi-modal and low-emission transportation options by making walking, biking, and scooter trips more inviting to New Jerseyans,” Kasabach said.
The continuing rise in deaths is prompting two Middlesex County lawmakers to push for a Vision Zero task force to study traffic safety, with a focus on access, equity, and mobility for all road users — drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians — and a goal to reach zero traffic fatalities and injuries.
Sen. Pat Diegnan and Assembly Robert Karabinchak, both Democrats, said in a joint statement that, with New Jersey being one of the most densely populated states and among one of the most traveled, “reducing crashes must be a top priority” for residents and visitors.
Their bill would create a 21-member task force to advise the governor, Legislature, and state transportation officials on how to minimize traffic deaths, with a goal of zero by 2035.
At least two New Jersey towns have local Vision Zero policies. Hoboken officials say they have gone four years without a pedestrian fatality, which U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg cited in a proposal to reduce road deaths nationally. In Jersey City, the first New Jersey town to adopt the strategy, traffic fatalities are down 40% compared to 2021, Mayor Steve Fulop said on Twitter.
As of July 12, there have been 340 fatal crashes in New Jersey, according to the State Police. At this time last year, 292 fatal crashes were reported.
The Vision Zero program has been implemented in New York City, Seattle, Boston, Washington D.C., and across European counties.
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