Zero Fatalities: A Goal We Can All Live With

Last year 627 people died on NJ’s roadways. Want to end the carnage on our roads? Start by conducting a personal safety reality check and then get to work.

Imagine a day where no one was injured or killed on New Jersey’s roadways.  Sound impossible?  Considering that the vast majority – nearly 90 percent – of all motor vehicle crashes are the result of unsafe behavior, each of us, whether we drive a car, ride a bike or travel on foot, holds the key to making our roadways safer. 

You’ve probably witnessed conflicts between cars, buses, pedestrians, and bicyclists, and even been involved in a traffic crash here in the Garden State.  That’s not surprising when you consider how densely populated it is.  The state averages 300,000 crashes a year (that’s an astounding 822 per day) and while motor vehicle fatalities in New Jersey had fallen to historic lows, last year 627 people died on the state’s roadways -- a 12.7 increase over 2010. 

What can you do to help make your daily travels safer?  First, take a step back and assess how you behave when you’re in traffic.  If the car is your preferred mode of transportation, do you always observe the posted speed limit, refrain from driving distracted, observe all signs and signals, signal your intentions, and stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk? 

If you prefer to get around on foot (remember every motorist becomes a pedestrian once s/he steps out of her/his vehicle), do you always use crosswalks or cross at the corner, obey all traffic/pedestrian signals, and refrain from texting or getting lost in an electronic device while walking?  And not forgetting bicyclists, do you ride with the flow of traffic (under New Jersey law bicyclists are considered motor vehicles), alert motorists when you’re preparing to turn, and yield the right of way to pedestrians?

If not, it’s time for a safety reality check.  Oh I know what you’re thinking: you’re not the only offender.  True, none of us is perfect when it comes to observing the rules of the road.  But if we want others to make safety a priority (and we certainly want to be good role models for our teen drivers and their younger siblings), we have to start with ourselves.  Take stock of what you’re doing when you’re in, on or near the road and then take the necessary steps to correct the behaviors that are not only putting you, but others (maybe even your friends, co-workers and family) at risk.

Sharing the road takes a commitment on everyone’s part to not only observe the rules of the road, but look out for each other.  It’s unlikely that you set out today with the intention of being involved in a crash, but 436 people (as of Oct. 7) have died (an average of 1.55 per day) on New Jersey’s roadways so far this year and many more have been injured.  As the state and nation prepare for “Put the Brakes on Fatalities” Day, observed annually on October 10, look inward and decide what unsafe motorist, pedestrian and/or bicyclist behaviors you need to address and then get to work. 

The solution is as easy as always…

  • Buckling up every ride, no matter how short the trip (and make sure all passengers are properly restrained, too).


  • Obeying the posted speed limit, yielding the right of way and increasing your follow distance (a common cause of many motor vehicle crashes in New Jersey).


  • Using crosswalks or crossing at the corner when on foot and stopping to allow pedestrians in the crosswalk to safely cross the street.


  • Eliminating all distractions so that you’re 100% focused on driving, walking or biking and able to react. 


  • Wearing an approved helmet regardless of whether you ride a bike or motorcycle.


  • Refraining from impaired (no alcohol and/or drugs) and drowsy driving (the latter is particularly problematic for teens, young adults and people who do shift work).


While you might think zero is an impossible goal -- particularly when it comes to ending the carnage on our roads -- it’s the only acceptable one.  Consider this, if someone had to die in a motor vehicle crash today and that someone was your loved one, would that be acceptable?  Absolutely not.  Join with me in making zero crashes, injuries and fatalities your goal today and every day of the year.  It’s a goal we can all live with.   

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Hookerman October 09, 2012 at 11:51 PM
On the other hand, how many cars ignore people in cross walks? Every time I try to traverse the cross walk at the bottom of Schooley's Mountain Rd, it usually takes forever for a car to stop, even though there's a stop sign telling them to stop for people in the cross walk. Then if a car going in one direction stops, the car going the other way doesn't, and you almost get killed.
bayboat October 10, 2012 at 12:17 AM
You are seeking perfection from imperfect creatures
Pam Fischer October 10, 2012 at 01:40 PM
We all are quick to point the finger at everyone else on the road, rather than to say here's what I'm guilty of and I'll get to work. I'll be the first to admit that I can do better when it comes to adhering to the posted speed limit. Anyone else care to admit their roadway safety failings?
zizi October 10, 2012 at 06:08 PM
@Pam: Zero is not a realistic goal...... period.
Pam Fischer October 10, 2012 at 06:24 PM
So who are you willing to sacrifice is zero isn't the right goal?
zizi October 10, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Maybe you.... ;) (joking)
Jack S October 10, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Pam, zizi didn't say zero isn't the right goal, just unrealistic. As that we are imperfect creatures, perfection is unattainable in anything. While I would love to see zero fatalities, the best that we can hope for with education and setting a proper example is a reduction in incidents. After all, we are our children's best teachers.
Jon October 10, 2012 at 06:41 PM
@Hookerman, cars don't ignore people in crosswalks, DRIVERS ignore people in crosswalks.
stacie bohr October 10, 2012 at 07:53 PM
In theory, the goal sounds wonderful. But let's pretend we live a world where everyone adheres to the signs posted, traffic lights, no texting or chatting, etc. There are other factors....inclement weather, dear or critters, a child's ball rolling in to the street. We need perfect drivers under perfect conditions with no chance of anything out of the ordinary to obtain zero. Therefore, it is unrealistic. But what we can do individually is our very best to get the number as low as possible.
Hookerman October 10, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Once could argue that obeying the speed limit on major highways in NJ is more dangerous than travelling with the flow of traffic (which is generally 10-15 MPH over the posted speed limit).
zizi October 10, 2012 at 09:56 PM
@Hookerman: Pam probably is the one who travels on northern NJ turnpike at 55MPH and cause more accidents than she prevents....... Sometimes it is better to use common sense and go with the flow...... to minimize the probability of an accident....
Pam Fischer October 10, 2012 at 10:07 PM
Nope I'm the one with my cruise control set between 69 and 72. I've certainly struck a nerve with this post. Glad to get folks talking about this. Hopefully it will prompt us all to think about what we're doing when we're on the road regardless of mode.
Hookerman October 10, 2012 at 10:25 PM
Nothing about talking on your cell phone or texting while driving???
Nose Wayne October 10, 2012 at 10:41 PM
Teach what you preach Pam !!!!!!! Setting the cruise control at 69 to 72 ? Just love to hear from your kids. And your a Traffic and Safety consultant ? Nice example your setting for everyone here!!!!!! Do you NOSE what the stopping distance is for every mile an hour your over the speed limit ? Didn't think so.
Bob October 11, 2012 at 03:58 AM
Eliminating all distractions so that you’re 100% focused on driving, walking or biking and able to react. - which also happens to be the same law that covered this before we came up w/ laws forced hands free, which by the way had the unintended consequence of people texting more because they would try to hold the phone out of the view of others so as not to get a ticket.
Pam Fischer October 11, 2012 at 12:40 PM
Referenced several times in my blog.
Pam Fischer October 11, 2012 at 12:42 PM
Absolutely, as I clearly stated in this blog, we need to look in and admit our failings when it comes to traffic safety. Mine, as I noted in the discussion prompted by my blog, is speeding and I'm determined to tame it. No one is perfect, but if we start with ourselves and work to improve, we can make travel on our roadways safer.
zizi October 11, 2012 at 04:32 PM
@Pam..... amazing.... preaching before practicing.... 69~72 in a 55MPH zone...... that is 14~17MPH over the speed limit..... Oh wait... you are the one who said "So who are you willing to sacrifice is zero isn't the right goal?" Funny.... huh
Pam Fischer October 11, 2012 at 04:38 PM
I don't find any of this discussion funny -- I take it very seriously. I do practice what I preach and would be disingenuous if I didn't admit that I have work to do.
cv October 11, 2012 at 05:16 PM
most times on our highways people are doing 75-80 mph in the 65 zones with that said traveling at 69-72 is safer than 55-60 mph. the people that travel at the speed limit can cause accidents and congestion on the highways. I am not condoning speeding this is just my observation. Pam is not claiming to be little miss perfect lets give her a break.
TCG October 11, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Let me get this straight. Chatham votes almost lock-step Republican. Lower taxes and LESS regulation...do I have that right? Keep the government off my back? Government can't solve problems because government IS the problem. It's all I ever see in this space and it's all I ever hear around town. Chatham residents, almost to a person HATE the government - yet it's somehow ok for the government to force us to purchase auto insurance, tell us how fast we can drive, whether or not we can talk on the phone or text, whether or not we wish to wear a seat belt and on and on? Can someone help me out here? What business is it of the local, state or federal government what I do on the road? Let 'em stick to poking their noses into our bedrooms to make sure every pregnancy begins and ends just the way the government dictates in between fiercely defending nativity scenes and telling us how big our sodas can be. Sorry folks - can't have it both ways.
zizi October 11, 2012 at 07:31 PM
Break given...... lets hope she gives us some BREAKs too ;)
Pam Fischer October 11, 2012 at 07:36 PM
zizi -- we're all in this together. Have a good afternoon!
Hookerman October 11, 2012 at 08:12 PM
You only referenced cell phones and electronic devices directly in regards to walking. You referenced them indirectly (ie; distractions) in regards to driving.
Jon October 12, 2012 at 01:08 AM
@TCG, the purpose of the government is to keep the citizens safe from physical and financial harm. The traffic laws you referenced are directly in support of that purpose. As far as I'm concerned, that's about the only valid purpose for a government, but we have overstepped that by a long shot at this point... By the way, the gov't only mandates liability insurance. You need that so you can pay the other guy's bills when you hurt somebody else. Comprehensive and Collision are not mandatory. If you are confident in your driving abilities, you can remove Collision, and if you feel lucky with where you park your car, you can remove Comprehensive.
Nose Wayne October 12, 2012 at 01:24 AM
Pam,sounds like your ZZZZZ on this subject. STOP SPEEDING !!!!!!!!
Sam Slobo October 12, 2012 at 02:24 AM
Hookerman - you are always whining about the police and their enforcement policies. If our police department enforced these violations you speak of you would claim they are overzealous. You whine out of both sides of your mouth. Choose a side and stick to it. Do you want our municipal police department to write every cell phone, texting, stop-sign, traffic light infraction that is observed ? OK - then all the whiners will complain the police have nothing better to do. If our police DARE to write a township resident, all they hear is the same rhetoric about how the resident is " The Cops Boss ". I submit that the police should enforce ALL laws for a window of time - then maybe some eyes will open up.
Hookerman October 12, 2012 at 11:56 AM
I didn't even mention the police in my post. Where do you get the notion that I was blaming the police for anything???
lixiao November 13, 2012 at 06:41 AM
Ray Heinrich March 13, 2013 at 10:48 PM
Conscious focus on the road and on others is as it should be. Moreover, that fact is too often subverted by a working perception that is governed by subconscious pattern cognizance, present from birth, that is ordained for self preservation. It also activates muscle reactions well before contemplated (in)decision. Sadly, a Right-of-Way that is filled with roadway camouflage, signage jungles, outright concealment, optical illusions and other phenomena that graphic artists know about (and engineers do not) is often the real culprit in vehicle control. Yet a 50% crash rate reduction, achieved within weeks has been realized. Check out my site for more: http;//www.eye-cue-driver.org. Or call me at 973-593-8244. Ray


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