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Office of Public Information (609) 882-2000
Capt. Gerald Lewis - ext. 6516
SFC Stephen Jones - ext. 6513
Sgt. Julian Castellanos - ext. 6515
Det Brian Polite - ext. 6514

September 03, 2009

State Police Look to Slow Pace of Fatalities
Labor Day Enforcement Will Focus on Prevention of Accidents

West Trenton, N.J. – There have been 403 motor vehicle fatalities so far this year. That’s 14 more than the same time last year. These statistics show that New Jersey drivers must continue to focus on driving safely, especially during the holiday weekend. Traffic increases on New Jersey highways during the Labor Day weekend more than any other time during the year. That alone increases the risk of being involved in an accident.

“The increase in the number of fatal accidents shows that New Jersey motorists are not taking the steps necessary to travel safely throughout the state,” said New Jersey State Police Superintendent Rick Fuentes.  “There is no other activity in which people make life or death decisions on such a regular basis.”  The Superintendent explained that these life and death decisions include traveling at excessive speeds, aggressive driving, driving while distracted or tired and, of course, driving while intoxicated.  Colonel Fuentes has tasked troopers to continue concentrating on these behaviors since they often contribute to fatal accidents.  Additionally, law enforcement will be looking for people who refuse to adhere to the seat belt laws.
This year’s national DWI program, entitled “Drunk Driving:  Over the Limit. Under Arrest,” will be vigorously supported by officers throughout the Garden State.  The crackdown is a comprehensive prevention effort focused on conducting highly visible law enforcement related efforts to deter impaired driving.

“We support the New Jersey State Police in their efforts to reduce drunken driving fatalities and injuries. High visibility enforcement remains the cornerstone in the efforts to ensure that the motoring public drives safely during the holiday weekend,” said State Executive Director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving Mindy Lazar.

Another contributing factor to accidents is fatigue.  Many travelers try to squeeze every last minute out of the long Labor Day weekend, and end up driving while exhausted.  To help eliminate fatigue, know your route of travel and make frequent stops.

Inattentive driving is perhaps the single most common factor leading to motor vehicle crashes.  Much attention has been given to mobile phone usage, but other common distractions include mobile handheld computers, map reading, sound system adjustments, built-in video/game monitors and dealing with children in the back seat.

Motorists should also be aware of the recent increase in pedestrian involved fatalities. There have been 31 more pedestrian fatalities in 2009 as compared to this same period last year. Pedestrians and drivers have to have a mutual respect for each other to avoid accidents.  If your vehicle should become disabled, pull to a safe location, stay in your vehicle and await assistance.  Only cross busy roadways at areas designated for that purpose.

The 2009 Labor Day Holiday officially begins at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, September 4th and continues through 5:59 a.m., Tuesday, September 8th.  During the previous Labor Day holiday, 6 persons lost their lives in accidents on New Jersey roadways.  Superintendent Fuentes hopes that the public will continue to do their part to reduce traffic fatalities.

In addition to increased land-based safety responsibilities, personnel assigned to the State Police Marine Bureau will be patrolling all the waterways throughout the summer boating season.  Enforcement activities will focus on boaters drinking alcohol and persons recklessly operating personal watercraft (jet skis) and other powered vessels.  Marine troopers will also be checking to see that boat operators have obtained the proper licenses to operate watercraft.  A good synopsis of boating requirements can be found on the State Police website at under boating safety.

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