Impairment a key factor in the rise in wrong-way driver deaths in NJ
Fatal wrong-way crashes have been a persistent and devastating threat and it's getting worse. The latest data analysis from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found there were more than 2,000 deaths from wrong-way crashes between 2015 and 2018.
New Jersey was no exception. There were 28 deaths from wrong-way driving crashes on divided highways between 2015 and 2018 in New Jersey. That equated to about seven deaths per year, which is up from the five deaths annually from 2010 to 2014. So far this year, the state has counted four deaths from wrong-way crashes.
Earlier this year, a wrong-way crash left two dead and three injured in Camden County. In January, a wrong-way crash claimed two lives on the Garden State Parkway in Barnegat.
AAA Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman Tracy Noble said while New Jersey does a good job of signing on all ramps with wrong-way signs, these crashes are still happening. Researchers found that the odds of being a wrong-way driver increased with alcohol-impairment, older age and driving without passengers who could be an extra set of eyes, she said.
Rob Molloy, director of the Office of Highway Safety, said that alcohol impairment is by far the single-most important factor in the majority of wrong-way driving crashes, which has not changed since the National Transportation Safety Board issued its Wrong-Way Driving special investigation report in 2012.
In light of these latest research findings, AAA and the NTSB are teaming up to come up with a list of suggestions to avoid wrong-way crashes and some countermeasures, which include alcohol ignition interlocks (a law that does exist in New Jersey), deterrence strategies like sobriety checkpoints, driver refresher courses for older adults and the installation of more visible signs and roadway markings.