Spring has arrived in New Jersey and this is a common time of year for many people to get outside and be more active. Those who may have joined gyms as part of their New Year’s resolutions may find that walking or jogging outside can be a great complement to their exercise and health routines. Certainly, these activities can be good for a person’s health and wellness but there are risks that people should be aware of as well.
One of the big risks that walkers, joggers or runners face is being hit by a car or other motor vehicle. In fact, pedestrian deaths in New Jersey spiked in 2017 to its highest level in at least a decade according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That year, a total of 183 pedestrians lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents. That year saw 20 more such deaths than the prior year when 163 people died, down from 170 in 2015.
Despite many advances in vehicle safety, too many drivers continue to make reckless and selfish choices when behind the wheel. Drunk driving, distracted driving and speeding are just some examples of factors that contribute to many fatal or serious accidents every year.
PedBikeInfo.org indicates that this reality makes it essential for pedestrians to make sure they are visible even during daylight hours. Wearing bright or reflective gear is always recommended. Crossing in designated crosswalks and making eye contact with drivers before stepping into a street or crosswalk may also help keep people on foot safe.
A community is in shock, and high school students are receiving emergency grief counseling, after a head-on collision that claimed the lives of two teenagers in Ringwood, New Jersey. The two teenage boys lived in nearby Wanaque, where they formerly attended the regional high school and were still known to the students there. The driver was 19 and his passenger was 17. Authorities pronounced each dead at the scene.
The accident occurred last Wednesday afternoon on the Greenwood Lake Turnpike. The section of road where the collision took place is relatively straight and sees few accidents despite the turnpike’s reputation for curves. For reasons that are still unclear, the 19-year-old driver of the southbound vehicle clipped a guardrail after veering onto the shoulder. The vehicle then spun into the opposite lane, where a van driving in the other direction hit the vehicle head-on. Responders transported the sole occupant of the van, a 64-year-old man, to a hospital in Paterson, New Jersey, for treatment of minor injuries. The current condition of the van driver is unknown.
Students at the school the two teenagers had previously attended left flowers and messages written on large rocks in the woods nearby to create a makeshift memorial. According to the driver’s father, his 20th birthday was only two weeks away at the time of his death.
A car accident that results in death or serious injury can mean the loss of enormous potential. Those who have experienced such a loss may wish to discuss the case with an attorney.
Millions of people across the country are guilty of using their cellphones while navigating the busy roadways. Sadly, approximately 391,000 people were injured and 3,450 were killed in catastrophic car accidents in the United States during a one-year period. As a result, many states, including New Jersey, prohibit the use of hand-held cellphones while driving. Some drivers have started using hands free cellphones as a way to use their cellular devices while staying in compliance with the law. Studies show, however, that even hands-free cellphones pose a risk to drivers and other people who are sharing the road.
A study published by AAA found that hands free cellphones still generate a significant amount of cognitive distraction, which could lead to car accidents. Researchers asked participants to engage in several distractive tasks while operating a simulator vehicle, as well as an actual vehicle equipped with monitoring devices. The tasks included:
- Talking to a passenger in the vehicle
- Maintaining a conversation using a hand-held cellphone
- Using a hands-free cellular device
- Listening to the radio
- Listening to an audio book
- Composing an email using voice activated technology
While completing the tasks, researchers measured each driver’s heart rate, eye movement, brain activity and response time. The results showed that using a hand-held cellphone was only slightly less distracting that using the hands-free device.
Cognitive distraction occurs when the brain is preoccupied with another task and, as a result, is unable to focus on the primary task. Rather than focus on two activities at once, the brain skips back and forth between them. This leaves moments in time where the brain is not focused on driving at all and puts everyone at risk of suffering from a car accident.