Efforts Underway to Reduce Pedestrian Accidents in New Jersey

A recent study by the Washington D.C.-based advocacy group Transportation for America revealed that approximately one in five deaths in New Jersey traffic accidents were pedestrians. The group examined vehicle accident data from 2000-2009 and found that 1,514 pedestrians died in traffic accidents during that time. This means that pedestrian accidents accounted for 21 percent of total traffic accident fatalities in the state for that time period.

The study also showed that pedestrian victims of traffic accidents were more likely to be black, Hispanic, or elderly. The death rate for black pedestrians was 64 percent higher than for white pedestrians and 50 percent higher for Hispanic pedestrians than white pedestrians. Researchers theorize this is because blacks and Hispanics are more likely to depend on walking as a form of transportation than whites.

Advocacy groups have identified some of the most dangerous spots in New Jersey for pedestrians. Among the roads they listed are Burlington Pike in Burlington, White Horse and Black Horse pikes in Atlantic City and Route 35 in Perth Amboy.

Safety Measures

In December 2009, the New Jersey Department of Transportation instituted a new policy whereby the DOT builds in safety measures whenever it constructs a new road or a major renovation to an existing road or bridge. Some of the safety features that the DOT is adding are medians in the middle of roads, wider sidewalks, and bicycle lanes.

DOT officials are also inspecting some of the roads that the advocacy groups cited as being most dangerous for pedestrians to see what improvements the DOT can do to make the roads less lethal for those not in cars.

Wrongful Death Actions

Safety improvements scheduled for the future do not help people who have lost loved ones in motor vehicle accidents already, however. One option that those struggling with the loss of a relative in a pedestrian-vehicle accident have is to pursue a wrongful death suit on behalf of the decedent's estate. Family members could potentially recover damages for:

•· Lost income

•· Potential income

•· Funeral expenses

•· Loss of companionship

•· Pain and suffering

The statute of limitations on a wrongful death suit is two years, so survivors need to act within that time frame to protect their claims.

While the streets of New Jersey are becoming safer for pedestrian traffic, they still pose sizable threats to the safety of those not in cars. If you have lost a loved one in a vehicle accident, do not hesitate to contact an experienced attorney who can discuss your situation with you and explain your legal options.