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Accident fatalities fell in 2015 but bicyclists still face danger

The downward trend of fatal accidents on New Jersey roads continued in 2015. According to NJ.com, there was a three percent decrease in fatal crashes compared to 2014. This decrease continues a 15 year decline. 2015 saw 541 deaths stemming from 501 separate crashes, while 2014 saw 556 deaths resulting from 523 accidents.

The New Jersey State Police credits efforts to reduce crashes along the I-95 corridor and an increased awareness of distracted driving as factors contributing to the reduction in fatalities. The NJSP also focused its efforts on cracking down on seat belt violators, cell phone users, commercial vehicles and aggressive drivers.

There also appears to be good news when it comes to motorcycle deaths, which fell to 49 for 2015, as well as pedestrian deaths, which fell to 163, as reported by NorthJersey.com. However, when it comes to bicyclist fatalities, the numbers leave a lot of room for improvement. As overall traffic deaths decline, cycling deaths numbered 18 last year, the highest since 2008. That represents a 64 increase from the prior year.

Hoping to curtail those numbers, legislation has been sent to Governor Christie that focuses on preventing these types of accidents. The legislation proposes to create a commission whose job it would be to develop strategies for designing better roads and implementing more bicycle and pedestrian-friendly policies. While the bill is a step in the right direction, others think New Jersey should look to the example set by New York City's "Vision Zero" initiative, which aims to eliminate pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities entirely by a specific deadline. However, no New Jersey towns or legislators have made steps toward adopting such a plan.

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