NEW JERSEY – At a seaside event in Asbury Park today, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Division of Highway Traffic Safety announced the start of a statewide campaign to enhance safety on New Jersey roads during the busy summer travel season.

Members of the federal, state, county, and local law enforcement and traffic safety communities gathered on the boardwalk outside the Asbury Park Convention Hall to support the kick-off of the “101 Days of Summer” traffic safety campaign, which will run between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day.

“Ensuring the safety of New Jersey residents and visitors is our top priority and that means making sure our roadways are safe for all who use them, especially during the busy summer travel season,” said Attorney General Grewal. “New Jersey’s recreational and entertainment destinations create heavy travel demands on our roadways during the summer. We are working to ensure that New Jersey residents and visitors arrive at their destinations safely.”

The time between the Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day – known as the 101 Days of Summer – is considered to be the busiest and most dangerous travel period of the year.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the higher volume of holiday travelers, including a significantly higher number of alcohol-impaired drivers’ cause nearly twice the number of automotive deaths during the summer months than during the rest of the year combined.

In New Jersey, fatal crashes, alcohol-related crashes, and young-driver crashes all occur at higher rates between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day, according to an analysis of five-year crash statistics.

In 2017 alone, 137 motor vehicle occupants, 48 pedestrians, and 5 bicyclists lost their lives in crashes on New Jersey roadways during that period – more than a third of the total lives lost that year.

“Although New Jersey’s highways remain some of the safest in the nation, every injury and every loss of life is one too many,” said Eric Heitmann, Director of the Division of Highway Traffic Safety. “For the next three months we’ll be working with our partners in New Jersey’s law enforcement and traffic safety communities to reduce the risks associated with summer travel, prevent crashes, and save lives.”

The 101 Days of Summer traffic safety campaign features stepped up enforcement on New Jersey’s roads and highways.

In addition to regular and supplemental patrols, over the next three months, police throughout New Jersey will be conducting sobriety checkpoints, deploying “Drunk Driver Mobile Patrols”, participating in the “Click It or Ticket” national seatbelt enforcement campaign, and conducting task force partnerships and traffic safety details with other law enforcement and traffic safety agencies.

“Whether you’re behind the wheel of a car or operating a boat, everyone can help make this an enjoyable summer by practicing safe and responsible behaviors,” said Colonel Patrick Callahan of the New Jersey State Police. “In order help support this safety campaign and promote a safe driving and boating environment for all, our troopers will be on the lookout for any motorists or boaters that may create a hazard for others on our roads and waterways.”

The 101 Days of Summer are especially hazardous for teenage drivers.

In 2016, more than1,050 people were killed nationwide in crashes involving a teen driver during that period.

That is an average of 10 people per day – a 14 percent increase compared to the rest of the year, according to data analyzed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

“From prom night to beach trips, this is the time of year when teen drivers are involved in an increased number of auto accidents,” said Lamont O. Repollet, Commissioner of Education. “It’s incumbent upon parents and educators to talk with young drivers about the hazards of distractions, nighttime driving and speeding.”

To help summer travelers and tourists of all ages arrive safely to their destinations with minimal delays, the New Jersey Department of Transportation will promote the use of its 511 real-time travel information services

 “Growing up in New Jersey, I can tell you that there is nothing better than a day on the beach at the Jersey Shore or visiting one of the many state parks or points of
interest,” said Department of Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti. “Getting our residents and tourists to and from these destinations safely is always our highest priority. “

The 511nj.org website and phone systems provide valuable real-time travel information about incidents, crashes, congestion, construction, special events, and even travel times.

Traffic safety organizations from around the state joined officials at today’s event to support the summer traffic safety campaign. Members of the organizations staffed exhibits and handed out literature to educate the public on the dangers of distracted driving, promote the use of seat belts and properly installed child safety seats, remind drivers to share the road with pedestrians and bicyclists, and raise awareness of the dangers of leaving children unattended in cars.

Director Heitmann encouraged members of the public to become vital partners in the 101 Days of Summer traffic safety campaign by obeying traffic safety laws and following safe driving habits.

To help reduce the risks of crashes and other travel-related hazards this summer:

  • Make sure you and your passengers wear seatbelts for every trip. Keep children restrained in properly installed child seats.
  • Never drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Always have a designated driver available.
  • In order to maintain proper traffic flow, keep right unless passing on our multi-lane highways. Improper lane usage is a major contributing factor to unnecessary traffic congestion.
  • Obey the speed limit.
  • Avoid distractions while driving, especially texting or talking on cell phones.
  • Stay alert behind the wheel and be prepared for slowing traffic, lane shifts, and important safety signage.
  • Slow down for emergency or construction vehicles and move over to an adjacent lane if possible.
  • Prior to summer travel, check the oil, tires, and fluid levels in your car to avoid a breakdown. If you do break down, call for help immediately.
  • Don’t leave kids or dogs in a hot car. On summer days, parked cars can reach deadly temperatures in a short period of time.
  • Make sure that new drivers in your family are capable drivers and in compliance with the provisions of their graduated license. Those provisions can be found on the Division of Highway Traffic website at NJSafeRoads.com