On Saturday, Oct. 10, New Jersey motorists are being urged to do their part to keep the roadways fatality-free as part of an annual national campaign.

Distracted driving. (Martinan, ThinkStock)
(Martinan, ThinkStock)

"Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day is a 24-hour initiative to ensure there are zero motor vehicle fatalities on that day," said Gary Poedubicky, acting Director New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety.

This is the 15th straight year New Jersey is participating in the campaign. State agencies plan to utilize variable message boards and conduct educational activities throughout the day, while many local police departments will recognize the day in their own unique ways.

"It's just a reminder to all drivers to continue to buckle up, to hang up when they're behind the wheel, and, of course, never drink and drive," Poedubicky said.

Last year, 556 people lost their lives on New Jersey roadways from motor vehicle-related crashes, which was up slightly from 2013's 542 fatalities. But, there's actually some positives to report on the issue.

"New Jersey's currently experiencing a trend of fewer motor vehicle fatalities," Poedubicky said.

In fact, there has been a 25 percent drop in deaths on the road between 2005 and 2014. Poedubicky believes there are several factors contributing to this trend.

"Increased seat belt use, strong enforcement of traffic laws, better roads, and safer vehicles on the roadway."

This year, so far, those numbers are improving. To date, 399 people have died in crashes on New Jersey roadways, which marks a 7 percent drop from the same time last year.

Still, though, pedestrian fatalities represent 30 percent of all New Jersey deaths. That stat alone underscores how vital it is to remind people about the importance of driving through campaigns like Saturday's Put the Brake on Fatalities Day.

"The more emphasis and awareness we can keep out there in the public's eye to driving safe on the roadway, we'll continue to see these numbers drop."

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