The number of pedestrians killed by cars in New Jersey spiked in 2014, throwing 2013’s record low figure into reverse.
As of Wednesday morning, State Police reported 563 people were killed in traffic accidents in 2014, 21 more than the year before, when overall fatalities reached their lowest point since the agency began keeping records in the 1940s.
Of the 563 people killed on New Jersey roads, 169 were pedestrians, half were older than 50, while seven were under 16, and 33 were between 17 and 29.
At the same time, fewer drivers, passengers and bicyclists were killed on the road. The majority of fatalities, 301, were drivers, 80 were passengers and 13 were bicyclists.
The number of fatal crashes also increased from 508 in 2013 to 530 in 2014.
The traffic death toll has oscillated from year to year — dipping as low as 542 in 2013 and climbing to as much as 627 in 2011 — but has been trending downward for two decades.
“Some years it’s going to be a little higher than others,” State Police Spokeswoman Trooper Alina Spies said. “We hope the larger trend continues to be a downward slope. But that depends on our drivers out there.”
That decline — down from 1,160 in 1981, the high point of the past three decades — can be attributed to increased safety features and safety campaigns urging drivers to make good decisions, Spies said.
Fatalities spike during legal holidays. Five people were killed over Thanksgiving weekend, and there were nine fatalities over the last weekend in December.
These statistics are preliminary and could change if people involved in 2013 accidents die during the new year.
Later this year the agency will release a more detailed analysis of the accidents — for instance how many involved speeding, distracted driving or drinking.
A State Police report on the 504 crashes in 2013 in which 542 people were killed found driver inattention was a top factor in 164 deadly crashes, alcohol was a factor in 143, and speed was a factor in 82.