New Jersey recorded 697 fatalities across 667 fatal crashes in 2021, according to the latest annual report from the New Jersey State Police.

Both of those numbers are the highest on record since 2007.

"As COVID-19 pandemic restrictions eased, vehicle miles traveled in New Jersey increased by approximately 11.3% from the prior year," the State Police report says. "Unfortunately, the number of highway fatalities in New Jersey in 2021 increased approximately 18.7% when compared to 2020."

An average of 1.91 people were killed each day of the year in 2021, according to the State Police data. The pedestrian death toll was 217, and 26 bicyclists were killed.

And the unfortunate numbers keep rolling in. According to preliminary statistics, the number of road deaths in New Jersey reached more than 700 in 2022. The number of fatal crashes dropped slightly compared to 2021.

NJ county with the most fatal crashes

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Camden County recorded the highest number of fatal crashes in 2021 at 67. In total, 69 lives were lost, including 30 drivers, 35 pedestrians, two passengers, and two bicyclists.

Essex County experienced 60 fatal crashes, followed by Atlantic (46), Middlesex (45), and Ocean (43).

Middlesex County (60) recorded the highest number of fatal crashes in 2020.

Deadliest month and time on New Jersey roads

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By far, October ranked as the deadliest month on roads throughout New Jersey in 2021.

Over the 31 days, 80 crashes took 82 lives, according to the State Police report.

September and November each recorded 67 fatal crashes. There were 62 deadly crashes in both July and August, and 57 in December.

Only one hour of the day produced more than 50 deadly crashes across New Jersey in 2021. Fifty-five fatal accidents occurred between 9 p.m. and 9:59 p.m. The 7 p.m. hour saw 41 crashes.

Fatal crashes were more likely to occur on Saturday and Sunday.

What are the causes of NJ's deadly crashes?

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According to State Police, weather conditions were "clear" for 85% of New Jersey's fatal crashes in 2021.

Compared to 2020, alcohol-related road fatalities increased by 21% in the Garden State. In 210 of the state's 667 fatal crashes, driving while intoxicated (alcohol and/or drugs) was listed as a contributing factor.

Of the 368 drivers killed in a crash in 2021, a total of 324 were tested for alcohol. More than a third had consumed an alcohol beverage. A percentage of deceased bikers and pedestrians also tested positive for alcohol.

"Driver inattention" was a contributing circumstance in 194 fatal crashes. The report also cites "pedestrian violation" — crossing where prohibited, for example — as a contributing circumstance in 163 fatal crashes.

Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com

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