Officials Urge Caution Ahead of Expected Heavy July 4 Traffic - NBC New York

Officials Urge Caution Ahead of Expected Heavy July 4 Traffic

Traffic fatalities are down to 262 from 291 at the same time last year, a 10 percent decrease

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    Officials Urge Caution Ahead of Expected Heavy July 4 Traffic

    The number of traffic fatalities on New Jersey roads has dropped for the first half of 2012, officials said Monday.

    Traffic deaths are down to 262 from 291 at the same time last year, a 10 percent drop, according to officials, as they warned motorists to stay safe during the upcoming July 4 holiday.

    “We are encouraged by the decline in traffic-related fatalities thus far,” said Division of Highway Traffic Safety Acting Director Gary Poedubicky in a release.  “But the only way to keep these numbers heading in the right direction during this upcoming holiday week is for our motorists to practice safe driving habits: obey the speed limits, always wear your seat belt and never drive distracted or drink and drive.”

    Last year nine people died in crashes on New Jersey's roads during the five-day July 4 holiday period, Poedubicky said.

    This July 4 holiday period 1.1 million New Jerseyans are expected to drive more than 50 miles for their vacations, an increase of 3.2 percent from 2011, according to the Automobile Association of America.

    “We have seen gas prices decline for 10 weeks and the price per gallon is down about 60 cents from last year,” said Tracy Noble, a spokesperson for association's mid-Atlantic region. “People are now starting to get back into gear with traveling.”

    To help keep drivers safe over the holiday and throughout the summer, the Division of Highway Traffic Safety and the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control have partnered with the HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers, a non-profit initiative that works with alcohol serving establishments, enlisting them to serve free soft drinks to designated drivers.

    This year the campaign has registered nearly 200 bars, taverns and restaurants to participate.

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