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Driving safely on New Jersey's roads and highways can save lives

Like elsewhere in the country, many vehicle accidents in New Jersey happen when drivers' abilities are tested by road and weather conditions, poor visibility and distracted drivers. Fortunately, most car accidents can be avoided with a little caution.

When driving on wet surfaces, drivers must be careful to avoid speeding and turning and braking suddenly. All of these can cause a vehicle to skid. Tires should be in good condition and have enough tread to make braking more effective and keep a vehicle from hydroplaning.

Snow and ice also require that drivers take a few precautions before taking to the road. Warming up the engine and cleaning ice off windows is vital. Snow, ice and heavy rain on windshields reduces visibility, so a vehicle's defrosters and wipers should be in good working order. Driving with the weather in mind is always important.

When driving at night, headlights should always be on. Speeding is never good, but it can be especially bad at night when visibility is drastically reduced. Reaction time and braking distances both need to be considered while attention is being paid to road signs, other vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and animals.

Motorists should always paid heed to cautionary signs whenever they encounter them. Signs that warn of bridges, bumps, hills, railway tracks and no-passing zones should always be respected. Similarly, extra caution is required when driving in rural farming areas because livestock can appear without warning on the road. Hitting an animal not only can kill the animal but also wreck a vehicle and injure those inside it.

Finally, driving through construction and other designated work zones requires that motorists be alert and pay close attention to warning signs. Construction road crew workers are often around roadways. Unfortunately, too many are injured or killed each year by inattentive drivers.

Source:, "The New Jersey Driver Manual," accessed on March 25, 2015

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