Driving in New Jersey isn’t easy, but on 17 highways in the state in 2018, it could be downright deadly.
Those roads were ranked as the deadliest highways in the state because they had the most fatal crashes last year, according to an NJ Advance Media analysis of state Department of Transportation data. Some of them have made the list in past years, a few are new to the list.
If there is a glimmer of good news, some of these highways, that are repeat offenders, saw a drop in fatal crashes from 2017. State police reported an almost 10 percent drop in fatalities between 2018 and 2017.
Possibly the most horrific crash was the May 17, 2018 fatal collision between a school bus and a dump truck on Route 80 in Mount Olive, that killed a student and a teacher in the bus. The bus driver faces charges of vehicular homicide.
Last year New Jersey finished the year with 524 crashes that killed 563 people. That was a lower death toll than the 624 people killed in 2017, which included the highest pedestrian death rate in 24 years.
In 2018, 175 pedestrians were killed, eight fewer than 2017’s death toll. Pedestrian fatalities hit a number in 2017 that hadn’t been seen in decades when a staggering 282 pedestrians died in 1982, the highest number in recent memory.
These rankings are based on 2018 crash statistics compiled by the state Department of Transportation that were released in late September. New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway crash statistics were compiled by the State Police.
18: (tie) I-78:6 fatal crashes.
If there is good news, it’s that I-78 saw fewer traffic deaths in 2018 than it did in 2017 when 11 people were killed on the highway.
This 55-mile highway spans the state from the Delaware to the Hudson River, if you count the Hudson extension of the New Jersey Turnpike, which is also designated as I-78.
The highway has heavy traffic, hitting a high of 152,721 vehicles a day on the busiest sections of I-78 in Union and Essex Counties last year.
18: (tie) Route 23: 6 fatal crashes.
In 2018, Route 23 had six fatal crashes, one more than it did in 2017.
This 52-mile highway meanders between Essex and Sussex County to the New York-Pennsylvania border in the northwestern corner of the state.
The busiest sections of Route 23 in Morris County saw an annual daily traffic volume of 59,769 vehicles last year.
18. (tie) Route 42: 6 fatal crashes.
This 14-mile long highway between Gloucester and Camden counties connects I-76 and 295 to Route 322 and the Atlantic City Expressway. It made last year’s list of deadly highways and the number of fatal crashes remains the same as 2016.
The busiest section of Route 42 is in Deptford Township, between Route 41 and 55, with average traffic volumes of 117,631 vehicles a day.
15. (tie) Route 36: 7 fatal crashes.
This entire 28-mile highway is in Monmouth County. In 2017, Route 36, which travels along the oceanside in places, had two fatal crashes. Last year that number jumped to seven.
The busiest section, between the Garden State Parkway and Route 35 saw average traffic volumes of 54,756 vehicles last year.
15. (tie) Route 40: 7 fatal crashes.
Route 40 improved slightly in 2018, dipping below the eight fatal crashes reported by the DOT in 2017, by one collision.
This 68-mile highway that connects Salem and Atlantic Counties has the most traffic in a section near Atlantic City with an average volume of 37,651 vehicles daily.
15. (tie) I-287: 7 fatal crashes.
This busy Interstate was a little deadlier than it was in 2017, when it had five-fatal crashes. Stretching 67 miles between Middlesex County and the New York State border, I-287 is a busy truck corridor with the three most heavily traveled sections in Somerset and Middlesex counties.
The beginning of the highway in Woodbridge, where it intersects with Routes 1, 440, the NJ Turnpike and Garden State Parkway had the most traffic in 2018 with a daily volume of 117,671 vehicles.
12. Route 70: 8 fatal crashes.
Last year was a safer one on Route 70, which had 10 fatal crashes in 2017. This 69-mile long highway connects Camden County and passes through Ocean before ending in Monmouth County.
The busiest section of Route 70 was in Lakewood, with an average daily traffic volume of 33,313 vehicles.
11. (tie) Route 206: 10 fatal crashes.
Route 206 took a turn for the worse last year with seven more crashes, compared to 2017, when this long highway had three fatal crashes.
This 118-mile long highway starts in Atlantic County, passing through Burlington, Mercer, Somerset and Morris and ends in Sussex County at the Delaware River. The most heavily traveled sections of the highway are through Hillsborough and Somerville, which has an average daily traffic volume of 33,681vehicles.
11. (tie) Route 322: 10 fatal crashes.
This highway starts at the Commodore Barry Bridge in Logan Township and had 8 fatal crashes in 2017. A look at a map will tell you why. Route 322 intersects with Route 130 and I-295, which sees Philadelphia commuter traffic.
This 40-mile-long highway shoots across Gloucester County, where it becomes the busy Black Horse Pike, ending at Route 40 in Hamilton, Atlantic County. The busiest section of Route 322 is in Monroe, where traffic volume is the highest at 27,639 vehicles a day.
11. (tie) Route 27: 11 fatal crashes.
Parts of Route 27 are known as the Lincoln Highway, which was one of America’s first. It also made 2017’s list of deadly highways with 10 crashes.
The 52-mile highway goes from Mercer to Essex County, passing through numerous downtowns and business districts, that are laden with traffic lights, driveways and side streets. The busiest section of Route 27 in Rahway has an average traffic volume of 26,163 vehicles a day.
11. (tie) Route 30: 11 fatal crashes.
Route 30 is another road that made the list for 2018, but saw a slight decline in the number of fatal crashes from 13 fatal collisions in 2017. Route 30 starts at I-676 after it comes out of Philadelphia.
Stretching 60 miles across the state from Camden to Atlantic Counties, locals know it as the White Horse Pike, after it separates from Route 130 in Collingswood. The busiest section of Route 30 in Galloway Township saw an average traffic volume of 36,823 vehicles a day.
11. (tie) I-295: 11 fatal crashes.
I-295 is another road that saw a drop in deadly crashes last year from 14 reported in 2017. That reversed a trend of more deadly crashes between 2017 and 2016.
This busy South Jersey highway has a five-mile section that carries an average of 113,859 vehicles a day from Westville in Gloucester County to Lawnside in Camden County, which contains the torturous junction with I-76 and Route 42. The DOT is in the midst of the multi-year Direct Connection project to rebuild that junction of highways.
6. Route 1: 12 fatal crashes.
This highway is a repeat offender. Anyone who’s driven it, especially through Middlesex and Mercer counties knows why — traffic and traffic lights. In 2017, there were 15 fatal crashes on Route 1.
The 65-mile long highway literally spans the state from the Delaware River in Trenton to the Hudson River in Fort Lee. The busiest section of Route 1 is in Edison, with an average daily traffic volume of 72,046 vehicles.
5. I-80: 13 fatal crashes.
I-80 also saw a drop in fatal collisions in 2018 from 16 crashes recorded in 2017. This busy 68-mile long interstate bisects the northern part of the state. I-80 moves a heavy volume of traffic east-west between the Delaware and Hudson Rivers.
The highway has several sections where traffic volume hits six figures, but the highest is in a section between Woodland Park and Paterson, which saw an average traffic volume of 145,231 vehicles.
4. (tie) Route 9: 14 fatal crashes.
Route 9 finished 2018 with the same number of fatal crashes as 2017 – 14. The 126-mile long highway runs between Lower Township in Cape May and Woodbridge.
The busiest part of Route 9, between Marlboro and Old Bridge, had an average traffic volume of 65,422 vehicles last year.
4. (tie) Route 130: 14 fatal crashes
Fatal crashes on Route 130 increased by one in 2018, when compared to 13 that occurred in 2017. It continues a three-year trend of increasing fatal collisions on the highway. Eight people were killed on Route 130 in 2016.
This 80-mile long highway begins at the I-295-Route 49 junction in Pennsville in Salem County and ends at Route 1 in North Brunswick. The busiest section of Route 130 has an average traffic volume of 41,290 vehicles a day, between Collingswood, where it merges with Route 30 and Pennsauken, where the two highways split.
2. NJ Turnpike: 15 fatal crashes.
Just by its size and traffic levels, it’s not surprising that the Turnpike returns as the highway with the second most fatal crashes in the state. It is a massive 148-mile long highway, counting its two major connecting roads. The Turnpike has heavy truck traffic and is a through route for I-95 traffic.
But the death toll is significantly lower than the 21 fatal crashes that the big toll road had in 2017 and in 2016. An expert predicted a slight traffic decrease, but instead, traffic volume increased by 1% to 230 million vehicles in 2018.
1. Garden State Parkway: 22
Once again, the 173-mile Parkway led the state in fatal crashes last year as it did in 2017. But, similar to state highways in 2018, the Parkway saw a drop on fatal crashes from the 25 that occurred during 2017.
Although the Parkway is busier than the Turnpike, traffic volume dipped slightly from 2017 to finish 2018 at 389 million toll transactions, which is traffic is measured on that toll road.