Home Events + News Zero Deaths in 7 Years, But What’s the Real Story of Traffic Injuries in Hoboken?

Zero Deaths in 7 Years, But What’s the Real Story of Traffic Injuries in Hoboken?

by Erin Lanahan
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Hoboken reached an incredible milestone in early 2024, marking seven years without a traffic-related death in the city. While drivers may be slowing down, Hoboken and Jersey City are stepping on the gas to increase safety initiatives across both cities. Read on to learn how Hoboken reached this milestone, the work still being done, and changes coming to select Hoboken + Jersey City intersections.

traffic safety hoboken jersey city

Photo Credit: City of Hoboken

About Vision Zero

Vision Zero started in 1997 in Sweden and aims at redesigning busy streets to make them safer for drivers and pedestrians. It’s a global campaign, spread to more than 40 communities across the United States, including Minneapolis, San Francisco, Baltimore, and Portland. Hoboken adopted the project in 2019 and began implementing changes to its cityscape in 2021. Jersey City also signed on in 2019.

Some of the changes already made to Hoboken + Jersey City included reducing the Hoboken-wide speed limit from 25MPH to 20MPH, renovating sidewalks and curbs, and improving bike lanes connecting both cities. In 2023, Hoboken added multi-way stops to 14 intersections, installed nine curb extensions to reduce crossing distances between streets, and restriped over 60 crosswalks to improve visibility, according to the city.

The protected bike lane connecting Hoboken + Jersey City project was completed in 2022 and connects Observer Highway in Hoboken to 18th Street in Jersey City. On top of providing a safer lane for bikers to enjoy, it also encourages residents to ditch their cars and opt for a bike ride instead.

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A major element of Vision Zero is the premise that human behavior is not perfect and both drivers and pedestrians will make mistakes. However, by redesigning the shared transit network, when these mistakes happen, the system will be more forgiving. While both cities have shown promise in this system, the dozens of traffic injuries reported throughout the past few years show more work still has to be done to reach the goal of zero injuries and deaths throughout Hoboken + Jersey City.

Read More: Redesign of Coles Street Underpass in Jersey City to Begin in April

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A Seven-Year Streak in Hoboken

The last traffic-related death was reported in Hoboken in 2017. “While deliberate action on everything from restriping high visibility crosswalks to implementing comprehensive road redesigns has aided our success, we aren’t stopping,” said Mayor Bhalla in a March 2024 press release. “We will continue to aggressively implement Vision Zero in every aspect of our major infrastructure projects.”

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Bike Hoboken (@bikehoboken)

In 2022, Jersey City achieved the goal of zero traffic-related deaths. However, the city reported that 12 people died due to crashes on all roads throughout Jersey City in 2023. For instance, in October 2023, three people died and three more were injured after two cars collided on Congress Street, according to the Hudson County Prosecutors Office.

Statistics Tell the Story

Both cities offer reports to the public about their respective Vision Zero efforts: Hoboken’s is here and Jersey City’s is here. A data point that The Hoboken Girl was especially interested in exploring was the difference between death, a serious injury, and a minor injury. It’s easy to applaud a statistic like ‘no fatalities’, but it doesn’t answer for the dozens of stories Team HG has heard over the years of people being harmed by cars and bicyclists.

Hoboken Vision Zero - graph^ Hoboken Vision Zero Report

As grim as it may be, understanding what happens to community members in non-fatal incidents is an important element of the conversation around Vision Zero. The data even shows it: bicyclists and pedestrians are involved in 8% of all crashes in Hoboken, but 40% of those instances result in serious injury or death. But what does that mean in practical terms?

NYC-based transportation safety advocacy group Transportation Alternatives has asked the same question of the NYC Vision Zero statistics. In a December 2023 report, TransAlt shared that for every NYC traffic fatality, there are 11 more serious injuries. New York City is required to track serious injuries, the definition for which exists in New York state law. The tracking portal, the Serious Injury Response, Tracking + Analysis Program (SIRTA), is publicly available.

In New York, a serious injury includes: includes any traffic crash-related injuries resulting in dismemberment, significant disfigurement, bone fracture, the loss of a fetus, as well as the permanent loss of use of a body part, organ, or function, the significant limitation of a body function, and any injury which prevents a person from performing most of their customary daily activities for 90 days or more.

No such accident database exists in either Hoboken or Jersey City, but the Hoboken Police Department was able to provide HG with its own definitions of crash-related injuries:

A suspected serious injury is if the victim has a serious non-fatal injury, including:

  • Severe laceration resulting in exposure of underlying tissues/muscle/organs or resulting in significant loss of blood
  • Broken or distorted extremity (arm or leg)
  • Crush injuries
  • Suspected skull, chest, or abdominal injury other than bruises or minor lacerations
  • Significant burns (second- and third-degree burns over 10% or more of the body)
  • Unconsciousness when taken from the crash scene
  • Paralysis

A suspected minor injury is if there is an evident injury, other than fatal and serious injuries, including:

  • A lump on the head
  • Abrasions
  • Bruises
  • Minor lacerations (cuts on the skin surface with minimal bleeding + no exposure of deeper tissue/muscle)

A possible injury is a reported or claim of injury that is not fatal, serious, or minor. Possible injuries are those that are reported by the person or are indicated by his/her behavior, but no wounds or injuries are readily evident. Examples include:

  • Claim of injury
  • Limping
  • Complaint of pain

We tried researching the number of minor injuries from car-pedestrian-related crashes in Hoboken in past years, but that information does not exist. Marci Rubin, Hoboken Public Safety Department’s Senior Public Information Assistant, shared with HG that HPD does not categorize crashes outside of those considered serious, so there are no current stats available for crashes that involved just minor injuries. She also shared that most crashes in Hoboken don’t involve any injuries, and many go unreported to the police department.

“The Hoboken Police Department does not currently have the data to separate or categorize crashes by mode of transportation. The total number of crashes reflects ALL crashes that involved a moving vehicle,” she said.

The Federal Highway Administration defines a serious injury as:

  • Severe laceration resulting in exposure of underlying tissues/muscle/organs or resulting in significant loss of blood
  • Broken or distorted extremity (arm or leg)
  • Crush injuries
  • Suspected skull, chest, or abdominal injury other than bruises or minor lacerations
  • Significant burns (second and third-degree burns over 10% or more of the body)
  • Unconsciousness when taken from the crash scene
  • Paralysis

The State of New Jersey Police has a standard form for reporting crashes. The manual for filling this out had the following information to define a serious injury:

  • Severe laceration resulting in exposure of underlying tissues/muscle/organs or resulting in significant loss of blood or broken or distorted extremity (arm or leg)
  • Crush injuries
  • Suspected skull, chest, or abdominal injury other than bruises or minor lacerations
  • Significant burns (second and third-degree burns over 10% or more of the body)
  • Unconsciousness when taken from the crash scene
  • Paralysis

New Jersey residents also have the option to self-report an incident. That form has no information on defining the severity of the incident.

 

 

Looking Ahead

While marking seven years without a traffic death is a great achievement for Hoboken, there is still work to be done to reach its goal of eliminating traffic deaths and injuries by 2030. Marci Rubin, Hoboken Public Safety Department’s Senior Public Information Assistant, shared with HG that from 2019 to 2020, the number of serious injuries reported fell from eight to three. The number jumped to five serious injuries in 2021, then jumped again to 13 serious injuries in 2022, then fell to five injuries in 2023. These numbers reflect all road users in crashes that involved a motor vehicle in transport, including pedestrians, bicyclists, and people inside vehicles (drivers and passengers). These crashes happened in several areas of Hoboken, but most often on Willow Avenue and 14th Street, according to data from Vision Zero.

The City also provided the total number of crashes reported to police in the same years, which includes the total number of crashes involving a motor vehicle in transport (a moving vehicle), and includes crashes with all levels of injury, or no injuries involved:

  • 2019: 1,542
  • 2020: 1,094
  • 2021: 1,364
  • 2022: 1,468
  • 2023: 1,399

In Jersey City, 29 serious injuries were reported in 2023, up from 10 in 2022. Jersey City considers any crash reported to the Regional Fatal Collision Unit that did not result in death a serious injury. HG reached out to the Jersey City Public Safety Department for more details on these numbers and are waiting to hear back.

Still, Hoboken continues to push forward by introducing new safety tools, such as increasing multi-way stops, increasing crosswalk visibility, and extending curbs. The goal is to better protect those walking around and biking through Hoboken. More details about these safety tools can be found online.

Proposed Changes to Traffic Signals In Hoboken + Jersey City

Hudson County, Jersey City, and Hoboken have proposed updating 60 traffic signals throughout the area During a town hall on Thursday, March 7th, officials shared the plan to upgrade signals along nearly three miles of JFK Boulevard in Jersey City and a collection of signals in Southwest Hoboken.

The upgrades would be technology-based, allowing city and county workers to remotely monitor and control the signals from their offices. The current signals don’t adapt to traffic and cannot automatically detect pedestrians waiting to cross the street. The new signals would be able to handle the ebb and flow of traffic throughout the day, aiming to relieve congestion.
Hudson County Traffic Lights Project 2024

^ Map of to-be-upgraded intersections via the Hudson County/Hoboken Advanced Traffic Signal Project.

Plus, the new technology would increase the time people have to cross the street, aiming to increase pedestrian safety. This plan does not involve changes to the number of lanes on these roads, parking spots, or public transit stops. This project is still in the development stage and likely won’t start construction until 2026.

See More: Proposal Approved to Reduce Speed Limits in Montclair: What to Know

No More Right on Red in Parts of Jersey City

As of March 5th, 2024, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop announced the city will be changing several intersections to “No Right On Red” zones. These intersections are located near schools and parks in The Heights, and the mayor says they plan to continue moving south as the plan unfolds.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Steven Fulop (@stevenfulopjc)

Jersey City aims to expand this project’s reach outside of Journal Square and Downtown areas to Greenville and The Heights later this year.

Several citizen advocacy groups exist in Hudson County with the goal of increasing roadway safety.

Stay in the know with all of the local happenings by following @thehobokengirl on Instagram and TikTok, and sign up for our weekly newsletter here.

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