SOUTH AMBOY, N.J. (CBSNewYork)New Jersey State Police data shows the number of fatal car accidents is up from last year and before the pandemic.

CBS2’s Meg Baker talked to some people Thursday to find out why.

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“The roads have been packed. We all have cabin fever,” said Andrew Cohen, who was traveling from Westchester County.

Summer is normally a busy time for travel, but this year more than ever drivers say they are feeling the traffic crunch.

“I think everybody is just so anxious to get out of their house, go to the beach, go see friends. They’re not paying attention as much,” Cohen said.

“Texting and all of the nonsense doesn’t help,” added Marisa Rocha of Floral Park, New Jersey.

State police data shows 309 fatal accidents in 2021 so far. Preliminary data from 2020 shows there were 268. Prior to the pandemic, in 2019, there were 266. All of that shows it didn’t matter that there were fewer people on the road in 2020. Some still drove recklessly.

Sgt. Alejandro Goez with the state police urges drivers to slow down and remove distractions.

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“You can’t put an exact definition to why the numbers are the way they are. They can vary from year to year. The biggest thing, again, that contributes to this are driver inattention,” Goez said.

Police say summer is normally the deadliest time period on the roads.

“In addition to the regular patrol that we have, we have programs that target DWI, aggressive drivers, but at any given time we’ll have extra patrols that are out there to make sure they enforce and educate the public,” Goez said.

Most of the travelers Baker spoke with said they left extra time to reach their destination so they won’t be rushing.

“I’m always very careful. I just took the AARP safety course,” said Susan Kline of Long Island.

Sgt. Goez reminds drivers to put the phone down, focus and wear your seat belt. It increases the chances of survival if you are in a bad crash.

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Preliminary numbers also show pedestrian deaths have increased by about 10% from 2019.

Carolyn Gusoff