Though the number of fatal car accidents in New Jersey is still unacceptably high, some progress has been made in reducing the total so far this year, according to a new report from the State Police.

The 2012 total of 426 fatalities is down 4.9 percent from last year's 448 for the same time period in 2011, a report from the State Police Fatal Accident Investigation Unit says.

The unit compiles traffic fatality data from across the state, including from accidents that were investigated solely by local police agencies.

The report indicates that about half of the fatalities in the accidents are drivers of vehicles. About one-sixth of those killed are passengers and slightly less than one-fourth are pedestrians.

The age group with the highest number of fatalities in it is the 50 to 64 group, followed by 30 to 39.

Last year, the State Police reported that 31.1 percent of all fatal accidents involved drivers who had consumed alcohol; 16.2 percent were legally intoxicated.

Of the drivers in the crashes, 73.7 percent were male. Eighty-five percent of last year's fatal accidents occurred in clear weather.

So far this year, Union County fatalities are way up: 24 this year, compared to 14 last year. In Morris County, 16 have died this year, compared to last year's 15. In Somerset County, the numbers are exactly the same for the two years: 13.

Last year in Warren County, 11 had died up to Sept. 30; this year the figure is eight. There has been a slight drop in Hunterdon County as well, going from eight to five.

Each number is a life, a real person, and a tragedy.

Our New Jersey law firm represents people injured in car accidents and also represents clients in wrongful death cases.

Source: NJ.com, "4.9% decline in fatal auto accidents in New Jersey, bucking national trend," Oct. 1, 2012