Safer vehicles, more seat-belt use, tougher drunken-driving laws, and restricted licenses for young drivers were among the reasons for the declining number of fatalities, experts said.
In 2013, 545 people were killed in traffic accidents in New Jersey, including 35 in Burlington County, 31 in Camden County, and 26 in Gloucester County. In 2012, 589 people died in New Jersey traffic accidents.
The previous low, since state police began recording traffic deaths, was in 2010, when 556 people died. In 2011, 627 people died.
By contrast, in 1981, 1,160 people were killed on New Jersey highways.
In Pennsylvania, Transportation Department officials said they expected 2013 death totals to be lower than the 1,310 recorded in 2012. Data for the first half of the year showed deaths on a pace to break the record low set in 2009, when 1,256 were recorded.
"It'll be good news if they are lower," said Jenny Robinson of AAA Mid-Atlantic in Philadelphia. "It appears that tougher laws on texting and on teen driver's licenses have been effective."
Robinson also noted that seat-belt use had increased, and drunken-driving laws had been changed to lower the amount of alcohol a driver can consume before being legally intoxicated.
Tough economic times for the last five years may also have contributed to declining traffic deaths by reducing the number of miles driven, she said.
"Crashes will go down when people are driving less," she said.
The biggest threat to traffic safety now appears to be distracted driving caused by motorists using cellphones, GPS units, and other electronic devices, the state police said.