TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Traffic pursuits by the New Jersey State Police are up 50% compared with last year and are on pace to be the highest on record, state police superintendent Col. Pat Callahan said Monday. There have been 153 pursuits so far this year by troopers, he said during a news conference on COVID-19 Monday, compared with 102 in 2019. He said the state is headed toward 260 pursuits for the year, which would be a record.

The cause is unclear, but Callahan and Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy speculated that lighter traffic on highways could be a factor.

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They also suggested it could stem from anxiety generally.

“Whether that’s for lighter traffic, whether that’s for people being stressed out, I’m not sure I have the answer for that,” he said.

Murphy questioned whether similar trends were unfolding in other states.

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“Lighter traffic, folks being pent up, human nature, stress, whatever it might be, they’re all sort of coming together in a cocktail,” he said.

Callahan also said traffic accidents are up 34%, while fatalities are up 10%, though he didn’t specify how many there were.

The state police patrol the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway, as well as 89 mostly rural towns and areas across the state.

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