Local law enforcement is working harder than ever to combat a statewide increase
in pedestrian fatalities.
Across New Jersey pedestrian fatalities were up in 2017 reaching their highest point in more than 24 years according to state police statistics. Many authorities are concerned that distracted drivers and distracted pedestrians are combining to drive these incidents up. In response the South Orange Police Department has been addressing this trend by posting some record numbers of their own. In 2017 SOPD issued 10,958 traffic summonses to drivers, which is 3,451 more than in 2016. They issued 162 Failure to Stop for Pedestrian in Cross-walk summonses in 2017, an increase from 106 in 2016.
“We know we can’t do it with enforcement alone which is why we joined the Street Smart NJ pedestrian safety education campaign aimed at reducing pedestrian-motor vehicle crashes in New Jersey.” said SOPD Public Relations Officer, Sgt. Adrian Acevedo adding “Alert drivers and pedestrians are the key to avoiding any accidents to begin with so we need to increase awareness. For drivers, awareness equals responsibility but for pedestrians, awareness equals self preservation.”
Lt. Michael Corrigan, the head of the SOPD Traffic Bureau laid out the plan. “We spent much of the fall and winter reaching out to pedestrians with the Street Smart campaign and officer interactions and now with warmer weather coming we are extending our efforts to the drivers as well. We want everyone to avoid becoming one of those statistics and drivers can help by adhering to these basic rules,”
- Obey speed limits
- Stop for pedestrians in crosswalks (NJ law)
- Disable or put away smart phones in car
- Share the road with cyclists
The increased efforts don’t stop there. “We will continue to increase foot patrols in the downtown and Irvington Avenue corridors of town, as well as working with our engineering department to address the concerns of our schools, neighborhood safety advocates, business associations, and special needs groups.” stated Lt. Corrigan. SOPD will also continue its “Cops in Crosswalks” program targeting drivers that fail to stop for pedestrians, failing to use their seatbelts, and failure of drivers to use their phones “hands-free”.
The Street Smart NJ campaign comes at a significant time. New Jersey ranked 15th in the nation in pedestrian fatalities in 2015, according to a recent report from The Governor’s Highway Safety Association. The federal government has designated New Jersey a “focus” state – placing an extra emphasis on aiding the state in combating its higher-than-average pedestrian fatality rate and providing funding for this campaign.
Everyone can positively contribute to the Street Smart NJ campaign by following these simple motorist rules and by sharing #BeStreetSmartNJ social media messages with our friends and neighbors. For more information follow the South Orange Police Department on Facebook (SOPDNJ) and Twitter (@SOPolice) and the Street Smart NJ campaign on Facebook (StreetSmartNJ) and Twitter (@njstreetsmart).