Why you shouldn’t walk while drunk in New Jersey
If you throw back a few drinks at the bar and decide against getting behind the wheel, that's a smart move.
But are you even in the right mind to put one foot in front of the other?
Year after year, drunk walking is a killer in the Garden State.
According to State Police data, a total of 166 pedestrians were killed on New Jersey's roadways in 2016, the latest year for which detailed statistics are available.
Of the 144 tested for alcohol, 42 had a blood alcohol content at .08 percent or above (the legal limit for getting behind the wheel in New Jersey). Another nine had at least one alcoholic drink in the hours leading up to their passing. Similar numbers were recorded in 2015.
"We always think about drinking and driving, but seldom do we realize how dangerous it is to walk while impaired," said Gary Poedubicky, acting director of the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety. "It most definitely is an issue that we have to continue to remind people about."
It's a recipe for disaster when drunken walkers are stumbling out of the bar like zombies, wearing dark clothes, and dealing with today's other distractions.
"They're on their phones and they're not paying attention ... and then when you add that to someone who is impaired, it becomes even more troublesome," Poedubicky said.
On the main boulevard in Surf City, a driver going 30 mph needs about 111 feet in order to stop in time for a pedestrian, according to Police Chief Jack Casella.
"That's about two front yards in our town," he said.
And if an intoxicated pedestrian makes a bad decision — crossing a road outside of a designated crosswalk area, for example — the chances of a vehicle stopping in time can be drastically reduced.
Casella said many pedestrians — impaired or sober — feel they have the right of way in every scenario.
Cops in the borough, Casella said, will offer a ride home to someone "having an issue navigating a sidewalk." When driving isn't an option, people also have the option of using a car service.
Overall, 2016 recorded a 21.1 percent increase in alcohol-related fatalities on the road, compared to 2015, according to the State Police figures. Of the pedestrians killed who were tested, 35 tested positive for drugs.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.