🚨 Holmdel police spearheaded a traffic enforcement initiative in February

🚨 Distracted driving is a leading cause of crashes

🚨 Patrolman Matthew Menosky uses images of a late friend to deliver the message

Holmdel police Patrolman Matthew Menosky and John "Jack" Misdom are the heart and soul of a Monmouth County traffic safety enforcement initiative.

Instead of using statistics and numbers to drive home the message about the dangers of distracted driving, Menosky uses Misdom, who was his friend but was killed by a drunk driver in 1992 when he was 16.

The four-hour initiative on Feb. 21 in the seven towns that Route 34 travels through was in response to a marked increase in crashes in the past several years, according to Menosky. This was the first year of the campaign.

Police stopped 221 vehicles and issued 125 summonses, according to Menosky. Infractions included 24 for speeding, 18 for cell phone use and nine for careless driving.

Those distractions are what lead to fatal crashes on Route 34 and all New Jersey highways.

"As of Friday, 107 people have died. 3/8/24 is only the 68th day of the year," Menosky said.

According to State Police records, there were 99 crashes on Route 34 with 58 involving distracted driving in 2022, the most recent complete year available. In 2021, 347 total crashes with 183 involving distracted driving. 144 of 298 crashes in 2020 involved distractions.

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Jack Misdom images at Howell police traffic enforcement checkpoints

Instead of using statistics and numbers to drive home the message about the dangers of distracted driving Holmdel police officer Matther Menosky uses images of friend Jack Misdom at traffic enforcement checkpoints. He was killed by a drunk driver in 1992 but his presence is felt at every event.

Gallery Credit: Dan Alexander

Images instead of statistics

"We hand out the pamphlets, we talk to drivers and stuff, but I came up with the idea to dedicate the checkpoint to a family friend of ours who was killed by a drunk driver back in '92. I took pictures of him throughout his life and we had a big sign as people pulled into our checkpoint right off the highway saying that it was dedicated to him."

Several pictures showing his life progression were posted along Route 34 in Holmdel with banners that read "Remember me."

"The last picture that people would see was his actual headstone. So it was really widely received and it was it was good for the family because it kept their son's and their brother's memory alive," Menosky said. "Some of the people that were driving through it and they were in tears and they're like 'thank you because like this could have been my son. This could have been my brother.'"

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Holmdel police officer Matthew Menosky
Holmdel police officer Matthew Menosky (Holmdel police)

More traffic enforcements

Menosky, who is a level 2 traffic safety specialist, said for all the signs and highway engineering it comes down to changing driving behavior. He believes it could prevent over 90% of crashes.

"We need to get that issue tackled just to get everyone to talk about changing and just being aware of traffic safety culture. Then hopefully, we can bring awareness to specific reasons like don't drive impaired, don't pick up your phone, follow the speed limit," Menosky said.

Menosky said he is working on another traffic enforcement on Route 35 at the end of March and another just before the Memorial Day weekend on roads headed for shore destinations.

The initiative has already caught the attention of a seventh grader in Holmdel who wants to help spread the word in schools. Menosky also hopes to work with community and religious groups.

"The foundation needs to be the engagement of everyone because this does not discriminate, it can happen to any single one of us and our families," Menosky said.

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