Pedestrian fatalities decreasing in Ocean County, authorities say
The number of highway-related pedestrian fatalities dropped slightly in 2015 in Ocean County, according to Al Della Fave, spokesman for the Prosecutor's Office.
"In 2014, we had 14 pedestrian fatalities, and right now as it stands, for 2015 we're at 11," Della Fave said. He noted the small decline is not any more comforting to the agency.
"We've been relentless in trying to convince people that they have to use extreme caution in [the] Ocean County area. There's so many spots that present a danger, specifically of course, Route 37, Route 9, Route 70, Route 571. All those areas at one point have a good amount of businesses and folks who are attempting to cross the street from one business to another, they have to do it at the posted crosswalks.They have to utilize the mechanical traffic control devices," Della Fave said.
The spokesman said that walking along shoulders is also dangerous, with motorists drifting or speeding.
"If I had to highlight one time when it's most dangerous, of course, at night. A lot of the fatalities come at night with people wearing dark lighting and in some areas lighting is not as good as others, and it's difficult for drivers to notice folks in dark clothing," said Della Fave.
He said a lot of incidents happen just from people crossing against the right of way.
"And that's what's most disturbing to us," Della Fave said. "They have this belief that the pedestrian has the right of way, and yes, if you're in the posted crosswalk and if you're utilizing those traffic control devices, yes, but if you're crossing mid-street, mid-block, no you don't. Individuals are not going to be able to avoid striking you or stop striking you if they see you the last minute."
Surprisingly, distracted walking is just as much an issue as distracted driving, with people talking on cell phones, texting, or using the internet, according to Della Fave.
"That's definitely a recipe for disaster. When you get to that crosswalk, it's the time to stop and put your full attention on making it across that street," said Della Fave. "Plain and simple it just needs both driver and pedestrian to be more responsible in terms of looking out for each other," he added.
Some of the most recent pedestrian road fatalities in Ocean County include a 68-year-old man who died from his injuries after being struck by a vehicle in Lakewood while crossing Cedarbridge Avenue on Dec. 26, 2015. A 49-year-old woman was killed on Route 9 in Berkeley Township on Dec. 12, 2015 by a pizza delivery man who police said was distracted counting a tip.