Pedestrian safety in NJ appears to be improving, thanks to pilot program
An effort to improve pedestrian safety in New Jersey seems to be working, according to a new report by the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA).
New Jersey is ranked by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as being 14th in the nation in the rate of pedestrian fatalities, and from 2009 to 2011, 13,000 pedestrians were injured and 402 were killed on the state's roadways. The majority of these accidents occurred in municipalities located in Essex, Hudson, Middlesex and Bergen counties.
In November 2013, NJTPA's Street Smart NJ pedestrian safety education and enforcement campaign kicked off as a pilot program in Woodbridge, Jersey City, Newark and Hackettstown. The program ran for one month and was re-launched again in October 2014. The pilot program also ran in Long Beach Island for a few months in 2014.
The $500,000 campaign, funded by a federal grant, called for increased education, in the form of informational cards, signage, warnings and tickets at intersections considered high risk.
"The campaign is addressed at both pedestrians and drivers because both need to know the rules of the road and make wise decisions when traveling," said David Behrend, a spokesman for the NJTPA. He said the idea is to educate people about what safe behavior is.
According to Behrend, video surveillance at targeted intersections, before and after the campaign was launched, show it is working. In fact, jaywalking dropped in Jersey City by 8 percent and 26 percent in Woodbridge.
"At every location we saw improvement. In some cases the improvement was dramatic. Travelers both on foot and behind the wheel were making better and safer decisions and complying with the rules better," Behrend said.
In Woodbridge, a troubled intersection on Main Street was targeted during the campaign and has since resulted in a reduction in the number of pedestrians jaywalking.
"After the campaign was in full force for a few weeks, we noticed people were starting to stop or that motorists were stopping for people on the curb," said Woodbridge Police Sgt. Eric Nelson. "What we tend to do in New Jersey is we don't stop unless we have to. If the guy takes two or three steps in the road, 'well now I have to stop so I don't hit him.' We want the motorist to stop when the pedestrian is on the sidewalk in a safe area when he's going to cross."
According to a report published by Insurance Journal on March 25, during the enforcement, 1,580 warnings and 1,733 summonses were issued to both pedestrians and motorists.
To read the full NJTPA report, click here.