Police Departments along the Jersey Shore and throughout New Jersey are working to raise awareness about pedestrian safety this summer by partnering with Street Smart NJ.
There’s always an increase in the number of people out walking and biking during the warmer months, but the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has encouraged even more people to go for a walk or ride — whether for exercise or for transportation. With so many more people out, it’s more important than ever to keep safety in mind when travelling.
“Raising public awareness is paramount in helping to save lives and prevent injuries on our roads and especially during the summer season when we host thousands of visitors in our shore towns,” said Ocean County Freeholder John P. Kelly, Director of Law and Public Safety. “With the help of our police departments, we have developed an important partnership that takes the message on travel safety to where it really counts – to drivers and pedestrians who need to look out for each other every day, at every crosswalk, along every road and at every intersection. There is no vacation from safety.”
Freeholder Kelly is Second Vice Chair of the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) Board of Trustees. The NJTPA developed and manages Street Smart NJ.
Several police departments on Long Beach Island — including Beach Haven, Harvey Cedars, Long Beach Township, Ship Bottom and Surf City — are again working with Street Smart NJ this summer. Outdoor signs will be on display in participating communities and safety tip cards are being distributed.
In addition, Street Smart NJ advertisements on NJ TRANSIT buses will remind people driving and walking to keep safety in mind while travelling.
Street Smart NJ aims to change the behaviors that contribute to pedestrian-vehicle crashes through educational outreach and increased enforcement. Police will be reminding drivers to slow down and obey speed limits, stop for people crossing and avoid distractions. People walking are reminded to use crosswalks and wait for the walk signal or green light before crossing and to avoid distractions when crossing.
“Crashes resulting in pedestrian fatalities and serious injuries are preventable, if everyone avoids distractions and keeps safety in mind when traveling,” said Harvey Cedars Police Chief Robert Burnaford. “We’ll be cracking down on speeding and distracted driving. But it’s also important for people to remember to walk facing traffic when there are no sidewalks and bike with the flow of traffic.”
Long Beach Island was one of the original five pilot locations when the NJTPA launched the Street Smart NJ pedestrian safety program in 2013 and 2014. The program has since grown to more than 140 communities across the state.
Other police departments participating in the summer campaign include Bergenfield, Blairstown, Bordentown Township, Caldwell, Camden County, Chester, Closter, Denville, Fort Lee, Irvington, Little Silver, Long Branch, Neptune, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Park Ridge, Parsippany-Troy Hills, Pennsauken, Ridgefield Park, Roseland, Roselle Park, Rutgers University, Rutherford, Sea Girt, Union Beach, Union Township, Wallington and Wyckoff.
Pedestrian safety is a concern nationwide, but it is particularly important in New Jersey, which the federal government has designated a pedestrian safety focus state for its high rate of fatalities and injuries. Pedestrians comprised 30 percent (173 people) of the 564 people killed in crashes in New Jersey in 2018, nearly double the national average of 16 percent, according to the most recent data available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). New Jersey ranked 18th in the nation in pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 people in 2018. On average, one pedestrian is killed every two days in New Jersey and 12 are injured daily.
Street Smart NJ is one of many initiatives in New Jersey working to help the state reach its goal of zero pedestrian fatalities.