Street Smart NJ is again partnering with police departments along the Jersey Shore to raise awareness about pedestrian safety during the busy summer beach season. The summer campaign officially kicked off with a news conference outside the Long Beach Township Police Department Wednesday.
Ocean County recently made safety improvements to the intersection of Long Beach Boulevard and E. Meade Avenue, including new pedestrian signals. The upgrades were part of a larger project to improve safety at intersections across the island. The county is completing the second phase of the three-phase project and plans to complete the upgrades by next summer.
“Pedestrian safety is a top priority every day, but it’s especially important during the summer months when we have thousands of people visiting our shore communities,” said Freeholder John P. Kelly, who sits on the NJTPA Board of Trustees. “We’re committed to making our streets safer but we need everyone’s help. If you keep safety in mind when you’re driving and walking, we can make a difference and reduce crashes.”
The NJTPA developed Street Smart NJ as a pilot program in 2013 and 2014. Long Beach Township was one of the earliest partners. Since that time about 100 communities across New Jersey have used Street Smart NJ to help raise awareness about pedestrian safety.
“These campaigns make a difference by reminding everyone to follow the laws and be safe,” said Megan Keller, a community police officer with the Long Beach Township Police Department. “Drivers need to slow down, focus on the road and stop for people crossing. And people who are out walking should use crosswalks or cross at corners, wait for the signal and also avoid distractions.”
Street Smart NJ is a collaborative effort between public, private and non-profit organizations. During the campaign, local police will be enforcing pedestrian laws and working to educate people who are driving and walking.
In addition to Beach Haven, Harvey Cedars, Long Beach Township, Ship Bottom and Surf City on Long Beach Island, Asbury Park, Bradley Beach, Brielle, Long Branch, Manasquan, Point Pleasant Beach and Sea Girt, among others, are participating in the summer campaign. The campaign is also advertising at NJ TRANSIT train stations in Bradley Beach, Belmar, Long Branch and Point Pleasant, and on buses along the Jersey Shore.
An analysis of eight campaigns conducted in 2018 and 2019 found Street Smart NJ contributed to: A 60 percent reduction in drivers failing to stop before turning right at a red signal or stop sign; a 40 percent reduction in turning vehicles failing to stop for people crossing; a 45 percent reduction in drivers running a red light or stop sign; and a 21 percent reduction in people crossing against the signal or outside of a crosswalk.
“This campaign is truly making a difference in the communities that partner with us,” said Mary D. Ameen, executive director of the NJTPA. “Any community can participate in Street Smart NJ. We have all the tools you need to organize a campaign available at BeStreetSmartNJ.org. I encourage everyone to work with us to make New Jersey a safer place to walk, bike and drive.”
Pedestrian safety is 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 29 percent (183 people) of the 624 people killed in crashes in New Jersey in 2017, 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 ranks 13th in the nation in pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 people. 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. The campaign reminds people that everyone has a role to play in making our streets safer. Drivers need to obey speed limits and stop for people crossing; people walking need to use crosswalks (marked and unmarked) and cross with the signals; and everyone needs to avoid distractions.