West Orange kicked off its pedestrian safety campaign during the Township Council meeting Tuesday night.
The campaign, which aims to change unsafe behaviors and reduce pedestrian-vehicle crashes, will continue through April. There will be an emphasis on improving safety at the intersection of Eagle Rock Avenue and Harrison Street.
Street Smart NJ was developed by the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority in 2013 and is a collaborative effort between public, private and non-profit organizations. During the campaign, educational materials will be on display at the intersection and in the community, The township, West Orange Police, EZ Ride, the Downtown Alliance, and other community groups will be distributing and posting safety information and social media messages.
Councilman Jerry Guarino spoke during the kickoff event, along with Schools Superintendent J. Scott Cascone, Officer Scott Smarsh from the Traffic Police Division, Will Yarzab from NJTPA and Zachery Calle of EZ Ride. West Orange takes pedestrian safety seriously, and this campaign will be part of an effort to make streets safer for everyone.
“Although my term as councilman is drawing to a close I have long advocated for pedestrian safety. The groundwork that I have helped put in motion will endure towards keeping West Orange residents safe,” Councilman Guarino said. “I leave with a great sense of satisfaction knowing that my many hours of dedicated and hard work will yield positive change that I am proud to have been a part of.”
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 vehicle 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 ranks 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. There were 94 motor vehicle crashes involving pedestrians in West Orange from 2015-2019.
Street Smart NJ is one of many initiatives in New Jersey working to reduce pedestrian fatalities to zero. 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.
During the campaign, local police will be enforcing pedestrian laws and working with several partners – including township officials, the Pedestrian Safety Advisory Board, the Downtown Alliance, West Orange Schools, and EZ Ride – to educate people who are driving and walking.
The statewide Street Smart NJ campaign is managed by the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA). EZ Ride will be helping to coordinate the local campaign in conjunction with local stakeholders.
Businesses, organizations and individuals interested in helping to promote Street Smart NJ in West Orange can contact Zachery Calle at 201-939-4242 ext. 121, or email@example.com.