“Be Street Smart” will encourage motorists and pedestrians to “Check Your Vital Signs” to improve their safety on the road
Mayor Ras J. Baraka, the Newark Municipal Council, Engineering Director Phillip Scott, and Traffic and Signals Division Manager Jack Nata announced today that the City of Newark this October will participate in the statewide pedestrian safety education campaign to address the high incidence of pedestrian-motor vehicle crashes in New Jersey. The “Be Street Smart NJ” campaign is a collaborative effort between public, private and non-profit organizations to educate pedestrians and motorists about making safety their top priority whether walking or driving.
The campaign urges pedestrians and motorists to “Check Your Vital Signs” to improve their safety on the road. The vital signs for motorists are “obey posted speed limits” and “stop for pedestrians in crosswalks,” and “use crosswalks” and “wait for the walk signal” for pedestrians. The campaign will take place during the month of October, and will include both education and enforcement.
“Even one death on our streets is too many. I commend the Department of Engineering for partnering with the state and many other caring agencies to continue to educate our residents and visitors about the simple steps they can take to be safe on our streets. We are working to educate the community so they know the steps they can take to ensure their own safety, and the consequences for violating the law. The purpose is to prevent crashes, save lives, and transform Newark into a safer City we can all believe in,” said Mayor Baraka.
The State of New Jersey is 14th in the nation in pedestrian fatalities; 23 percent of all traffic fatalities in New Jersey are pedestrians, which is double the national average. Between 2009 and 2011, 402 pedestrians were killed and more than 13,000 injured statewide. That translates to one death every 2.5 days and 14 pedestrian injures daily, prompting the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to designate New Jersey a “focus” state. The FHWA has also named the City of Newark a “focus” city. Between 2009 and 2012, there were 1,863 pedestrian crashes resulting in 27 deaths and 1,623 injuries. Newark is first among state municipalities in pedestrian fatalities.
Throughout October, the City and its partners, which include the Newark Downtown District (NDD), the Ironbound Business Improvement District (IBID), NJPAC, Prudential, NJ Transit, Rutgers University, NJIT, Essex County College, Newark Regional Business Partnership, and various community groups are using their outreach channels to promote this message to pedestrians and motorists throughout the City. The campaign is being promoted through advertisements on street banners, window clings, posters, educational handouts, email blasts, and more. Additionally, the bestreetsmartnj.org website is providing pedestrian safety information to the public and community partners in Newark and statewide.
In addition to the education component, targeted enforcement will take place at key hot spots in the City. “The enforcement component will continue to focus on motorists adhering to New Jersey’s stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk law, which took effect in April 2010. Police officers will also address speeding, illegal turns, and distracted driving, which often contribute to pedestrian-related crashes,” said Director Scott. “We need the support of all Newark residents and visitors to reduce the number of crashes and fatalities on our streets.”