Pedestrian error partly to blame for NJ fatal crashes each year
Drivers aren’t the only ones making mistakes that lead to fatal crashes on New Jersey roads. But advocates suggest other road users are sometimes forced to put themselves at risk due to unsatisfactory pavement design.
Every year from 2017 through 2020 (the last year with a full report), according to the New Jersey State Police, at least 120 “pedestrian violations” were cited as a contributing circumstance to fatal crashes. The number was 150 in 2017.
The following are examples of such violations:
- Did not obey the traffic control device
- Crossing where prohibited
- Dark Clothing/Low Visibility
- Failure to respect the right of way
- Walking on the wrong side of the road
- Walking on the road in the presence of sidewalks
- Run/Dart through traffic
In 2020, according to NJSP data, a pedestrian was crossing the street “not at an intersection” before 86 crashes that resulted in at least one death.
Of the 179 pedestrians killed on New Jersey roads in 2020, 156 were tested for alcohol. About a third tested positive.
Pedestrians accounted for 218 of 698 New Jersey road deaths in 2021, according to preliminary NJSP statistics.
Keeping Pedestrians Safe in New Jersey
Pedestrians have the right of way at all intersections in the Garden State, whether or not there is a marked crosswalk.
And a state law that took effect in March 2022 adds protections by imposing a buffer between vehicles and vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians, cyclists and people in wheelchairs. Violators who fail to change lanes, move, or slow down can be fined $100 to $500, depending on whether or not the incident resulted in bodily harm.
“It’s a first path to making things safer, but we really want to see more infrastructure to really separate people and have protected places,” said Sonia Szczesna, director of active transportation for Tri-State Transportation Campaign. , in New Jersey 101.5.
Szczesna said many of the “pedestrian infractions” cited by police can be addressed through actions such as installing pedestrian-focused lighting or more visible crosswalks.
“Obviously you shouldn’t rush through traffic…but I refuse to believe that you have to dress a certain way to survive coming home at night,” Szczesna said.
The campaign is one of more than 20 groups that make up the Vision Zero New Jersey Alliance, which is pushing the state to adopt an approach to traffic safety that aims to eliminate all deaths and serious injuries by anticipating human error and by designing the roads accordingly.
Legislation to create a New Jersey Vision Zero task force is set to be considered by the Senate Transportation Committee on Thursday.
“New Jersey is so car-centric, and we’ve really created roads for cars to drive on,” said Sangeeta Badlani, founder of Families for Safe Streets New Jersey and the Nikhil Badlani Foundation. “What can we do to make our pedestrians and cyclists feel safe on our roads? Because it’s their roadway too.
New Jersey’s Deadliest Intersections
State and local authorities gathered Monday in Trenton to announce the start of a project to improve pedestrian safety along the state’s Route 129 corridor.
The project includes short-term improvements and long-term solutions to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety at three signalized intersections on Route 129, at Lalor Street, Cass Street and Hamilton Avenue. The upgrades will include a “red clearance extensions system,” the first in the country, that detects vehicle speed at an intersection and automatically adjusts for traffic light changes, the Department of Transportation said.
With nine deaths from 2000 to 2019, the intersection of Route 129 and Lalor has been named the deadliest in the country, tied with East Jersey Street and Routes 1 and 9 in Elizabeth.
Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]
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