Sunday, November 28, 2010

New Jersey Pedestrian Safety Law Needs Greater Enforcement

The Record notes that the state has proffered $12,000 each to seven Northern New Jersey towns to carry out undercover operations to crack down on drivers who ignore the state's recently strengthened laws requiring all vehicles to come to a complete stop when a pedestrian is in a cross walk.
Officer No walked into the street three times in the first 45 minutes of the day's operation. Cars and trucks, some honking, sped around him. As No tried to cross the street in one 15-second event, officers pulled over a dozen vehicles into the Fort Lee Historic Park. The officers walked down the line and wrote the tickets — $200, plus court costs, and two points against their driver's licenses.

"A lot [of drivers] are finding out the hard way, but they are learning," traffic Capt. Timothy Ford said. "It's going to take awhile to educate them — but it's going to happen."

Pedestrian safety events, such as this one in Fort Lee, are going to become more common because the state Division of Highway Traffic Safety has awarded grants to seven Bergen County and Passaic County communities to use decoy programs to educate drivers about the new state law.
This is one particular law that drivers routinely ignore. Indeed, around Radburn New Jersey drivers flout the law with seeming impudence. They actually try to outrace pedestrians to the crosswalk so that they aren't inconvenienced by waiting 30 seconds for someone to cross the street. It becomes a game of chicken, and pedestrians are the big losers.

The thing of this is that the Fair Lawn police could make a killing if they posted cops to ticket drivers who break the law. As the article points out, one undercover cop was able to lead to a dozen tickets issued in all of 15 seconds. Each of those tickets carried $200 fines plus administrative costs and points on licenses.

Decoy programs aren't needed. Stationing a patrol car at the intersection of Plaza Road and High Street would be a good start, followed by Fair Lawn Avenue at Plaza Road. The drivers on Plaza Road and Fair Lawn Avenue routinely ignore the state law and race through intersections even as pedestrians are crossing. Drivers then think that they can proceed if the pedestrian has crossed out of their path, but state law requires that they completely exit the crosswalk.

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