We have a serious problem with pedestrian safety in our area. Forty-five pedestrians have been killed on roads in Essex County since 2011. In Montclair alone, drivers hit pedestrians–some of them in crosswalks–in October, March, April, and May, resulting in two deaths.
In response, police departments throughout the county are attempting to curb dangerous driving by going undercover to carry out pedestrian crosswalk stings.
Officers from Montclair, Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, East Orange and Newark police departments were deployed yesterday to act as pedestrians on the Bloomfield Avenue corridor. The well traveled road is the site of many accidents–including one of the recent pedestrian fatalities in Montclair. Drivers who failed to yield to the undercover officers in the crosswalk were stopped and either warned or ticketed by uniformed officers a short distance away. Normally, motorists violating the pedestrian law face a $100 fine, plus court costs and fees, and two points on their driving record.
“Bloomfield Avenue is one of our county’s busiest and most dangerous roads for pedestrians,” said Essex County Community Transportation Safety Program Coordinator Arnold Anderson. “The implementation of this program should go a long way to making it safer for everyone who steps off the sidewalk and into a crosswalk.”
Pedestrian fatalities account for about half of all motor vehicle deaths in Essex County, which ranks among the highest rate in New Jersey–a state where pedestrian fatalities have been rising steadily over the last three years. In 2012, 163 pedestrians were killed on New Jersey’s roadways. This year, 57 pedestrians have been killed, a rate slightly higher than last year’s.
Glen Ridge Police chose the location of Belleville Ave. and Sherman Ave. for their sting operation. They issued 15 motor vehicle summonses and 67 warnings during a four hour period, according to Lt Fred Egnezzo. Drivers were also given an educational brochure listing fines and an explanation of the obligation drivers have to pedestrians in a crosswalk.
The “Cops in Crosswalks” initiative is funded by the Division of Highway Traffic Safety and is administered by the Essex County College Police Academy in Cedar Grove.
The Division offers the following safety tips for pedestrians:
• Walk on sidewalks or paths and always cross at the corner, within marked crosswalks. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic and make eye contact with motorists.
• Never cross mid-block (unless within a marked crosswalk), between parked cars or by climbing over median barriers.
• Look left, then right and left again before crossing, and always be on the look-out for turning vehicles.
• Continue to look for vehicles while crossing, even when in marked crosswalks.
• Learn the proper use of “walk/don’t walk” signals and obey them.
• Walk and cross with others, when possible.
• Wear bright-colored, reflectorized clothing, especially at night.
• Do not attempt to cross while talking or texting on a cell phone.
• Try not to walk at night or in bad weather, such as rain, snow or ice.
• If you drink alcohol, have someone escort you to your front door.