Impact Seen With New Jersey Pedestrian Safety Program

March 27, 2015

Judging by the number of tickets each year, jaywalking as an infraction draws scant attention from police in New Jersey.

The Asbury Park Press reports that in 2010, there were 557 jaywalking tickets issued in the state of New Jersey, according to the state Administrative Office of the Courts. They rose to 621 in 2011 and 664 in 2012.

With a little more than one ticket issued per town in New Jersey each year on average, that pool of tickets doesn’t offer much to study in terms of the effect of citations on pedestrian behavior. But it certainly did nothing to stem the number of pedestrian deaths.

Pedestrian fatalities rose from 141 to 158 during that same three-year span.

But a recent pedestrian safety program provides some evidence that tickets and warnings, combined with education efforts, work to improve safety among walkers.

Lessening threats to pedestrians has become a concern among transportation safety advocates in the state. New Jersey comes in fifth highest in the nation when it comes to the percentage of pedestrian fatalities compared to all traffic deaths.

The pedestrian safety program run by the New Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, known as Street Smart combined warnings and tickets issued to both drivers and pedestrians with an information campaign in five towns: Newark, Jersey City, Hackettstown, Woodbridge and Long Beach Township.

Part of the $500,000 program involved video surveillance of hot-spot intersections in Woodbridge and Jersey City that monitored jaywalking, red-light running and other violations by walkers and drivers.

According to the NJTPA, a federally-authorized planning organization that oversees transportation projects in 13 Northern New Jersey counties, jaywalking at monitored intersections dropped immediately after the enforcement and education campaign in Woodbridge by 26 percent and Jersey City by 8 percent, according to the final report on the program that was just released.

A total of 1,580 warnings and 1,733 summonses were issued to both motorists and pedestrians. Separate out the pedestrians and they got 126 citations.

The enforcement part brought teeth to the program, said Lt. Paul Vereb of the Long Beach Township Police Department.

“Without that, people wouldn’t listen to you,” said Vereb, who oversaw the Street Smart for the township last summer.

In all, 21 pedestrians were issued jaywalking tickets. There were 455 warnings issued to walkers, he said.

Some violations were issued to people who were distracted by texting, Vereb said.

“It had to be something blatant,” said Vereb, who ran the program for the department.

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