BLOOMFIELD, NJ - The North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) is partnering with Essex County and six municipalities to launch a multi-town Street Smart NJ pedestrian safety education campaign along Bloomfield Avenue.

Bloomfield Avenue is one of the busiest corridors in Essex County, which creates serious pedestrian safety concerns. From 2011 through 2015 there were 256 pedestrians involved in crashes, resulting in 3 fatalities and 226 injuries.

“Safety for all travelers is our highest priority in Essex County,” said Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, who represents the County on the NJTPA Board of Trustees and serves as its Third Vice Chair. “This campaign is aimed at raising awareness and encouraging drivers and pedestrians alike to make smarter, safer decisions on the road. It’s also good for the local economy, encouraging people to walk safely and enjoy all the great amenities our downtowns have to offer.”

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County Executive DiVincenzo joined local and county officials in kicking off the campaign outside Bloomfield Town Hall on Tuesday, May 9.

Street Smart NJ is coordinated by the NJTPA. A collaborative effort between public, private and non-profit organizations, Street Smart NJ urges motorists, cyclists and pedestrians to obey New Jersey’s pedestrian safety laws. The campaign’s slogan is “Check Your Vital Signs,” because pedestrian safety is vital to everyone’s wellbeing. The key “vital signs” are speed limit and stop signs for drivers, and walk/don’t walk signals and crosswalks for pedestrians. A fifth message, “Heads Up, Phones Down,” encourages both motorists and pedestrians to avoid distractions.

Bloomfield Mayor Michael Venezia said motorists and pedestrians must get involved to make the campaign a success.

“Everyone has a role to play in this effort. Motorists need to obey speed limits and stop for pedestrians. And pedestrians should use crosswalks and wait for the walk before crossing,” Mayor Venezia said. “It’s also important that everyone avoid distractions whether driving a car or walking down the street. Heads up, phones down is good advice for everyone.”

Verona Mayor Kevin Ryan noted that Street Smart is a collaborative effort between community members and law enforcement.

“The combination of education and enforcement we are launching today through the Street Smart campaign promises to make an important difference towards improved safety,” Mayor Ryan said.

The Essex County Sherriff’s Department will be supporting the campaign with educational and enforcement activities. In addition to the Essex County Sheriff’s Department, Bloomfield, Montclair, Verona, Glen Ridge, Caldwell and West Caldwell are participating. The campaign was coordinated with the help of Arnold Anderson, Community Traffic Safety Coordinator at the Essex County College Public Safety Academy.

Throughout the campaign, street signs, posters, safety tip cards and other educational materials will be on display throughout the participating communities. Street Smart NJ coasters and coffee cup sleeves will be available as well. Police will be educating the public by distributing safety tip cards, and they will conduct enforcement efforts to ensure motorists and pedestrians are following the law.

“Our officers will be interacting with motorists to make sure they know and obey the law and stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk,” Bloomfield Police Director Samuel DeMaio said. “We will also be reminding pedestrians to use crosswalks and to cross at intersections.”
 
The Street Smart NJ campaign works. Evaluations of campaigns in 2016 found a 40 percent reduction in drivers failing to yield to crossing pedestrians or cyclists and a 28 percent reduction in pedestrians jaywalking or crossing against the signal.

NJTPA Executive Director Mary K. Murphy commended Essex County and the communities for partnering with Street Smart to make New Jersey’s streets safer for everyone. The NJTPA is now more than halfway to its goal of securing 100 campaign partners.

“Any community can run a Street Smart NJ campaign,” Executive Director Murphy said. “We have everything you need — from posters to tip cards to a ‘how to’ guide and a digital toolkit — on our website. I urge you to consider joining this important initiative.”

Pedestrian safety continues to be an important issue in New Jersey. The state has been designated a “focus” state by the Federal Highway Administration for the high incidence of injury and fatal motor vehicle crashes involving pedestrians. During the five-year period from 2011-2015, 765 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle crashes and more than 22,000 were injured, according to the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety. Pedestrians accounted for 28.7 percent of people killed in vehicle crashes during those years, nearly double the national pedestrian fatality rate.