MONTVILLE, NJ – When residents visit the businesses in Towaco Center on Nov. 15, they’ll see an increased police presence, but it may not be for the reason they think. Montville Township Police are trying to educate drivers – as well as pedestrians – on the laws of pedestrian crossings, in an attempt to increase safety in that area.

“With the Towaco Shop Hop approaching, and in order to try to impress upon drivers that they need to stop for pedestrians in the two crosswalks there, we’re going to have a pedestrian education and enforcement event there on Friday,” Traffic Bureau supervisor Sergeant Adam Kenny told TAPinto Montville recently. “Pedestrians should not have to stand there and wait for five minutes to cross the street. Conversely, pedestrians are not supposed to just walk out into traffic in front of cars – that’s dangerous too.”

Kenny said the point of the event is education, rather than simply writing out tickets.

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“The speed limit in Towaco Center was reduced by the county to 30 mph in that area,” he said. “The crosswalks are clearly marked. Yet I’ve had bus drivers tell me that they warn passengers getting off there not to depend on drivers to stop for them. We want to bring awareness to drivers that they need to stop for pedestrians.”

The officers at the event will have pamphlets to hand out to pedestrians as well as drivers. One states that one pedestrian is killed every two days in New Jersey. The statistic hits home – a  pedestrian was killed in Pine Brook in July, and two Montville residents were struck and injured in Denville in September while walking on Diamond Spring Road, making the danger very real right in town.

The other pamphlet informs readers that drivers need to stop at crosswalks or pay a $200 fine plus potentially receive two points on their driver’s license.

But pedestrians have responsibilities too. Kenny advised they make a hand signal announcing that they were crossing, designed to catch the driver’s attention. In general, they should cross at a crosswalk or intersection, preferably using a traffic light, and they should keep their heads up and pay attention – and not stare at their phones while walking or crossing. They can be fined $54 for failing to observe pedestrian crossing signals or not using the crosswalks at signalized intersections.

Kenny said the Traffic Bureau, which is composed of Patrolmen Dominick Danzi and Keith Donnelly and himself, attended a one-day training seminar on conducting police pedestrian education and enforcement events at Berkeley College in Woodbridge. They learned the statute and how to administer these events, which are a joint venture with the Street Smart program, Rutgers, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Kenny said. Then they went out with the Woodbridge Police Department to participate in a real event to increase safety in that area, he said.

But what Kenny wanted to assert is that the event is not designed to be a trap.

“This is not a sting,” Kenny said, “It will be obvious that there is activity and drivers will want to slow and stop before pedestrians cross. We want pedestrians to learn they shouldn’t walk into the road with the car fifteen or twenty feet away from them. Then the driver has enough distance to react and stop.”

Kenny said future events will be held near the high school and Lazar Middle School.

Police Chief Andrew Caggiano said that he is looking forward to the event providing education to drivers and pedestrians alike.

“Pedestrian safety is an important mission of the Montville Township Police Department,” he said. “By conducting these enforcement and educational activities we hope to raise awareness to motorists and pedestrians. I commend the Traffic Bureau for taking these proactive measures.”

For more information about New Jersey laws for both drivers and pedestrians, go to: Be Street Smart.

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