NEWTON, NJ – Two months of the Street Smart Newton pedestrian safety campaign is having an impact. The data shows drivers and pedestrians are getting the message. TransUnion reports a 34 percent reduction in jaywalking or crossing the street in the middle of the block at a sample intersection and a 21 percent decrease in cars failing to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk.
The Street Smart Newton campaign used both education and law enforcement techniques in a collaborative effort between the Newton Police department, TransUnion, the Town of Newton and Sussex County.
Residents of Newton have also noticed a difference according to survey information. The resident respondents reported “significant decreases in observed dangerous behavior” in all areas and in categories such as
pedestrians crossing against the signal,
drivers not stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks,
drivers speeding in areas with heavy traffic and
drivers running red lights or stop signs.
The survey results also showed a 60 percent increase of awareness of Street Smart and a 58 percent increase in exposure to the “Check you vital signs” slogan for the program and 65 percent increase in reported viewing of campaign images and signage, according to TransUnion.
“We’re incredibly pleased with the results of what was truly a team effort,” said Newton Town Manager Thomas Russo. “I thank everyone involved in the campaign and the residents of Newton for embracing safe behaviors whether walking or driving through town.”
“Street Smart is an important program that embraces grassroots efforts within the community to not only raise awareness of dangerous behaviors, but also to change those behaviors and make our roads safer for all users. We’re very happy to have been able to have an impact in the Town of Newton,” said John F. Ciaffone, TransOptions president.
“Combining TransOptions’ in-school and community-based educational work with the police department’s high visibility enforcement and the town’s promotion and outreach yielded a very successful campaign that we hope to replicate moving forward,” he added.
The campaign was supported by the town of Newton and the Newton Police department after 26 pedestrian related crashes from January 2011 through August 2015, including a fatality.
"The results of the Street Smart Newton pedestrian safety campaign are clear; increased enforcement and education of both motorists and pedestrians can improve safety,” Newton Police Chief Michael Richards said.
Pledging that the safe behavior expectations will continue, Richards hoped that “this sustained effort will create a lasting improvement so that we can earn a reputation as a truly pedestrian-friendly Town.”
“Together with engineering enhancements and installation of crosswalk signal devices, I believe this goal is very achievable. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this important safety campaign,” Richards said.
The Street Smart NJ program was first piloted in 2013 and 2014 by the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority in five municipalities throughout the state. Street Smart NJ is a public education, awareness and behavioral change campaign developed by NJTPA and funded through the Highway Safety Improvement Program and the State Pedestrian Safety Education and Enforcement Fund administered by the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety. The program comes as a response to New Jersey being designated a pedestrian “focus” state by the Federal Highway Administration. The state’s 2013 pedestrian fatality rate of 24.3 percent was nearly double the national average.