SOUTH ORANGE, NJ -- A pedestrian safety campaign is being initiated by the village’s Public Safety Committee, in partnership with the South Orange Police Department. 

“Pedestrian safety remains a priority among Village officials and we view this initiative as ongoing,” said Sheena Collum, trustee and chairwoman of the Village’s Public Safety Committee.

The South Orange Police Department issued 16 summonses on April 1 after their “Cops in Crosswalks” campaign. The program, which is supported by a grant from the Division of Highway and Traffic Safety, involved officers dressed in plain clothes and acting as pedestrians. Drivers who did not yield to the officers in the crosswalks were ticketed.

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There will be two components to the initiative according to Collum. In addition to strict enforcement by the police, there is the public education aspect

The Public Safety Committee will use several outlets to spread awareness of the campaign, including neighborhood associations, the Neighborhood Watch Organization, social media, banners and posters. Collum said the initiative will be ongoing.

“The goal of this initiative is to inform both motorists and pedestrians of their roles and responsibilities; thereby improving pedestrian safety.” Collum said. “We want our residents as well as drivers passing through our community to know the laws and also know that if they break them, there are consequences.“

Under the law, motorists are required to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks. Pedestrians are only given the right-of-way at marked crosswalks and crosswalks at traffic signals. Motorists who fail to stop can be penalized two points on their license, be assessed a $200 fine and be required to perform 15 days of community service. Pedestrians who fail to yield to traffic in the road at points other than a crosswalk can be fined $54.

The reporter is a student participating in hyperlocal journalism partnership between The Alternative Press and Seton Hall University's Department of Communication & The Arts.