SUMMIT, NJ - In the wake of the Jan. 8 incident where a school crossing guard was struck by a motor vehicle at the intersection of Morris Avenue and Elm Street, Summit Police Chief Robert Weck has released the following statement and information on pedestrian safety in Summit:

"With the recent accident in which a crossing guard was struck by a motor vehicle as she walked back to the curb and the comments/thoughts it has generated about pedestrian safety, I wanted to communicate with the public about “perception vs. reality” as well as share what the Summit Police have been doing to address it.
Let me start off with saying that even one pedestrian struck by a motor vehicle is one too many, and we will continue to do what we’ve been doing -- and that is, to utilize the three E’s of traffic safety: Education, Engineering and Enforcement to ensure motorists and pedestrians alike are safe when crossing, walking near or driving on our roadways.

For a variety of reasons, the public may not be aware of the actual motor vehicle accident statistics and/or safety initiatives being conducted by the police department and other city departments.  I have provided those statistics on pedestrian and motor vehicle accidents below to ensure that the correct information as well as a consistent message from the City is received.

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While I understand the public concerns against any pedestrian accident, this is where the perception vs. reality clarification begins.  Again, I will preface these statistics with the comment that while the Summit Police Department,  City Hall and the public would prefer not to experience any accidents (of any type) each year, we know that is probably unrealistic, and we will continue to work towards decreasing the number of accidents each year.

With that said, here are the statistics that demonstrate the dedicated and professional work the members of the Summit Police Department and other city departments (Engineering) have been doing to work towards that goal:

Pedestrian Accidents:

2011: 21

2012: 18

2013:  9

It is important to note that while they are officially labeled as pedestrian accidents, they may not be consistent with the public’s perception of a pedestrian accident (“car running over an individual” etc).  Of the nine (9) pedestrian accidents that occurred in 2013, here is the actual breakdown:

Pedestrian’s Fault:  2

 Parking Lot:  1

driver hit gas pedal instead of brake & struck pedestrian in the leg

Driver’s Fault  4

driver inattention, blind spots, sun glare etc.

Questionable:  2

different opinions if vehicle actually stuck pedestrian (“he said/she said” scenario with no witnesses)

As these statistics show, pedestrian accidents are not of epidemic proportion. Traffic issues have always been a high priority concern for our police department as well as for the city. We have made great strides in our efforts to improve pedestrian safety, and we will continue to do so each and every year.

Pedestrian Fatalities:

2010:  2

2011:  2

2012:  0

2013:  0

Summonses Issued for Moving Violations:

2011:  2,673

2012:  3.143

2013:  3,962

Important to note that distracted-driving type summonses--failure to stop for pedestrian, cell phone use, etc.-- have almost doubled in the last two years.  So again, the perception vs. reality factors in.  The department has also logged hundreds of hours conducting RADAR throughout Summit, which resulted in numerous summonses being issued for a variety of traffic violations.

The police department continues to work hand-in-hand with the city’s engineering department; and just this past year, several projects have been completed, such as turn restrictions, lane designation paintings, median installations and highly visible crosswalk painting--all to help traffic issues.  We will continue to discuss and research new safety measures and devices, such as in-ground lighted crosswalks and pedestrian warning signals for various intersections in the coming year.

I hope the information contained in this article helps to clarify the perception vs. reality when it comes to pedestrian safety in Summit as well as what the city is doing to ensure that everyone who visits or makes their home in Summit has a safe and enjoyable experience.

The city and police department will continue to do all it can to address the traffic issues, both perceived and real, but if pedestrians and motorists alike don’t do their part in being aware of their surroundings and taking their time while traveling through Summit, we won’t reach our goal of zero pedestrian accidents.  So I ask you, won’t you please be part of the solution and not the problem.

Thank you in advance for all your assistance."

The crossing guard involved in the incident sustained non-life threatening injuries, and was treated at Morristown Medical Center and was released.