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National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: “Be Street Smart on October 31st”

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TRENTON, NJ - The North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) is urging NJ residents to “Be Street Smart on Oct. 31” by offering Halloween safety tips for pedestrians and drivers. They are doing so as part of the Street Smart NJ campaign, which is working to raise awareness about pedestrian safety throughout the month of October.

When children put on their costumes and head out the door to collect treats on Halloween, they face very real dangers as they make their way from house to house and street to street, according to the NJTPA. Statistics show that children are four times more likely to be hit by a vehicle on Halloween, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And they are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Oct. 31 as any other night of the year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“Halloween is statistically the most dangerous day of the year for pedestrians and making travel safer for everyone is our number one priority,” said Hudson County Executive Thomas A. DeGise, chairman of the NJTPA’s Board of Trustees. “Street Smart NJ is a proven success and we wanted to offer some additional tips for parents, children and motorists to follow to ensure everyone has a safe and happy Halloween.”

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Tips for pedestrians and drivers include the following:

  1. Costumes are key to more than taking home the top prize at a Halloween parade. Dark colored costumes can make it difficult for drivers to see children, especially at dusk and during the evening hours. Parents should choose a light-colored costume for their child, add reflect tape, or have children carry a glow stick or light to ensure motorists can see their child clearly.
  2. It’s important to make sure wigs, masks and costumes don’t impair a child’s ability to walk or see. Children should try to make eye contact with drivers on Halloween and any other day of the year before crossing a road, to ensure motorists see them.
  3. Pedestrians should use sidewalks when available. If there are no sidewalks, pedestrians should walk facing traffic to increase visibility.
  4. Drivers should obey the posted speed limit every day, but particularly on Halloween. AAA suggests motorists drive 5 mph below the speed limit on Oct. 31 when children are more likely to be walking in the road.
  5. New Jersey law requires drivers to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks. Violators can face fines of up to $200 and two points on their licenses. State law also prohibits the use of cell phones while driving. Fines for talking or texting while driving range from $200 for first-time offenders to as much as $800 for repeat offenders.

Street Smart NJ Communities across northern New Jersey have stepped up their pedestrian safety enforcement efforts this month as part of the Street Smart NJ campaign. The New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety, which provides funds for high-profile targeted enforcement to local police departments, is encouraging its grantees to use the Street Smart NJ slogan, “Check Your Vital Signs.”

The key signs are speed limit and stop signs for drivers and walk/don’t walk signals and crosswalks for pedestrians. Communities throughout New Jersey can access free Street Smart NJ resources, including tip cards, posters and social media campaign suggestions HERE.

“If everyone heeds these critical signs, we can prevent crashes and save lives,” said Gary Poedubicky, acting director of NJDHTS. “Local police will be enforcing traffic laws to keep all roadway users safe and help raise awareness of this critically important issue.”

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.

From 2011-2014, 591 pedestrians were killed and more than 17,000 injured on New Jersey’s roadways, which translates to one death every 2.5 days and 11 injuries daily. The NJTPA said it is working closely with the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety, the state’s Transportation Management Associations, the New Jersey Department of Transportation and many local partners to raise safety awareness for drivers and pedestrians alike. The program is funded by the Federal Highway Administration.

The Street Smart NJ campaign has been holding events throughout the month of October including several in conjunction with Walk to School Day, which was Oct. 7. Many of the events were organized by the state’s eight non-profit Transportation Management Associations, which help provide transportation alternatives and encourage safe walking, biking and carpooling.

The NJTPA is the metropolitan planning organization (MPO) for 13 northern New Jersey counties. Under federal legislation, MPOs provide a forum where local officials, public transportation providers and state agency representatives can come together and cooperatively plan to meet the region’s current and future transportation needs. It establishes the region’s eligibility to receive federal tax dollars for transportation projects.

The NJTPA Board consists of one local elected official from each of the 13 counties in the region: Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren, and the cities of Newark and Jersey City. The Board also includes a Governor’s Representative, the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Transportation, the Executive Director of NJ Transit, the Deputy Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and a Citizen’s Representative appointed by the Governor.

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