In an effort to boost pedestrian safety throughout New Jersey, lawmakers are seeking to increase the fines for those violating the law. The legislation, sponsored by Assemblymen Troy Singleton, Herb Conaway M.D., Benjie Wimberly and Carmelo Garcia, was approved Thursday by the General Assembly.
Noting the high number of fatalities along Route 130 in Burlington County, considered the state’s most dangerous corridor, the lawmakers designed the bills to enhance protection for pedestrians traversing intersections and using crosswalks by increasing penalties for moving violations involving pedestrians.
“There are many roads throughout our state that remain very pedestrian-unfriendly, however Route 130 in Burlington County has the unfortunate distinction of being one of the most dangerous corridors in our state,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “Since it was first constructed, changing demographics and population density have made it a hindrance to public safety. This will help raise awareness and boost education on pedestrian safety while funding improvements to make many of our highways more pedestrian-friendly.”
“Whether its Burlington or Bergen County, there’s no denying that we live in the most densely populated state in the country,” said Conaway (D-Burlington). “This presents a dilemma when it comes to balancing the desire to accommodate motorists with the need to protect pedestrians, particularly school children. I think we’ve found a healthy balance here that will combine education with roadway improvements to facilitate both desires.”
The bill (A-960) increases to $250 the fine to be imposed on a person convicted of violating the state laws that:
· Establish a driver’s responsibilities concerning pedestrians at intersections where traffic is controlled by a traffic control device or police officer;
· Establish a driver’s responsibilities concerning pedestrians at intersections where traffic is not controlled by a traffic control device or police officer;
· Require drivers making a right turn at a red or yellow traffic signal to stop and remain stopped for pedestrians crossing within the adjacent crosswalk into which the motorist is turning; and
· Requires drivers making a right turn at a stop or yield sign to stop and remain stopped for pedestrians crossing within the adjacent crosswalk into which the motorist is turning.
The bill specifies that $150 of the $250 fine is to be deposited into the Pedestrian Safety Enforcement and Education Fund and that $50 of the amount deposited in the fund is to be dedicated to initiatives on high priority roadways. A “high priority roadway” is defined to be a highway on which more than four pedestrian fatalities have occurred in the previous calendar year or more than eight pedestrian fatalities have occurred in the prior three calendar years.
“We need to do more to promote pedestrian safety and responsible driving,” said Wimberly (D-Passaic/Bergen). “This bill will make clear that drivers need to be more aware, while also providing means to improve our roads and make them safer. That benefits everyone.”
“Some of our roads can be quite treacherous for pedestrians,” said Garcia (D-Hudson). “This bill can help raise awareness about pedestrian safety, while funding initiatives that can help make roads that are particularly problematic safer for motorists and pedestrians to share.”
The bill was approved 45-22-2 and now awaits further consideration by the Senate.