Pedestrian Deaths Jump After Years Of Decline

pedestrian crossingPedestrian deaths this year have jumped 34 percent statewide, the highest number of such fatalities in New Jersey since the turn of the century, state accident data shows. Through the end of September, 122 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle related incidents, according to statistics from the state police’s fatal accident investigation unit. During the first nine months of last year, there were 91 pedestrian fatalities. This comes in spite of a nearly $74 million pedestrian safety initiative Gov. Jon Corzine announced about six months after he took office in 2006. The governor said the five-year program would focus on enforcement, education and engineering by cracking down on motorists and pedestrian violations.

Pedestrian deaths in New Jersey declined from 166 that year to 138 last year.

“Since 2006, we’ve been seeing the pedestrian numbers starting to come down. This year we have this spike,” said Pam Fischer, director of the state Division of Highway Traffic Safety. “We’re hoping this is an anomaly.”

In just the past two weeks, at least five people were killed by motor vehicles. Four of the accidents occurred in suburban parts of the state.

Children, senior citizens and non-English speaking people walking in urban areas are generally considered to be the most at-risk groups of pedestrians, Fischer said. But state data shows that since 2003, middle-age pedestrians have consistently been the largest age group for pedestrian fatalities. Star Ledger

“They’re physically active,” Fischer said. “They’re able to get around. They’re not the vulnerable group you think about.”

Pedestrian advocates say New Jersey’s nearly fully-developed road system — much of which isn’t pedestrian friendly — can make walking precarious all over the state.

“Everyone walks, at some point. At some point, you have to get out of your car and get to where you’re going. But, in the past, highways and developments have been built in a way, it seemed, as if it was assumed as if people wouldn’t walk at all,” said Peter Bilton, a project manager with the New Jersey Pedestrian and Bicycle Resource Center, based at Rutgers University’s Edward J. Bloustein School of Public and Planning Policy.

Now, suburban residents are rallying for safer community streets.

At a recent council meeting in Summit, neighbors demanded more be done to improve the crossroad where Carlyse Kennedy, 55, was struck by a limousine service driver near Mountain Avenue and Devon Road on September 28. She died at the hospital the next day.

Patrick Hurley, who was acting as a representative for a group of neighbors, called for caution signs, reduced speed limits and more enforcement.

“The fact is the intersection is dangerous, and it’s deadly,” Hurley said of the the intersection, where five roads meet. “It was not a question if a fatal accident would happen at that intersection. It was a question of when. And that question was answered … when a resident of Summit was struck and killed by a car.”

To address the large number of fatalities, the state has funded local initiatives, including decoy programs in towns like Montclair and Denville, where officers pose as pedestrians in crosswalks and ticket drivers who fail to yield.

The state Department of Transportation has also completed 60 pedestrian safety projects, including new sidewalks, revamped crosswalks and new pedestrian crossing signs and countdown signals, throughout the state since 2007, state officials said.

State officials say such programs have had a positive effect. But the responsibility for preventing further pedestrian fatalities ultimately rests on people on the road.

“We really need to focus on getting both pedestrians and motorists to really think about what they are doing out there,” Fischer said. “We are all in a big hurry to get somewhere.”

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  1. I make a point of stopping for every pedestrian only to either get honked or passed by the car behind me threatening the safety of the person crossing. Or I sit there waiting as the person crossing stares at me not trusting that ia actually stopped for them. All we need are road signs in the middle of the street saying stop for pedestrians at major crossings. They have then in front of georgian court where there is very little walking traffic.

  2. anonymous @ 10:35 PM, That is very true. Also, just to make you feel a little bit better, if a cop sees someone going around you when you are stopped for a pedestrian, They get a 5 point penalty on their license. Not to mention other tickets they can get as well, such as aggressive driving and so on.

    I know there are going to be people on here complaining how the “pedestrians” are the ones who cause “most” of the trouble on the roadway. Sorry buddy, but as a driver you have the responsibility to watch for any sudden obstacles. Remember that you are in a 3000 + pound vehicle, the pedestrians are the vulnerable ones on the road, not you, the driver. Just a tip or two to be more cautious when driving, to avoid a tragedy. PLEASE drive the POSTED speed limit. Any faster, and you are putting lives at risk. PLEASE pay attention to your surroundings. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve nearly gotten hit by drivers turing left, when I as the pedestrian has a BIG “walking” sign, and a crosswalk. P.S. These things don’t happen at night, this is happening in broad daylight! There are NO excuses!

  3. Crosswalks are not a polite suggestion. Treat them as a red light if you see anyone even putting their foot in the road.I was even passed by a policeman once when I stopped for a person crossing at a crosswalk in downtown. That’s how uneducated our townis about pedestrian rights of way. I wanted to give him a ticket.

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