The Star Ledger reported on Jan 1, 2014 that traffic deaths in New Jersey reached the lowest point since the State Police began keeping records in the 1940s. Preliminary numbers reported by the agency show 542 traffic deaths in 2013. The article then goes on to state the breakdown of deaths: 304 drivers, 131 pedestrians, 93 passengers, and 14 bicyclists.
This comes to 26.8% of traffic deaths in 2013 in New Jersey occurring to vulnerable road users: those who were not in a motorized vehicle when they were killed. This has been NJ’s bicyclist and pedestrian fatality rate at least since 2010.
New Jersey DOT and legislators need to step up efforts to reduce that rate. Supporting the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act (HR3494 and S1708) is a good first step; this Act, co-sponsored by NJ Rep. Albio Sires (D-8), will require each state to set a safety performance goal for non-motorized road users, and will hold the states accountable for meeting that goal. In December, Senator Menendez signed on as a co-sponsor of this bill.
Other bills sitting in the state legislature need to become law. The Vulnerable Road User bill (s2774 and A4063), co-sponsored by Senator Diane Allen and Assemblymembers Troy Singleton, Herb Conaway and Grace Spencer, would provide stiffer penalties when pedestrians, bicyclists, and other non-motorized road users are injured or killed. The Move-Over bill (A4059), also sponsored by Assemblywoman Spencer, would provide penalties for drivers who do not move over when they pass a vulnerable road user; this bill would mirror the Move-Over law that currently protects police officers, emergency personnel and maintenance vehicles when they are in the road shoulder.
Continued implementation of road infrastructure that protects VRUs also needs to continue. This includes crosswalks, sidewalks, bike lanes, curb bumpouts and other Complete Streets components.
Posted by Cyndi Steiner/NJBWC