Essex County and six of its municipalities, including Montclair, are teaming up with the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority to try to reduce the number of accidents involving pedestrians on bustling Bloomfield Avenue.
The joint initiative, called the Street Smart NJ pedestrian safety education campaign, was unveiled last week at a press conference at the Bloomfield Town Hall.
Bloomfield Avenue is one of the busiest corridors in Essex County, according to officials. From 2011 through 2015 there were 256 pedestrians involved in crashes there, with three fatalities and 226 injuries.
Street Smart NJ , a collaboration between public, private and nonprofit organizations, encourages motorists, cyclists and pedestrians to obey the state’s pedestrian-safety laws. The campaign’s slogan is “Check Your Vital Signs,” meaning speed limit and stop signs for drivers, and walk/don’t walk signals and crosswalks for pedestrians. A fifth message, “Heads Up, Phones Down,” encourages motorists and pedestrians alike to avoid distractions.
The Essex County Sheriff’s Department will be supporting the campaign with educational and enforcement activities, and in addition to Montclair the towns of Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, Verona, Caldwell and West Caldwell are participating in the program.
Throughout the campaign, street signs, posters, safety-tip cards and other educational materials will be on display throughout the participating communities. Street Smart NJ coasters and coffee cup sleeves will be available as well. Police will be educating the public by distributing safety-tip cards and will conduct enforcement efforts to ensure motorists and pedestrians are following the law.
The Street Smart NJ campaign appears to have worked in the past. Evaluations of campaigns in 2016 found a 40 percent reduction in drivers failing to yield to crossing pedestrians or cyclists and a 28 percent reduction in pedestrians jaywalking or crossing against the signal, according to an NJTPA report at bestreetsmartnj.org.
New Jersey has been designated a focus state by the Federal Highway Administration because of its high incidence of injury and fatal motor vehicle crashes involving pedestrians. From 2011 to 2015, 765 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle crashes and more than 22,000 were injured, according to the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety.
The NJTPA is the metropolitan planning organization for 13 northern New Jersey counties.
— Linda Moss