MONCLAIR – Police departments throughout Essex County today joined forces and went undercover to make the crosswalks safer for pedestrians on the Bloomfield Avenue corridor.
The selected departments that patrol Bloomfield Avenue participated in the pedestrian crosswalk decoy initiative called “Cops in Crosswalks.” In the initiative, undercover police officers acting as pedestrians are placed at crosswalks throughout a community. Motorists who fail to yield to the undercover officers crossing the street are stopped and either warned or ticketed by uniformed officers a short distance away.
“The Division sees pedestrian safety as a top priority both statewide and in Essex County,” said Division of Highway Traffic Safety Acting Director Gary Poedubicky. “This particular program serves dual functions as both an initiative to educate the public about our pedestrian laws and an enforcement program that will stop the dangerous driving behaviors of some motorists.”
Pedestrian fatalities account for about half of all motor vehicle deaths in Essex County, which ranks among the highest rate in New Jersey. Since 2011, 45 pedestrians have been killed on the roads in Essex County. One of the area’s most dangerous corridors for pedestrians is Bloomfield Avenue, which serves as a major artery between Newark and its surrounding communities.
Statewide, pedestrian fatalities have been rising steadily in the last three years. In 2012, 163 pedestrians were killed on New Jersey’s roadways. This year, 57 pedestrians have been killed, a rate slightly higher than last year’s.
After completing a training class, officers from the Newark, Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, East Orange and Montclair police departments were deployed to carry out pedestrian crosswalk decoy stings.
“Bloomfield Avenue is one of our county’s busiest and most dangerous roads for pedestrians,” said Essex County Community Transportation Safety Program Coordinator Arnold Anderson. “The implementation of this program should go a long way to making it safer for everyone that steps off the sidewalk and into a crosswalk.”
The program is funded by the Division of Highway Traffic Safety and is administered by the Essex County College Police Academy in Cedar Grove.
Motorists violating the pedestrian law face a $200 fine, plus court costs and fees, and two points on their driving record.
The Division offers the following safety tips for pedestrians:
Wear bright-colored, reflectorized clothing, especially at night.
Walk on sidewalks or paths and always cross at the corner, within marked crosswalks. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic and make eye contact with motorists.
Never cross mid-block (unless within a marked crosswalk), between parked cars or by climbing over median barriers.
Look left, then right and left again before crossing, and always be on the look-out for turning vehicles.
Continue to look for vehicles while crossing, even when in marked crosswalks.
Learn the proper use of “walk/don’t walk” signals and obey them.
Walk and cross with others, when possible.
Do not attempt to cross while talking or texting on a cell phone.
Try not to walk at night or in bad weather, such as rain, snow or ice.
- If you drink alcohol, have someone escort you to your front door.