TRENTON – One year after state, county and municipal agencies banded together to focus on making Route 130 in Burlington County safer for pedestrians, data collected during the “Operation 130 Safe Passage” enforcement operation are suggesting positive safety trends for the busy highway.
Surveys conducted by local law enforcement before and after the implementation of the initiative showed sharp reductions in the rates of speeding (down 68 percent), distracted driving (81 percent) and other various infractions (80 percent). The 22.5-mile stretch of the road, which was the scene of 20 pedestrian fatalities from 2007 to the beginning of the mobilization, have experienced zero pedestrian deaths since Operation 130 Safe Passage began on May 13, 2013. There have been two fatal crashes during this time period in July 2013 and January 2014, neither involved pedestrians, but the circumstances of those deaths remain under investigation.
"These results show the strong, positive impact that law enforcement agencies can have when they work together proactively to address a tragic trend," said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. "We are going to take the valuable lessons learned through these efforts on Route 130 and continue to apply them wherever there is critical need to protect the public."
In this year-long span, Burlington County law enforcement agencies joined forces to conduct coordinated, proactive traffic enforcement operations along Route 130. The highway cuts a path through 11 municipalities: Bordentown City, Bordentown Twp., Mansfield, Florence, Burlington City, Burlington Twp., Edgewater Park, Willingboro, Delanco, Delran and Cinnaminson. Officers from each of those towns, along with the Riverside Police and the Burlington County Sheriff’s Department, all participated in the enforcement operations. The agencies signed shared services agreements, which allowed them to cross jurisdictions to enforce traffic laws. The Sheriff’s Department received a total of $225,000 from the Division of Highway Traffic Safety to administer the grant project through September 2014.
“The way to stop tragedies on our roadways is change the behaviors of those behind the wheel and the most effective way to do that is with high-visibility enforcement,” said Division of Highway Traffic Safety Acting Director Gary Poedubicky. “The message travels fast when police are visible and when drivers know laws are being enforced, their behavior starts to change.”
Local law enforcement officials believed that excessive speed was a major contributing factor to the tragedies. Immediately prior to enforcement activities, pre-operational traffic studies were conducted to assess the driving behavior along this highway. It was found that during the time school zone limits were in place in Burlington City, not one car was in compliance, and there were too many speeding vehicle to count. In fact, the slowest car was going 37 miles-per-hour (mph), and most vehicles were going in excess of 50 mph, in a 25 mph school zone. A school bus was recorded at 41 mph.
“This project has provided an unprecedented opportunity for Burlington County law enforcement agencies to work together to make our roadways safer,” said Burlington County Sheriff Jean Stanfield. “The public notices when an officer from another jurisdiction is writing tickets in a different town, and this new awareness increases compliance with motor vehicle laws.”
During this year-long stretch, the participating agencies have issued summonses for speeding (444), cell phone violations (346) and driving while intoxicated (37). More than 3,500 summonses and warnings were written in total.