TRENTON – Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino and the Division of Highway Traffic Safety are reminding motorists and pedestrians to exhibit caution when traveling this Thanksgiving weekend, traditionally one of the busiest and most dangerous on New Jersey’s roadways.
“If you’re on the road for Thanksgiving, you should make sure to not only obey the laws designed to keep people safe while driving, but also be on the lookout for those who are being reckless and dangerous,” said Attorney General Porrino. “Use caution on the roads, and don’t hesitate to report inattentive motorists when you see them.”
While Thanksgiving is a time of joy and family get-togethers, it is also a deadly and hazardous time to be behind the wheel. Last Thanksgiving weekend, seven people died, a decrease over the 15 who were killed during the five-day weekend in 2015. Of those seven, one was a pedestrian, and three of the deaths were the result of two crashes in which the driver was impaired by drugs or alcohol.
Distracted driving continues to be a major cause of both fatal and nonfatal crashes, said Gary Poedubicky, Acting Director of the Division of Highway Traffic Safety. The problem of drivers’ texting or talking on their cell phones while behind the wheel was the reason why New Jersey expanded the role of the #77 hotline in April to include the reporting of distracted driving as well as aggressive driving.
“The Division and Attorney General Porrino earlier this year took steps to make New Jersey’s roadways safer all throughout the year,” said Poedubicky. “We urge people during this weekend to use the #77 hotline to report distracted and dangerous driving when they see it. Their vigilance could help save someone else’s life.”
Under the new #77 system, motorists, passengers and pedestrians can report dangerous driving by calling the hotline and giving an operator as much information as possible, such as location, make, model, color and license plate of the vehicle and the behavior observed.
Since the new #77 initiative was introduced in April, more than 2,300 calls to the hotline concerning distracted driving have been received, according to State Police statistics. Overall, the #77 line has received more than 30,000 calls concerning aggressive and dangerous driving.
The Divisions of Highway Traffic Safety and State Police offered the following tips to ensure a safe Thanksgiving holiday.
- Always buckle up, every ride, regardless of your seating position in the vehicle. It’s your best defense against an impaired driver.
- Never consume alcohol and drive, and if you’re going to drink, arrange for a designated driver to take you home.
- Stay focused on the road. When you're behind the wheel, all other tasks – using your cell phone, eating or drinking, even tending to a crying child – must take a backseat. If there's something that needs your attention immediately, pull over before you address it.
- If you feel drowsy while driving, pull over and find a safe place to address your condition.
Never cross mid-block (unless within a marked crosswalk), between parked cars or by climbing over median barriers. This is not only unsafe, but against the law.
- Avoid walking home when you’re intoxicated. Alcohol impairment leads to risky behaviors like crossing against signals, or walking too close to oncoming traffic. If you’ve had too much to drink, have someone escort you home, or call a cab.
- Stay alert. Don’t talk or text on your cell phone while navigating through the streets. Pedestrian inattention is a common cause of pedestrian-motor vehicle conflicts.
- Wear bright-colored, reflectorized clothing, especially at night.
- Walk on sidewalks or paths and always cross at the corner, within marked crosswalks if provided. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic and make eye contact with motorists.
Follow the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office online at Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & YouTube. The social media links provided are for reference only. The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office does not endorse any non-governmental websites, companies or applications.