Newark planning measures to curb soaring pedestrian fatality rate

By Dan Ivers | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on September 24, 2014

In this 2010 file photo, a pedestrian crosses intersection of 2nd Avenue and Mt. Prospect Place in Newark. Officials are planning to crack down on street safety laws during October to help bring down the city's high rate of pedestrian injuries and deaths

 

NEWARK — City officials are preparing to crack down on what they say is an alarmingly high rate of accidents involving pedestrians that has claimed dozens of lives over recent years.

Throughout October, police will be stepping up enforcement measures at so-called “hot spots” around the city where a high number of pedestrian injuries occur. The city will also use banners, posters, handouts and other materials to remind walkers and drivers to use and observe crosswalks, obey speed limits and take other precautionary measures.

“Even one death is too many,” Baraka said in a statement announcing the initiative. “The endgame is to prevent crashes and save lives. I urge our residents to learn from this campaign, and make these simple concepts part of their lives.”

Newark has the dubious distinction of having the highest rate of pedestrian fatalities in the state – 27 of the 1,863 recorded in the city between 2009 and 2011 resulted in loss of life – which prompted the Federal Highway Administration to make it a “focus” city where measures to protect pedestrians were recommended.

The state as a whole ranks 14th in pedestrian deaths, by virtue of a 23 percent fatality rate that is double the national average.

Mehdi Mohammadish, Newark’s Acting Engineering Director, said police enforcement measures will focus primarily on ensuring driver stop for pedestrian in crosswalks.

In 2010, the state revised a law to require drivers to come to a complete stop as soon as a pedestrian enters a crosswalk. Previously, drivers had only been mandated to yield, an ambiguous direction authorities say lead to one of the highest rates of pedestrian fatalities in the nation.

Officers will also be on the lookout for speeding, illegal turns and distracted driving over the course of the month.

“We need the support of all Newark residents and visitors to reduce the number of crashes and fatalities on our streets,” he said.

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