New Jersey experiences a disproportionate number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities than the national average based on population rates.
Pedestrians, bikers, and motorists all have the responsibility of sharing the road. Motorists need to watch for pedestrians, and pedestrians need to watch for motorists – it is a two-way street! During the past several years, the number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities has increased. Add an augment in bike riders who are motivated to get in shape and decrease harmful emissions, and unless you are careful, you have the perfect storm for an accident.
What is the state of New Jersey doing to keep communities safe?
New Jersey experiences a disproportionate number of pedestrian injury crashes and fatalities than the national average based on population rates. To thwart this problem, the Division of Highway Traffic Safety assists local and county agencies in developing comprehensive pedestrian safety programs involving Education, Enforcement, and Engineering.
The pedestrian program’s education component involves getting the safety message to all members of the community with a special emphasis on three groups: children, senior citizens, and non-English speaking residents.
The Enforcement component involves regular police patrols to areas where accidents occur most frequently. The police issue warnings and talk to drivers about the risks of not respecting pedestrian traffic laws.
The Engineering component provides traffic engineering assistance such as building more overhead crosswalks, placing more pedestrian crossing signal lights, and adding signs with citizen input and suggestions as to where they would be most useful.
What Can Pedestrians Do To Stay Safe?
Make sure drivers can see you at all times – especially at night or in low-light conditions:
- Wear light-colored or reflective clothing.
- Stay in well-lit areas, especially when crossing the street.
- Make eye contact with drivers to make sure they see you.
As a pedestrian, your eyes and ears are your best safety tools. That means:
- Put down your phone. Smartphones and other electronics take your eyes and attention off the world around you. We have all seen those funny videos of pedestrians walking into fountains or light poles, but it is dangerous and could result in injuries.
- Avoid wearing headphones when walking, biking, or running. It’s important to hear what’s happening around you. Frequently riders will say, ”On the right/left.” To let you know on which side they are passing.
- Avoid alcohol –it impairs your judgment and slows your reaction time.
FOLLOW THE RULES
Learn and follow all traffic rules, signs, and signals. Remember, laws are designed for your safety:
- Cross at crosswalks. If there isn’t one, find a well-lit spot and wait for a long gap in traffic to cross safely.
- Use the sidewalk! If there is no sidewalk, walk on the far side of the road facing traffic to be visible.
- Avoid walking along highways where pedestrians are prohibited.
- Obey WALK/DON’T WALK signs. If the light is about to turn red, wait the extra seconds until it changes again. It seems like a long time to wait, but it is worth it to stay safe.
Some outdoor workers are pedestrians as well. They are often busy focusing on their work: carrying heavy or bulky items, giving instructions to heavy machinery operators or other workers. You must show extra caution around these people. They include:
- Sanitation workers
- Crossing Guards
- Police and Emergency Responders
- Crossing Guards
- Utility workers
- Construction workers
- Mail/Package carriers
What can Bikers do to stay safe?
Riding a bike is great exercise and an activity the whole family can enjoy. Like other activities, there are safety precautions you should take to avoid an injury or worse.
While injuries can happen anywhere, be especially cautious when riding on roadways where most bicycle-motor vehicle collisions occur. Follow these tips:
- Always wear an approved bicycle helmet (head injuries are the greatest risks for cyclists!)
- Obey all the traffic laws and use hand signals, so vehicles know where you are headed.
- Wear protective and reflective clothing for the best visibility.
- Make sure your bicycle has a headlight if riding at night.
- At night, use a reflective vest and additional lights on the back of your bicycle to make sure you are seen.
- Keep your eyes and ears open. Avoid using headphones and smartphones. You need to focus on what is around you, and music can be distracting.
- More than 70 percent of bicycle crashes occur at driveways or intersections. Before you enter any street or intersection, check for traffic. Always look left, right, and left again before proceeding into the intersection.
- Obviously, never get on a bicycle if you are impaired, such as if you have been drinking alcohol.
What can motorists do to keep bikers safe?
The number one culprit for accidents involving motor vehicles and bikers or pedestrians is distracted driving. Cell phones, video screens, eating, some people even put on makeup while driving! The next is being under the influence of alcohol as a biker, driver, or pedestrian causes thousands of accidents annually. You should never ride a bike, drive a car, or walk close to traffic if you are drinking alcohol.
Motorists have a duty of care to remain alert at the wheel and drive in a reasonably safe and careful manner. If a pedestrian or biker is struck by a driver who failed in that duty of care, the injured party may be able to seek compensation for his or her injuries resulting from the collision – or, in the case of a fatal accident, the person’s family may be able to seek damages for wrongful death. With the help of an experienced injury attorney, an injured pedestrian can obtain the compensation they deserve.