Posted Tuesday, March 29th, 2016
MORRIS COUNTY FREEHOLDER DIRECTOR KATHY DEFILLIPPO JOINS MAYOR DOUGHERTY AND ASSEMBLYMAN BUCCO IN PRAISING THE SAFETY CAMPAIGN
The Morris County Government Seat in Morristown is home to the latest efforts in the statewide Street Smart campaign. Speaking in front of town hall in Morristown today, officials and community stakeholders kicked off Street Smart Morristown, a month-long pedestrian safety campaign that will run through April.
At a press conference Tuesday morning, Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty, together with the Morristown Police Department, TransOptions, Morris County Board of Freeholders and state representatives and other important advocates launched the campaign, which is an effort that combines grassroots public awareness, educational outreach and high-visibility law enforcement to change behaviors as they relate to pedestrian safety.
“Education is one of the most important things that we can do for our community and those that come to enjoy our downtown,” Dougherty said. “It adds another level of greatness to our community in a sense that we look at every aspect, not just a development or a new restaurant or a new boutique, but how we make our quality of life the best it can be for the ones who live here and for the many thousands that come to visit.”
From 2013 to 2015, there were 51 pedestrian-related crashes in Morristown, including one fatal crash. Of those, 21 percent were a result of pedestrians jaywalking and 46 percent were a result of pedestrians being struck while crossing in a marked crosswalk.
Street Smart’s “check your vital signs” slogan emphasizes safe travel roles and responsibilities to both pedestrians and motorists alike. The vital signs are to be displayed on tip cards, posters, banners and street signs throughout the community and in local businesses as a visual reminder for drivers and pedestrians.
“Following these traffic laws “will go a long way towards achieving a goal of zero pedestrian deaths on our roadways,” said Trauma Program Coordinator Renay Durling-Grover, explaining that Morristown Medical Center saw an increase of 37 percent in pedestrian injuries in 2015.
When citing these statistics, Durling-Grover emphasized that “zero is the only acceptable number.”
TransOptions, a non-profit transportation organization, is leading the Street Smart effort in Morristown, after successfully completing similar campaigns in Newton, Sussex County, and Washington, Warren County, in the fall of 2015.
The North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) launched five pilot campaigns in various New Jersey towns over the last two years and kicked off a new round of campaigns in March of this year.
NJTPA and the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety are funding the efforts in Morristown. TransOptions is partnering with the Town of Morristown, the Morristown Police Department, the school district, as well as numerous local businesses and organizations.
“Morris County and the NJTPA have a long-standing commitment to make safety our number one transportation priority,” said Morris County Freeholder Director Kathy DeFillippo. “Since Morristown is the home to county government, drawing many thousands of people to Morristown each week, it’s vitally important to make sure our streets and pedestrian areas, especially around the county government complex and county courthouse, are well marked so we can better ensure the safety of our visitors and also for our county employees who come to work here every day.”
Assemblyman Anthony Bucco expanded on the need for raised awareness around pedestrian safety.
“Anything that we can do to educate people to make them understand that they’ve got to pay attention right up until the time they turn the ignition off on their cars, whatever we can do to make pedestrians realize that they not only have to look out for themselves, but for others, that’s a good thing and that’s exactly what this program will deliver to Morristown,” Bucco said.
“In a booming town like Morristown, it’s even more essential that drivers obey speed limits and stop for crossing pedestrians, and that pedestrians wait for the walk signal at intersections with traffic lights and refrain from jaywalking by using crosswalks.”
TransOptions will emphasize these ‘vital signs’ of the Street Smart campaign through education and outreach, while the Morristown Police Department will strictly enforce these laws.
Executive Director of the NJTPA, Mary K. Murphy, in highlighting the Street Smart efforts statewide, explained that the Federal Highway Administration has “designated New Jersey as a pedestrian focus state due to our very high rate of pedestrian-vehicle crashes.” From 2009‐2013, 697 pedestrians were killed and more than 22,000 were injured statewide.
“As we have done in several other towns, we are handling the education portion of the campaign, and pairing that outreach with surveys and observational analysis of pedestrian behavior in Morristown,” said Laura Cerutti, TransOptions’ Street Smart program manager.
“We hope to have a positive impact on safe-walking and safe-driving behaviors following the campaign,” Cerutti said. “You’ll see us out at intersections, at various community events and in the schools all throughout April, sharing safe walking tips and information about pedestrian laws.”
New Jersey has been named a focus state by the Federal Highway Administration. From 2009‐2013, 697 pedestrians were killed and more than 22,000 were injured statewide.