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Poll: Is the 2010 Pedestrian Law Making a Difference?

Do New Jersey pedestrians and drivers observe the law in crosswalks?

According to a recent report by NJ.com, the New Jersey state law that requires motorists to stop rather than simply yield to pedestrians in crosswalks has been met with mixed results. 

After New Jersey experienced a disproportionate number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities, the state enacted the law in 2010 but, according to NJ.com's report, it hasn't been entirely effective. Fatalities are down, but some areas of New Jersey have still had deadly accidents in the crosswalks. 

According to Janna Chernetz who focuses on pedestrian safety as a New Jersey advocate for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a regional transportation policy watchdog group, drivers and pedestrians are both responsible for safety in crosswalks.

But while pedestrians should obey signals and use crosswalks at signalized intersections, drivers are the ones who are hit harder financially when they fail to comply. Motorists failing to stop for pedestrians can be fined $200, plus court costs, and receive two points on their licenses, while pedestrians failing to observe the road rules can be subject to a $54 fine.

The report details how a visit to Newark showed that both drivers and pedestrians are disregarding the law while an observation of traffic in Westfield illustrated that both motorists and walkers are attempting to comply.

"For every impatient driver (in Westfield) who failed to stop for pedestrians, there were nine who halted on cue," the report stated.

Have drivers in Westfield, Scotch Plains and other Union County towns become more observant of crosswalk safety in light recent accidents such as the January 2012 Westfield accident that claimed the life of Scotch Plains resident? (An a also resulted in the death of a pedestrian, but police report that victim "appeared to be distracted" while crossing the highway and that there was no wrongdoing or criminal activity on the part of the driver.)

On Jan. 25, Currie, 68, was killed in the crosswalk at North Avenue and Tuttle Parkway in Westfield after she struck a pedestrian and attempted to assist him by leading him across the roadway. On June 20, Westfield residents  were charged with vehicular homicide and assault by auto and second degree leaving the scene of an accident, respectively. Initially, both men were charged with driving while intoxicated, failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, and reckless driving.

In August 2009, Gina Marotta, 25, of Clark, an employee of Lord & Taylor was struck by a motorist while crossing North Avenue. She suffered a broken arm, broken leg and head injuries. Union County Prosecutor Theodore Romankow said that the police investigation showed that the driver,  of Westfield, had a blood alcohol content that was higher than the legal limit of .08-percent at the time of the accident. 

Several years earlier, a Lord & Taylor employee was killed while using the same crosswalk. At an of the Westfield Town Council, the council approved a pedestrian activated HAWK signal to be placed at North Avenue West between Charles and Clark Streets. 

Oi Oi Oi July 12, 2012 at 08:54 AM
I'm not from NJ (or the US) originally and what I've noticed is the laws are breeding and encouraging stupid pedestrians. As a child it was drummed into us at school "look left, look, right before you cross the road". That mantra left most of those smart enough to listen to this safe and happily still alive today. It leaves me baffled everyday I drive to work seeing ignorant people wandering across the road like cattle that escaped from the farm. No idea on self preservation. People from children to adults seem to have no understanding of the pedestrian laws here and flaunt drivers fear of hitting them. Some of the drivers show the same lack of understanding of the laws. I encounter the same scenario most mornings on my travel to work. A group of children will be trying to cross the road that is neither a crosswalk or an intersection. At home, you wait for a clearing in the traffic, look left, look right and proceed when safe to do so. Oh no, these kids are so lacking in any education on how to cross the road that sit there like dumb sheep until traffic in both directions comes to a standstill to let them cross. Meanwhile the soccer mum who's too busy playing on her iphone updating facebook dropping young Johny and Shara off to school nearly rams into the back of me because of the unexpected stop in traffic flow.
Oi Oi Oi July 12, 2012 at 08:55 AM
continued; There are so many other examples why I think the laws here in NJ should swing towards the driver and place more responsibility on the pedestrian, I don't have space to express it here.
sp resident July 12, 2012 at 01:16 PM
Unfortunately my experiences are different, maybe it could be the town you're driving in. But I have seen numerous pedestrians doing the right thing looking left and right etc..,waiting in the crosswalk and no cars will stop for them until I do! And I have also experience being pedestrian doing the right thing and no one will stop! Yes there are many people who will just cross the road without looking, cross when the light is green,walk slowly on the road while you're driving behind them I could give you more, but numerous drivers are also impatient . Both are to blame, but when I'm in the crosswalk waiting to cross the road, and I have a law that says you must stop, STOP!
march July 12, 2012 at 08:09 PM
The present law creates a mindset like the one you just expressed. YOU have a law that says people must stop...that is ridiculous. Midway, Martine, North, South - pedestrians habitually cross these roads against the lights (meaning I have a green light and they cross right in front of me) and I have to stop because they are standing in the crosswalk. Why bother having a green, amber or red light? It creates a situation where pedestrians feel like they have the "Law behind them" no matter when or where they cross. It leads to cars slamming on their brakes and/or drivers who are behind decelerating vehicles attempting to go around them and nearly hitting the pedestrians who SHOULD BE WAITING FOR A SAFE TIME TO CROSS. The next law will provide designated crossers who hold pedestrian's hand as they cross each street. Or perhaps we can hold people accountable for knowing how to cross a street - it is something we should have learned how to do in kindergarten.
splongtimer2 July 12, 2012 at 10:40 PM
I disagree with OI OI OI. The reference he made to looking both ways was when the pedestrian was on the defensive in crossing the streets. The pedestrian crosswalks are there to give them the right of way and require the cars to stop. It's the driver's responsibility by law to watch and give the pedestrian in the cross walk the right of way. Now I've come out of the Scotch Plains Post Office and should be able to walk directly across the street. If I ever did that I wouldn't be here to tell about it. Most of the drivers coming down Park Ave have no regard for the crosswalks and drive right through. So in this location the crosswalk serves no purpose since the pedestrian still has to wait until the cars are clear before crossing.
Oi Oi Oi July 12, 2012 at 11:30 PM
splong, whilst you should be able to just walk out at a cross walk, it would be a stupid idea to do so without being defensive and exercising self preservation by checking to make sure the oncomming vehicle has seen you. It's this sense of "it's the law" I see from pedestrians that explains why the pedestrian death toll in the US is at ~ 2.5% per 100000 vs 0.9% in Australia which is where my experience is based. http://www.ccypcg.qld.gov.au/pdf/publications/reports/annual_report_dcyp_2008-2009/AllDeathsReport09-Chapter-03.pdf - table 3.1 "13 States experienced pedestrian fatalities above 150 per year and above the national rate of 2.5 per 100,000 population. In 2003 those States were Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas." http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/publicroads/12janfeb/03.cfm Also, can someone explain why people wait 30+ seconds at the crosswalk until cars arriver there making them stop and just not crossing the road when it was clear? Simply, the laws here in NJ are the wrong way around and it would seem the eduction on how to cross the road safely is very poor at best.
Marshall Krugman July 19, 2012 at 06:05 PM
I need some clarification re: the crosswalk law. Is the motorist supposed to stop only when a pedestrian is present or simply supposed to stop, period, just as one would do at a stop sign whether or not a pedestrian is present?
Oi Oi Oi July 19, 2012 at 10:33 PM
Marshall, is this a serious question? If you have a license I would suggest you either get some driving lessons from a professional or hand it into the authorities. People with no understanding of this basic traffic law have no right to be on the road. You stop when a pedestrian is trying to cross. You DON'T stop at a crossing with no one there! Wow!

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