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Pedestrian safety program aims to reduce serious injuries

We've all done it. Jaywalking is probably the only crime any of us will ever commit without feeling even a hint of remorse. That is part of the problem according to a spokesperson for the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority. The organization is unrolling a new initiative called "Street Smart NJ," which combines a public awareness campaign that uses a grassroots community outreach approach. It also relies on the participation of local law enforcement. The spokesperson says that for pedestrians, the main changes they can make to improve safety is to use crosswalks and wait for the walk signal to change before they start crossing the street.

For drivers, he says the NJTPA wants them to always stop for pedestrians using the crosswalks. It sounds obvious, but apparently, drivers sometimes don't wait for the pedestrian to get all the way through the crosswalk before making a turn.

According to statistics provided by the program, New Jersey ranks 14th nationally in pedestrian fatalities. Street Smart advocates say that curbing behaviors like jaywalking and drivers not letting pedestrians get through the crosswalk can improve safety numbers between 10 to 35 percent.

In addition to the Long Beach Island, New Jersey community pilot programs of the Street Smart programs have also begun in Jersey City, Newark, Woodbridge and Hackettstown.

Pedestrians who are hit by cars can experience life-altering, serious injuries in the blink of an eye. A pedestrian victim of a car traveling at even moderate speeds can suffer broken bones, head and spinal injuries and other extensive injuries that may take years to heal. Medical costs can soar as a result of the often-needed physical rehabilitation. Pedestrian victims of car crashes should know that they may be entitled to sue for compensation if the person who caused their injuries was operating their vehicle in a negligent manner.

Source: New Jersey 101.5, "Pedestrian safety program moves to shore" Rosetta Key, Jun. 19, 2014

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