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How do New Jersey laws protect pedestrians from car accidents?

Perhaps it's our boardwalks and proximity to the seashore, but for whatever reason, New Jersey experiences a disproportionate amount of accidents involving vehicles and pedestrians than the national average. In an effort to counter these often fatal incidents, the Division of Highway Traffic Safety has unveiled a comprehensive strategy focused on education, enforcement and engineering.

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of the education component is getting New Jersey motorists to be aware that they must always stop for pedestrians who are crossing within a marked crosswalk. Motorists who ignore that rule can be subject to having two points added to their driving records, face fines of up to $200 with additional court costs, be ordered to participate in 15 days of community service activities and potentially experience an increase in their insurance rates.

To be fair, not all vehicle-pedestrian accidents are the fault of careless motorists. Pedestrian safety is a shared responsibility between both parties. For that reason, the DHTS also penalizes pedestrians who fail to observe the law. In New Jersey, pedestrians are required to use crosswalks and must obey signals at intersections containing signaling devices. Pedestrians failing to observe that law can be subject to a $54 fine.

As part of the DHTS education component, safety officials are working to target the pedestrians that are statistically more likely to be injured or killed by vehicles. Children, non-English-speaking residents and elderly people are particularly at risk of being struck by motor vehicles. DHTS has since enhanced their efforts to educate those segments of the population about pedestrian safety issues.

Some suggestions for enhanced pedestrian safety include walking only while sober, wearing bright or reflective clothing while walking and only crossing roads at intersections containing marked crosswalks.

There are several safety tips for drivers as well. Drivers are encouraged to obey speed limits, keep an eye out for pedestrians when attempting to make a right turns on red lights and remain vigilant at all times for the presence of pedestrian traffic.

Despite best efforts, the fact remains that each year in New Jersey, some pedestrians will become victims of motor vehicle accidents. If you have been hurt by a distracted or impaired driver, you may be entitled to sue those responsible for your injuries. In some cases, injured pedestrians can recover costs associated with their medical treatments plus any lost salary caused by their injuries.

Source: New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety, "Pedestrian Safety" Dec. 25, 2014

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