TRENTON– Attorney General Paula T. Dow, joined by members of the state and local police and traffic safety communities announced a variety of public awareness and enforcement efforts yesterday designed to ensure the safety of all who travel New Jersey’s roadways this summer.
“The 101 Days of Summer, from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekend, mark one of the busiest and most dangerous travel times of the year,” Dow said. “Whether you’re heading to the shore, or the mountains, today we’re reminding all motorists about the life-saving importance of good driving behaviors. That means following the posted speed limit and signs, never texting or using a hand-held cell phone while driving, and remaining courteous and alert to those who share the road with you, including pedestrians, bike riders and motorcyclists.”
According to Division of Highway Traffic Safety Acting Director Gary Poedubicky, “the summer season brings additional traffic to our roads and highways. Safe driving practices are the best way to deal with this increase. Always drive at a safe speed, try to remain calm behind the wheel, don’t tailgate, and never drink and drive.”
“Being safe and sober applies to every form of transportation in New Jersey. Whether people are driving, boating, biking, or even walking across intersections, they need to pay attention and avoid distractions,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “Our troopers will work vigilantly to keep Summer in our state as a season for responsible fun.”
Dow also stressed the importance of always buckling up, every ride, explaining that motor vehicle occupants who use a seat belt increase their chances of surviving a crash by as much as 75 percent.
“Buckling up is one of the most effective ways for motorists and passengers to stay safe in a vehicle,” Dow added. “Whether you’re in the front or rear seat, all motor vehicle occupants must buckle up. It’s the law, and it saves lives everyday.”
To spotlight this life-saving message, the annual Click It or Ticket campaign is currently underway this week through June 5 nationwide. This year the effort will again highlight nighttime belt use, as well as the importance of buckling up in the rear seat of a vehicle. Under the 2011 program, 142 police agencies will receive federal grants of $4,000 each from the Division of Highway Traffic to run the program, which includes checkpoints and roving patrols. The State Police will also participate in this initiative. In place since 1999, the national program also includes a public awareness and education campaign.
Last year, the front seat belt usage rate in New Jersey rose for the 14th consecutive year to 93.73%. New Jersey law enforcement and traffic safety officials want to ultimately see a 100 percent compliance rate. “New Jersey has a strong front seat belt usage rate, but there is still work to do,” Division of Highway Traffic Safety Acting Director Poedubicky explained. “To meet our goal, we must continue both enforcement and public outreach efforts that educate all motor vehicle occupants about the importance of buckling up, every ride.”
In addition to encouraging motorists and passengers to buckle up, officials discussed efforts to combat drunk and drugged driving, as well as motorcycle safety, distracted driving, and work zone safety.
“The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission wants to do its part to ensure that all New Jerseyans and visitors to our State remain safe on our roadways during the summer months, while enjoying all that our State has to offer,” said Motor Vehicle Commission Chief Administrator Raymond P. Martinez. “As motorists travel on our roadways, it is important to remember that with the warmer weather comes more complicated driving situations. Drivers need to be mindful of the many motorcycle riders, bicyclists, and pedestrians we share the road with each day. As the 101 Days of Summer begin, I encourage all motorists to be vigilant while behind the wheel, free from distractions, and above all to drive safely.”
The Motor Vehicle Commission, with the use of dedicated federal funding, has developed a comprehensive traffic safety public awareness and education campaign in order to heighten consciousness about motorcycle safety. Residents can expect to encounter motorcycle safety messages on You Tube, TV stations, radio, buses, toll booth ads, virtual message signs (VMS) on our highways and on several websites. By encouraging everyone to “Share the Road,” not drink and drive, have motorcyclists wear protective riding gear and take riding courses, the MVC hopes to help lower the number of traffic-related fatalities to zero.
“New Jersey is a great place to be year ’round, but especially in the summer,” said NJDOT Commissioner James Simpson. “Our terrific recreational and entertainment destinations create heavy travel demands on our roadways and public transportation systems, so it is especially important to exercise caution and follow the rules of the road whether you’re driving, bicycling, walking or jogging. Everyone can help make this a safe, sensational summer in the Garden State.”
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