WEST TRENTON – At the top of the New Jersey State Police’s 2011 holiday wish list is a safe and happy holiday season for the citizens of New Jersey. That includes a dramatic reduction in the traffic fatalities during the Christmas weekend period, especially pedestrian fatalities.
During the 2010 Christmas holiday driving period, there were six deaths. Tragically, five of those fatalities were pedestrians! And this does not stand alone as a statistical anomaly. Seven of the eight fatalities during the 2011 Thanksgiving Holiday period were pedestrians.
“All of us in New Jersey have the ability to do much better when it comes to reducing accidents. Holidays have proven to be particularly hazardous for pedestrians, so we’re encouraging everyone to adopt a ‘defensive walking’ mindset similar to defensive driving,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the State Police.
Defensive walking safety tips would include
- Be observant. When walking or exercising, maintain your situational awareness.
- Be alert for approaching vehicles as they may not be alert to your presence.
- Follow the laws. Don’t cross roadways except at appropriate locations and don’t trespass on roadways which prohibit pedestrians.
- Don’t walk/exercise distracted. Audio and communication devices can keep you from recognizing danger.
- Don’t use sound-blocking headphones to listen to music. It will obviously affect your ability to hear traffic coming.
- Don’t assume traffic will stop just because you enter a pedestrian crossing zone. There are many distracted drivers out there that won’t see you till it’s too late. Ensure traffic is stopping before you fully commit to a road crossing.
- Drunk walking may not have the same danger to innocent members of the public as driving under the influence, but it has proven to be extremely dangerous to pedestrians. Get a ride, plan to sleep over, or don’t drink to excess.
There will be a full compliment of troopers and Emergency Service Patrols to handle accidents and broken down vehicles during the holiday periods. If your vehicle becomes disabled, immediately pull as far off the traveled part of the road as possible and put your flashers on. If a crash or mechanical failure leaves your car in the lanes of travel, do not get out until you can see a clear break in traffic that enables you and your passengers to get completely off the road and to a safe location. Especially on icy roadways, minor crashes sometimes lead to serious injuries when occupants are standing around the scene of the accident as other traffic approaches.
The Christmas holiday period begins on Friday, Dec. 23 and runs through 6 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 27.
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