WEST TRENTON — Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, announced increased patrols across the state to enforce the laws and aid holiday travelers this Labor Day weekend. To ensure that drivers are following the rules of the road, troopers will conduct highly visible patrols to deter unsafe driving. In addition to the regularly scheduled patrols, The New Jersey State Police will have over 150 extra troopers on patrol working various traffic and DWI details.
“Drivers are not only responsible for their actions behind the wheel, but they are also responsible for the safety of passengers who are in the vehicle with them,” Fuentes said. “Those who choose to engage in dangerous driving activities, such as distracted driving and driving while intoxicated, will be held accountable for their actions.”
Each year in New Jersey, emergency responder vehicles are struck by passing motorists while on car stops or at the scene of traffic accidents. Fuentes reminds motorists to obey the “Move Over Law” enacted in 2009, to protect New Jersey’s first responders. The law requires motorists approaching stationary emergency vehicles, tow trucks, highway maintenance or emergency service vehicles with their emergency lights activated to do so with caution, specifically by moving over one lane, or by slowing down below the speed limit if a lane change is not possible. Additional signs will be in place on New Jersey’s roadways to increase awareness of the Move Over Law. A violation of this law can result in a fine of up to $500.
An important factor contributing to accidents is fatigue. Many travelers try to squeeze every last minute out of the Labor Day weekend and end up driving while exhausted. To help eliminate fatigue, know your route of travel and make frequent stops. During long holiday weekends, fatigue often contributes to crashes.
Inattentive driving is perhaps the single most unreported factor leading to motor vehicle crashes. Texting and handheld mobile device usage are illegal in New Jersey and many other states, but it’s still common to see people violating these laws when police are not around. There are a variety of unmarked State Police vehicles being used by uniformed troopers, so the only sure way to avoid a ticket is to use only phones equipped for hands-free operation. Other common distractions include map reading, sound system adjustments, built-in video/game monitors, and dealing with children in the back seat.
The State Police will continue to target drivers and their passengers who are not wearing seat belts, including children not properly secured in approved child restraint safety seats. More than half of the traffic fatalities in the state come from occupants who are not wearing seat belts.
State and local law enforcement will this weekend be conducting the annual “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” drunk driving mobilization. This initiative, funded by the Division of Highway Traffic Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), specifically targets the busy Labor Day Weekend period because of the historically high drunk driving incidences during that period.
Although data from NHTSA shows the number of alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities in New Jersey have been falling, Division of Highway Traffic Safety Acting Director Gary Poedubicky said the numbers are still too high.
“Drunk driving can result in needless loss of life and is completely preventable. If you plan on drinking this weekend, hand your keys over to a friend, take public transportation or if possible, walk home,” Poedubicky said. “If you decide to do otherwise, the consequences and penalties are harsh. If law enforcement finds you driving impaired, whether by alcohol or drugs, they will arrest you. No exceptions.”
The 2012 Labor Day Holiday officially begins at 6 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 31 and continues through 5:59 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 4. During the previous Labor Day holiday, four persons lost their lives in accidents on New Jersey roadways. Fuentes hopes that the public will continue to do their part to reduce traffic fatalities.
In addition to increased land-based safety responsibilities, personnel assigned to the State Police Marine Bureau will be patrolling all the waterways for the remainder of the summer boating season. Enforcement activities will focus on boaters drinking alcohol and persons recklessly operating personal watercraft (jet skis) and other powered vessels. Marine troopers will also be checking to see that boat operators have obtained the proper licenses to operate watercraft. A synopsis of boating requirements can be found on the State Police website at www.njsp.org under boating safety.
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