Officials Urge Travelers To Be Safe This Thanksgiving

TRENTON – The Division of Highway Traffic Safety is urging motorists and pedestrians alike to be alert during the busy Thanksgiving travel period, as a concerning trend is showing that those on their feet are at an increased risk on New Jerseys roadways.

During last year’s five-day Thanksgiving holiday period, 11 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes in New Jersey. Six of those deaths were pedestrians and four of those were under the influence of either drugs or alcohol. And while the state has seen an overall decrease in motor vehicle fatalities from last year to this point (546 to 514), pedestrian deaths have spiked by 15 percent to 136.

“We are concerned by the recent trend in pedestrian fatalities and are asking motorists and pedestrians to be mindful of each other on the roads,” said Division of Highway Traffic Safety Acting Director Gary Poedubicky. “Both groups share a responsibility to follow our laws. Drivers need to stop and stay stopped for pedestrians at crosswalks and pedestrians should only cross at crosswalks. Obeying the law will help ensure a safe holiday season”

Motorists violating the state’s pedestrian law face a $200 fine, plus court costs, and 2 points on their license. They can also be subject to 15 days of community service and insurance surcharges. Pedestrians may also be cited under state law for failing to use due care when crossing. The law requires them to obey pedestrian signals and use crosswalks at signalized intersections as well as yield the right of way to traffic if they are not crossing within a crosswalk or at an intersection. Failure to comply with the law carries a $54 fine, plus court costs.

The Division of State Police will be patrolling the state’s highways during the upcoming busy period and it is calling for motorists to follow New Jersey’s Move Over Law. The Move Over Law requires drivers approaching stationary emergency vehicles, tow trucks and other highway safety vehicles that display red, blue and/or amber flashing lights to move over one lane or, if not safe to move over, then slow down below the posted speed limit. Failing to obey the law can result in fines of up to $500.

“We have seen the worst in natural disasters followed by the best in generous and caring behavior from New Jerseyans. I sincerely hope that this attitude carries over to how we drive this Thanksgiving weekend,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. He urges drivers to: “Drive considerately, drive sober, and protect emergency workers by moving over one lane and slowing down.”

The Divisions of Highway Traffic Safety and State Police offered the following tips to ensure a safe Thanksgiving holiday for motorists:

  • Always buckle up, every ride, regardless of your seating position in the vehicle. It’s your best defense against an impaired driver.
  • Never consume alcohol and drive, and if you’re going to drink, arrange for a designated driver to take you home.
  • Report impaired drivers to law enforcement. In New Jersey, drivers may dial #77 to report a drunk or aggressive driver.
  • If you feel drowsy while driving, pull over and find a safe place to address your condition.

For pedestrians:

  • Wear bright-colored, reflectorized clothing, especially at night.
  • Walk on sidewalks or paths and always cross at the corner, within marked crosswalks if provided. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic and make eye contact with motorists.
  • Never cross mid-block (unless within a marked crosswalk), between parked cars or by climbing over median barriers. This is not only unsafe, but against the law.
  • Do not attempt to cross while talking or texting on a cell phone. Pedestrian inattention is a common cause of pedestrian-motor vehicle conflicts.
  • If you drink alcohol, have someone escort you to your front door.

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