Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura has announced the conclusion of the Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Operation throughout all of the county’s 22 municipalities. The sheriff said this initiative, funded by grants awarded by the New Jersey Attorney General’s office and the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety (NJHTS), was undertaken to prevent further deaths and injuries to pedestrians and bystanders.
“This year, Essex County leads the state in pedestrian fatalities and the number of persons killed or maimed as the direct result of drivers failing to adhere to pedestrians is truly staggering,” Fontoura stated. “Our goal with this initiative has been to lower the pedestrian fatality and injury risk.”
In the past, over 24 town and county police departments have participated in the “Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Operation” and while traffic stops have been made in Essex County communities such as Verona, Orange and Nutley, Newark continues to be a priority by the State’s Attorney General’s office due to its high crash fatality rate.
The most recent statistics reveal that 175 pedestrians were killed in New Jersey in 2018 and while total traffic fatalities are down across the country, distracted driving-related pedestrian deaths have increased by 35 percent over the last decade.
“The most important thing is for drivers to pay attention while driving and remember that it is a New Jersey state law to stop for pedestrians at crosswalks,” The sheriff noted.
Sheriff Fontoura added that since the operation began in October 2018, over 900 motor vehicle summons have been issued to help protect pedestrian safety. Additionally, studies conducted in the last several decades have shown police operations focused on pedestrian safety have helped dramatically.
“Many drivers forget that when they are behind the wheel, they are operating a weapon,” Fontoura pointed out. “These programs are one tool in the educational process of safe driving. The more that we can teach the community, the safer the roads throughout our great State can be.”