There were more pedestrian fatalities in NJ in 2009 even as the total number of traffic deaths fell, which was cause for concern, NJ State Police said. In the year to Dec. 27, 154 pedestrians died after being struck by vehicles in NJ, up 13 percent from 136 in the corresponding period of 2008, Det. Brian Polite of NJ State Police told Baristanet on Wednesday (Dec. 30).
Det. Polite said NJ State Police were concerned about the increase in the number of pedestrian deaths, possibly due to a rise in foot traffic over the year.
“We have a situation where more people are walking instead of driving, possibly due to the economy being the way it is; also the big push to energy conservation might have encouraged more pedestrians to walk,” he said.
In total, traffic accidents killed 578 people in the year to Dec. 27, down from 586 a year earlier, he said. Pedestrian deaths made up 26% of all traffic fatalities this year, up from 23%.
State Police are taking the matter seriously, Polite said, and detailed a number of safety tips for pedestrians.
“We want to encourage people to stay off the highways on foot,” he said. “If their vehicle is disabled and if they are safe to exit, they should get to a safe location like a road shoulder; often accidents happen when people get out of immobilised vehicles and get struck.”
Other tips from the State Police for pedestrians include:
-if your vehicle breaks down or a tire change needed in an unsafe location, call the police before attempting to get out of the vehicle
-cross at legal crossings
-inattention, due to listening to iPods and MP3 players and texting while walking, can cause accidents. Turn them off and be aware of your surroundings and traffic
-during the holiday season, there are more people walking while intoxicated; doing this in a busy environment can be as dangerous as DWI. Have a designated (sober) driver or walker accompany you home
-at train crossings, people often see the gate down and assume that it’s safe to cross or that they can beat the train. Don’t cross the rail track if the barrier is down
(The numbers above are accurate and differ slightly from recent reports in some other news sites as there were earlier discrepancies with final numbers, NJ State Police said.)