Bill Package Focuses on Education, Enhanced Engineering & Enforcement
(TRENTON) - An ambitious bill package sponsored by Assemblymen Troy Singleton and Herb Conaway, Jr. M.D. (both D-Burlington) to boost pedestrian safety throughout New Jersey was approved by an Assembly panel on Monday.
The two-bill package would sharply stiffen fines and penalties for pedestrian-related motor vehicle accidents in order to help fund what the lawmakers view as the three critical E's to improving pedestrian safety - education, enhanced engineering and enforcement.
"There are many roads throughout our state that remain very pedestrian-unfriendly, however Route 130 in Burlington County has the unfortunate distinction of being one of the most dangerous corridors in our state," said Singleton. "Since it was first constructed, changing demographics and population density have made it a hindrance to public safety. These bills will help raise awareness and boost education on pedestrian safety while funding improvements to make many of our highways more pedestrian-friendly."
"Whether its Burlington or Bergen County, there's no denying that we live in the most densely populated state in the country," said Conaway. "This presents a dilemma when it comes to balancing the desire to accommodate motorists with the need to protect pedestrians, particularly school children. I think we've found a healthy balance in these bills that will combine education with roadway improvements to facilitate both desires."
Noting the high number of fatalities along Route 130 in Burlington County, considered the state's most dangerous corridor, the lawmakers designed the bills to enhance protection for pedestrians traversing intersections and using crosswalks by increasing penalties for moving violations involving pedestrians.
The first bill (A-4064) would increase fines for violations concerning pedestrians in intersections to $250, $150 of which would be deposited into the "Pedestrian Safety Enforcement and Education Fund" and $50 of the $150 deposited into the fund would be dedicated to initiatives on high priority roadways. Current fines for these violations range from $54-$200.
The bill defines a "high priority roadway" as a highway on which there were more than four pedestrian fatalities in the previous calendar year or more than eight pedestrian fatalities in the prior three calendar years.
The second bill (A-4065) would require that 10 percent of all fines, penalties, and forfeitures imposed and collected for motor vehicle violations be forwarded to the Department of the Treasury for deposit in the "State Safe Routes to School Fund." When appropriating the funds, preference would be given to local governments or school districts that have implemented initiatives on high priority roadways.
The measures were approved by the Assembly Transportation Committee and now await consideration by the full Assembly.