An Assembly panel on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, Daniel Benson, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Tim Eustace creating a Pedestrian Safety Study Commission to help improve pedestrian safety in New Jersey.
"New Jersey, because of its high density, has one of the biggest causes for concern when it comes to pedestrian safety," said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). "Whether it's urban, suburban or rural, every area of our state has its own unique set of issues that threatens pedestrian safety. This commission will be tasked with finding solutions to make New Jersey a more pedestrian-friendly state."
"For a variety of reasons, older adults and children are most at risk for pedestrian injuries and deaths," said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). "It's my hope that this commission will examine the causes and find ways to prevent tragedies and minimize injuries to some of our most vulnerable residents."
According to the CDC, 4,743 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in the United States in 2012, and another 76,000 pedestrians were injured.
The 15-member Pedestrian Safety Study Commission created under the bill (A-3888/S-2521) would be charged with studying, analyzing and reporting on:
- the rights, duties, and responsibilities of pedestrians and motorists;
- the availability and effectiveness of driving education and training programs for New Jersey's drivers;
- the type of motor vehicle violations, including excessive speed, that are contributing factors in pedestrian accidents;
- municipal planning practices, especially concerning pedestrian facilities and adequate sidewalks, lighting, and pedestrian waiting areas or safety zones;
- state planning processes, including pedestrian facilities;
- current applicable speed limits and the need to lower those speed limits in certain locations in keeping with pedestrian safety and traffic movement;
- the use and effectiveness of public awareness campaigns on the issue of pedestrian safety;
- additional legislative and regulatory solutions, including the imposition of fines for violating applicable pedestrian laws; and
- other issues and matters as the commission may deem appropriate to fulfill the scope of its charge.
"Sadly, New Jersey has a disproportionate number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities compared to the national average," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "This begs for greater attention and it's my hope that this commission will produce workable solutions to help improve public safety."
"Pedestrian safety is a two-way street, pun intended," said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). "Motorists and pedestrians both bear responsibility, as do law enforcement and government. We need to find ways to work together to better improve safety throughout our state."
The commission would consist of the Commissioner of Transportation; the Chief Administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission; the Director of the Division of Highway Traffic Safety; or their designated representatives; four members of the public to be appointed by the Governor, one upon the recommendation of the AAA Clubs of New Jersey, one upon the recommendation of the State League of Municipalities, one upon the recommendation of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce; and one who has demonstrated interest in education, advocacy, and work on behalf of issues facing senior citizens in the state; four members to be appointed by the Senate President, of whom one shall be a member of the Senate and no more than two of whom may be of the same political party; and four members to be appointed by the Speaker of the General Assembly, of whom one shall be a member of the General Assembly and no more than two of whom may be of the same political party.
The study commission will issue its findings, conclusions, and recommendations in an initial report to the Governor and the Legislature no later than one year following the first organizational meeting of the commission, and thereafter, for the next five years, submit an annual report to the Governor and Legislature. The study commission will expire upon the submission of the final report in the sixth year after its creation.
The bill was approved by the Assembly Transportation Committee