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Poll: Is the 2010 Pedestrian Law Making a Difference?

Do Westfield's pedestrians and drivers observe the law in crosswalks?

According to a recent report by NJ.com, the New Jersey state law that requires motorists to stop rather than simply yield to pedestrians in crosswalks has been met with mixed results. 

After New Jersey experienced a disproportionate number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities, the state enacted the law in 2010 but, according to NJ.com's report, it hasn't been entirely effective. Fatalities are down, but some areas of New Jersey, including Westfield, have still had deadly accidents in the crosswalks. 

According to Janna Chernetz who focuses on pedestrian safety as a New Jersey advocate for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a regional transportation policy watchdog group, drivers and pedestrians are both responsible for safety in crosswalks.

But while pedestrians should obey signals and use crosswalks at signalized intersections, drivers are the ones who are hit harder financially when they fail to comply. Motorists failing to stop for pedestrians can be fined $200, plus court costs, and receive two points on their licenses, while pedestrians failing to observe the road rules can be subject to a $54 fine.

The report details how a visit to Newark showed that both drivers and pedestrians are disregarding the law while an observation of traffic in Westfield illustrated that both motorists and walkers are attempting to comply.

"For every impatient driver (in Westfield) who failed to stop for pedestrians, there were nine who halted on cue," the report stated.

Have drivers in Westfield become more observant of crosswalk safety in light of the January 2012 accident that claimed the life of Scotch Plains resident?

On Jan. 25, Currie, 68, was killed in the crosswalk at North Avenue and Tuttle Parkway after she struck a pedestrian and attempted to assist him by leading him across the roadway. On June 20, Westfield residents  were charged with vehicular homicide and assault by auto and second degree leaving the scene of an accident, respectively. Initially, both men were charged with driving while intoxicated, failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, and reckless driving.

In August 2009, Gina Marotta, 25, of Clark, an employee of Lord & Taylor was struck by a motorist while crossing North Avenue. She suffered a broken arm, broken leg and head injuries. Union County Prosecutor Theodore Romankow said that the police investigation showed that the driver,  of Westfield, had a blood alcohol content that was higher than the legal limit of .08-percent at the time of the accident. 

Several years earlier, a Lord & Taylor employee was killed while using the same crosswalk. At an Aof the Westfield Town Council, the council approved a pedestrian activated HAWK signal to be placed at North Avenue West between Charles and Clark Streets. 

JC July 10, 2012 at 12:03 PM
When l lived in AZ in the late 70's, they already had this law and it was complied with. When I moved back to NJ I continued to do so remembering from my driver's ed classes that pedestrians always had the right of way. I didn't realize NJ enacted a new specific law to enforce this, only that suddenly those annoying, but effective signs were placed at crosswalks. It is safer for pedestrians now with the attention the signs bring to remind drivers of this. However pedestrians still need to exercise caution. I have observered pedestrians walk right out onto the street at crosswalks without checking for cars simply because they expect drivers will stop. At times a car can be so close that it can't stop in time. Pedestrians that do this asserting their right, are just as dead or injured as if they were wrong.
sp resident July 10, 2012 at 12:21 PM
This law is useless! Most drivers do not stop and do not want to stop. I have waited in the crosswalks numerous times until the fifth or sixth vehicle drove by and then someone may stop, or I have to actually attempt to walk into the crosswalk with the car inches away from me and then the next vehicle will stop. No one has any regard for this nonsense law and any courtesy anymore!
Ricky L. July 10, 2012 at 02:36 PM
There has been a small improvement in driver awareness, but not much. There should be a weekly dedicated enforcement of the law for both non-compliant drivers and jay-walking pedestrians, moving from location to location throughout the Town. Perhaps, after a few months, people will come to understand the law.
MBS July 10, 2012 at 02:58 PM
As a frequent Westfield, NJ visitor for a fine meal, shopping or simply for a nice stroll it would be my opinion that the law is a recipe for trouble and putting folks directly into harms way. Just this past weekend while in Westfield with my partner at Starbucks we stepped into the walkway only to abruptly jump back away from on oncoming van "speeding" up the road with absolutely no intention of stopping. As a pedestrian you believe that the oncoming folks are going to stop and it is simply not the case. On the flip side, Westfield police certainly take the meter laws very seriously and hand out parking tickets very readily. Perhaps they could better use their time by directing traffic for a season to let drivers know that there are penalties for potentially running someone down instead of waiting until there is a fatality involved. Try sitting outside at Sweetwaters and watching the intersection and just how many times the cars are moving too quickly to stop, even if they desired to stop. Westfield is a great town but this law is horrible and dangerous to anyone who believes that the oncoming drivers will adhere to the regs!
JERSEY GIRL July 10, 2012 at 04:10 PM
I dont think the law is working in Westfield, funny that the Star Ledger printed an article over the weekend stating that it is- Too many times, cars are flying through the crosswalk while people are at the curb. Again, in front of the armory during school hours, cars do not stop to let students cross. Even if i stop my car in front of that crosswalk for students to get to the other side, there is always a motorist trying to go around me. We need an officer there next year. Also, there is an issue with people jaywalking on South ave across from the train station and crossing on the "red hand". They should NOT be crossing at this time, Some woman had the nerve to give me a hand jesture as she was crossing against the light- i pointed to the light to show her she was in error, not me. And can something be done about the all the cell phone usage while driving? If i see it, dont the police see it?
1aokmom July 10, 2012 at 05:15 PM
I think motorists are better at stopping at crosswalks in and near town, but that's it... For every impatient driver (in Westfield) who failed to stop for pedestrians, there were nine who halted on cue," ??????where were they standing 'cause I want to cross there!
Kathy July 10, 2012 at 05:43 PM
I see motorists stop for pedestrians most of the time. When I cross, I always make sure they stop before I cross. My big bone of contention is that people think that just because there is a crosswalk, they can cross, even if they are at a traffic light that is red. The traffic light trumps the crosswalk. If the light is red, don't cross.
robert d hild July 11, 2012 at 03:14 AM
I either walk or ride my bicycle, mostly in Westfield and Garwood, every day, and I can tell you for a fact that most drivers do not respect walkers or riders when in a crosswalk. I can also tell you that there are a lot of sidewalks in town (Westfield) that force me onto the street when walking because they are dangerous and unsafe to walk on. Tree branches and overgrown bushes are another problem. Perhaps some of our public officials should walk or bike around town so that hey can better appreciate the problems walkers and riders face.
allen aid July 12, 2012 at 07:56 PM
bike riders are such a pain. they ride in the middle of the road as if they were a car and then dont follow signs and go through red lights. either you obey the laws like a car or get out of the road. so annoying some bikers deserve to get clipped.
KWC July 12, 2012 at 10:26 PM
Hopefully compliance with the law will improve as there are more and more drivers on the road who learned about it as part of driver's ed. It's more likely that people who learn the rule when they start driving will obey it than that long-time drivers will modify their habits when a law is passed.

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