A surprisingly high percentage of traffic accidents involve pedestrians. In neighboring New Jersey, for example, 20 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2010 involved pedestrians, and 60 percent of the pedestrians who were killed were not killed by speeding cars but rather by jaywalking.
Now Fort Lee, the New Jersey borough adjacent to the George Washington Bridge, is cracking down on jaywalkers in an attempt to increase public safety.
While jaywalking is illegal in New Jersey, the jaywalking laws have seldom been enforced. Fort Lee police are intent on changing that, however, and are now issuing tickets to surprised pedestrians.
"Even [to] kids," said Chief Tom Ripoli. "We just hope their parents would make them pay the fine. After all, this is for the safety of the public."
Since March of this year, Fort Lee police have issued 117 tickets, each carrying an $85 fine.
Tim Franco, the head of the New Jersey Police Traffic Officers Association said, "If you give a pedestrian a ticket, he looks at you like you have two heads. But when you have a serious public safety situation, as in Fort Lee, I'm glad they're doing this."
Some towns in the Garden State are launching educational campaigns as another way to reduce accidents between motorists and pedestrians.
For instance, the "Stop, Look and Wave" program in Ridgewood teaches students not only to be careful when crossing the street, but also to wear light-colored clothes at night so they are more visible, to make eye contact with drivers, and to wave at drivers to make sure that they see them.
What do you think of the increased crackdown on jaywalking? Is it unnecessary or long overdue?
Stay tuned for further updates on this story from our New York traffic law blog ...
If you or a loved one has received a speeding ticket or other traffic citation, don't just dismiss it. Instead, consider contacting an attorney who understands New York's confusing legal system, and who can help you evaluate your options and make the right decisions.
This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.
The Record, "Deaths push Fort Lee to take jaywalking seriously," John Cichowski, May 11, 2012