Two recent incidents of pedestrians struck by cars in Maplewood has led to worry and frustration among residents, and action from township officials.
A man was hit by a car on Prospect Street near Elmwood Avenue just before Christmas; in October a 7-year-old boy was struck by a car at Prospect Street and Lexington Avenue. The boy’s injuries were not severe and he was released after a brief hospitalization; police issued the driver a “failure to yield” summons.
The man hit continues to recover from his injuries, according to sources; the accident investigation is not closed and police urge anyone who may have witnessed the accident to contact the Detective Bureau.
Meanwhile, residents have expressed deep concern about traffic safety in the town, citing drivers who speed and commit other violations, and too many near-misses at busy intersections across the township.
In response, Mayor Vic DeLuca plans to host a traffic safety summit, bringing together township representatives, traffic professionals from county and state departments of transportation, and experts from colleges and universities to explore the issue and discuss potential steps to improve traffic safety.
In his recent State of the Township address, DeLuca implored drivers to slow down, noting that two pedestrian accidents is “two too many.”
DeLuca told The Village Green the impending retirement of township engineer Thomas Malavasi might delay the summit a bit. “I would like to have the next Engineer on board but will move ahead if it does not look like it will be relatively soon,” he said.
Maplewood Police Chief Robert Cimino said he fully supports the idea of a summit. The township will also consider initiatives such as providing reflectorized materials for pedestrians, an idea brought up by a resident.
At the recent town budget hearing, Cimino told the Township Committee that in 2016 the department will increase its traffic enforcement and hold more driver checkpoints.
“Checkpoints are a good idea,” said DeLuca, because they send the message of “Don’t be a knucklehead in our town.”
MPD Capt. Dawn Williams wrote a traffic safety article for residents that is included in the most recent Maplewood Leaflet; it is reprinted in full below.
As part of our ongoing effort to improve Traffic Safety, the Maplewood Police Department will continue to conduct various Traffic Enforcement Details aimed at improving all aspects of Traffic Safety. In addition, we would like to provide information to assist with Pedestrian Safety. Please utilize the following information and suggestions to further protect yourself when you are a pedestrian or a vehicle operator approaching a pedestrian.
All pedestrians should, when possible, cross the roadway in a marked crosswalk. Further, if there is a signalized intersection such as a traffic light, cross at that intersection with the light. If you are utilizing a crosswalk where no signal is present, ensure that the operator of a vehicle sees you and stops to permit you to cross prior to stepping into the path of the vehicle. Although vehicle operators are to stop and remain stopped for pedestrians in a crosswalk, there is also a responsibility to the pedestrian to use due care for his / her safety.
When walking in low light conditions or darkness, when possible, carry a light and wear reflective clothing. This will assist with visibility and vehicle operators will be able to identify the presence of a pedestrian from greater distances. If walking with small children, instruct them to wait for you prior to entering the roadway and consider taking them by the hand during the actual crossing of the roadway.
If operating a motor vehicle, remember that you must stop and remain stopped to allow pedestrians in a marked or unmarked crosswalk to cross the roadway. Although pedestrians are responsible for using due care for their safety, the responsibilities of pedestrians do not relieve the driver of the responsibility of using due care for the safety of any pedestrian on a roadway.
In short, for traffic safety to be most effective, all parties must do their part to ensure the safety of themselves as well as others. The Maplewood Police Department would like to wish everyone a Happy and Safe New Year. If you have any questions regarding traffic safety, please contact the Maplewood Police Department at (973) 762-3400 and request to speak with a member of the Traffic Bureau.