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Bergen County Makes Pedestrian Safety A Priority

And in the end, the life you save may be your own. Photo Credit: WYCKOFF PD
Wyckoff police made the point clear with this texting while driving message. Photo Credit: WYCKOFF PD

HACKENSACK, N.J. — Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino, in conjunction with the Police Traffic Officer’s Association, is launching a pedestrian safety campaign in the hopes of decreasing the number of those killed.

Saudino will announce this year's campaign on the steps of the Bergen County Courthouse in Hackensack on Tuesday, Oct. 6, as part of Pedestrian Safety Month.

"The sheriff will highlight various statistics over the years, including the number of fatalities and and how to curtail such a horrific event in one's life,” Anthony Cureton, his public information director, told Daily Voice.

Wyckoff Police Chief Benjamin C. Fox has long emphasized the need for public education on the issue.“Traffic safety complaints are some of biggest the police departments in Bergen County get,” he said.

Fox and his department have used humorous public service messages.There was the poster that bore a replica of the Beatles’ "Abbey Road" album cover, with the chief and three other officers crossing a road (Fox portrayed the shoe-less, suited Paul McCartney). Another showed a hearse and police car at a cemetery, underscoring the dangers of texting and driving.

Education is ineffective without enforcement, police emphasize.

Lyndhurst Police Chief James O’Connor said he'll have extra officers on pedestrian safety detail throughout October.

“Officers on patrol who see pedestrians crossing in an unsafe matter or a motorist not yielding will take necessary action,” O’Connor said.Some law enforcement officials -- including Police Chiefs Keith Bendul of Fort Lee and John Ward of Ridgewood -- use decoy officers to cross streets in order to catch violators.It catches drivers' attention.

“Some people only get the message once they have to pay a fine and their insurance rates go up,” Fox said. “That is what gets people to change their behavior.”

Statistics:

In 2014, there were 39 fatalities resulting from motor vehicle collisions in Bergen County, 24 of which inolved pedestrians. This accounts for nearly 62% of fatalities countywide, which is double the state average;

In the last decade, more than 1,500 pedestrians were killed in NJ;

In the last five years, there were approximately 28,000 pedestrian crashes in the state, an average of 5,600 per year.

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