By Kevin Coughlin
Morristown was not a good place to ignore pedestrians in crosswalks, talk on a cell phone while driving, or jaywalk during April and May.
According to newly released statistics from TransOptions, the score sheet breaks down like this:
- Failing to stop for pedestrians: 46 summonses, 35 warnings
- Jaywalking: 15 Summonses, 90 warnings
- Crossing against the traffic signal: 12 summonses, 18 warnings
- Cellphone use: 65 summonses
Morristown was chosen for TransOption’s third such drive in New Jersey because the town experienced 51 pedestrian-related crashes from January 2013 to December 2015, including one fatal crash.
The campaign included a public survey, monitoring of several crosswalks and speeds of motor vehicles, and a promotional blitz of informational materials in English and Spanish.
These included 23,500 tip cards, 800 posters, 80 street signs, eight banners and two bus decals.
“We’re pleased to see the positive impact of these efforts in Morristown and look forward to continuing our work with the town as well as spreading the Street Smart message throughout the region,” John F. Ciaffone, TransOptions president, said in a statement.
Mayor Tim Dougherty thanked “everyone involved in the campaign and most importantly the residents of Morristown for embracing safe behaviors whether walking or driving through town.”
Some of these efforts were funded with federal money disbursed by the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority.
Overtime funds for Morristown police, who spent 148 enforcement hours on Street Smart, came from the Pedestrian Safety Education and Enforcement fund from the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety, according to TransOptions.
New Jersey’s 2013 pedestrian fatality rate of 24.3 percent was nearly double the national average, a stat that caught the attention of the Federal Highway Administration.
Morristown Police Lt. Matt Rawding called Street Smart a success, but said in a statement that “more work needs to be done to make sure Morristown remains a safe place for all people, no matter how they’re traveling.”
At least two pedestrians were injured in accidents as the campaign was unfolding.
A 29-year-old woman sustained a broken pelvis and fractured ribs when she was struck near the Green in May. Police said the woman was jaywalking.
On the eve of the public announcement of Street Smart, a Morristown police vehicle struck a pedestrian in the vicinity of Speedwell Avenue and Spring Street, according to the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office.
That incident, which occurred in the early hours of March 28, 2016, remains under investigation, according to a spokesman for Prosecutor Fredric Knapp. No further details have been released.
Street Smart enforcement included the intersection of Speedwell and Flagler Street.
Other focus intersections included Morris Street and King Street, where monitoring cameras were placed; South Street and Community Place; Speedwell and Henry Street, and the area surrounding the Morristown Green — North Park Place, South Park Place, East Park Place, and West Park Place.
The town also enacted an ordinance restricting bicycling on sidewalks, in a further move to improve pedestrian safety.