The Morris County Seat is home to the latest efforts in the statewide Street Smart campaign. Speaking in the lobby of Town Hall, Morristown officials and community stakeholders kicked off Street Smart Morristown, a month-long pedestrian safety campaign that will run through April.
At a press conference Tuesday morning, Timothy Dougherty, the Mayor of the Town of Morristown, together with the Morristown Police Department, TransOptions, county and state representatives and other important advocates launched the campaign, which is an effort that combines grassroots public awareness, educational outreach and high-visibility law enforcement to change behaviors as they relate to pedestrian safety.
“Education is one of the most important things that we can do for our community and those that come to enjoy our downtown,” Dougherty said. “It adds another level of greatness to our community in a sense that we look at every aspect, not just a development or a new restaurant or a new boutique, but how we make our quality of life the best it can be for the ones who live here and for the many thousands that come to visit.”
From 2013 to 2015, there were 51 pedestrian-related crashes in Morristown, including one fatal crash. Of those, 21 percent were a result of pedestrians jaywalking and 46 percent were a result of pedestrians being struck while crossing in a marked crosswalk.
Street Smart’s “check your vital signs” slogan emphasizes safe travel roles and responsibilities to both pedestrians and motorists alike. The vital signs are to be displayed on tip cards, posters, banners and street signs throughout the community and in local businesses as a visual reminder for drivers and pedestrians.
Following these traffic laws “will go a long way towards achieving a goal of zero pedestrian deaths on our roadways,” said Trauma Program Coordinator Renay Durling-Grover, explaining that Morristown Medical Center saw an increase of 37 percent in pedestrian injuries in 2015.
When citing these statistics, Durling-Grover emphasized that “zero is the only acceptable number.”
TransOptions, a non-profit transportation organization, is leading the Street Smart effort in Morristown, after successfully completing similar campaigns in Newton and Washington (Warren County) in the fall of 2015. The North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) launched five pilot campaigns in various New Jersey towns over the last two years and kicked off a new round of campaigns in March of this year. NJTPA and the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety are funding the efforts in Morristown. TransOptions is partnering with the Town of Morristown, the Morristown Police Department, the school district, as well as numerous local businesses and organizations.
“Morris County and the NJTPA have a long-standing commitment to make safety our number one transportation priority,” said Morris County Freeholder Director Kathy DeFillippo.
New Jersey Assemblyman Anthony Bucco expanded on the need for raised awareness around pedestrian safety. “Anything that we can do to educate people to make them understand that they’ve got to pay attention right up until the time they turn the ignition off on their cars, whatever we can do to make pedestrians realize that they not only have to look out for themselves, but for others, that’s a good thing and that’s exactly what this program will deliver to Morristown,” Bucco said.
“With the recent success of Street Smart in Newton and Washington, we’re looking forward to bringing this important campaign to Morristown,” said TransOptions President John F. Ciaffone.
“In a booming town like Morristown, it’s even more essential that drivers obey speed limits and stop for crossing pedestrians, and that pedestrians wait for the walk signal at intersections with traffic lights and refrain from jaywalking by using crosswalks. TransOptions will emphasize these ‘vital signs’ of the Street Smart campaign through education and outreach, while our partners, the Morristown Police Department, will be strictly enforcing these laws.”
Executive Director of the NJTPA, Mary K. Murphy, in highlighting the Street Smart efforts statewide, explained that the Federal Highway Administration has “designated New Jersey as a pedestrian focus state due to our very high rate of pedestrian-vehicle crashes.” From 2009‐2013, 697 pedestrians were killed and more than 22,000 were injured statewide.