Garden State Safer for Walkers in 2010, Belying Fears of “Crosswalk Chaos”

Police in Hillside, NJ conduct a "crosswalk sting," having a plainclothes officer cross the street to see whether drivers will yield.

Fewer pedestrians and cyclists are dying on the Garden State’s roads, sidewalks and bicycle paths this year versus 2009, even as the number of drivers and passengers killed has more or less held steady.

According to NJ State Police year-to-date statewide fatal crash statistics through August 25, total fatalities are down to 351, an 8.1 percent decline from the 380 persons killed during the same period last year. (These 2010 statistics are preliminary and will likely be revised up, but not enough to significantly offset the decline.)

What’s most striking about the statistics is the victim classification break down. A 25 percent decline in bicycle and pedestrian fatalities makes up the entire year-to-date reduction in statewide traffic fatalities:

Through 8/25/2009 Through 8/25/2010
Driver 200 200
Passenger 64 64
Pedalcyclist 10 7
Pedestrian 106 80
Total 380 351

Obviously there isn’t enough data to show causality between the decline in fatalities and New Jersey’s recently passed law requiring drivers to “stop and stay stopped” for pedestrians in crosswalks, or the ensuing crackdown on motorists who fail to yield. But the numbers certainly help allay concerns that the law would increase pedestrian fatalities by emboldening people to – horror! – cross the street.

Photo: David Gard/NJ Local News Service.

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