We’re blazing through the holiday weekend, and guess who’s got our backs? Besides keeping roads safe, State Police are sniffing out illegal fireworks — possibly 6-8 TONS worth by tomorrow’s end.
It’s all about keeping people safe — and, yes, about protecting some of them from themselves (although they wouldn’t say as much in so many words).
“Each year emergency rooms are filled with patients who are injured by illegal fireworks,” is how New Jersey State Police Superintendent Colonel Rick Fuentes formally put it.
To further prevent serious injuries, patrols will be on the lookout for drunk and aggressive drivers, State Trooper Brian Polite said.
State Troopers will continue to partner with local and county law enforcement officers in a high- intensity enforcement program targeting drivers who operate under the influence of alcohol, Polite said.
Additional patrols will be mobilized statewide to identify drinking and drowsy drivers and responding to motorists calls for service, he said.
The head of the State Police believes there’s room for improvement in traffic safety.
“The goal we set each year is for a fatality free holiday. We can only attain that goal if the motoring public adheres to the driving behaviors that constitute safe driving,” said Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes.
As part of the overall holiday safety program, increased numbers of uniformed and plain clothed state troopers will be assigned to monitor traffic and large public gatherings.
The 2010 July 4th holiday officially begins at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, July 2nd and continues through 6:00 a.m. on Monday, July 5th.
Last year, four people died in four crashes on New Jersey roadways in the same time span.
So far this year, 244 people have died in traffic accidents, compared to 275 highway deaths recorded during the same period in 2009.
“The decrease in fatalities from last year is encouraging,” Fuentes said, “but we would like to reduce the number even more this year.”
The colonel’s crew is also stepping up enforcement to stop transportation of illegal fireworks, with a zero-tolerance policy.
It is a crime to sell, use, and/or possess any kind of fireworks including firecrackers, Roman candles, M80’s, cherry bombs, salutes, AND EVEN SPARKLERS in New Jersey without a valid permit, Polite said.
Possession of fireworks is a disorderly persons offense, but possession with the intent to sell is a fourth-degree offense, with a possible maximum penalty of 18 months imprisonment and fines up to $10,000.
So patrols will also monitor motorists who venture into Pennsylvania or surrounding states to purchase fireworks and transport them back into New Jersey.
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