Getting people to follow the rules of the road ordinarily means a crackdown, but this weekend police throughout New Jersey — and the U.S. — will mark the 10-year anniversary of a positive effort to help save lives through information.
This year’s theme: “Don’t Be Driven to Distraction.” It’s a timely message. Even the simplest or quickest of texts or phone calls, or a glance at yourself in the mirror could lead to death.
The goal this Sunday, an admittedly ambitious one, is to go an entire day without one death in a crash on a New Jersey roadway.
To help the cause, police departments will report crash information from Sunday, including the total number, those involving injuries and those that kill, to the Division of Highway Traffic Safety, the state’s lead traffic safety agency.
The division will post the information on its website and distribute it to the media.
It’s like “The Great American Smokeout,” only with blue uniforms.
“Clearly, this effort will go a long way in our continuing efforts to stem the tide of tragedies that occur every day on New Jersey’s roadways,” Fair Lawn Chief Eric Rose said. “Shining the spotlight on this one day can help create a groundswell of support for good driving behaviors that can carry over throughout the year.”
We can only hope.
( EDITOR’S NOTE : I was at a gas pump last week when a car came barreling into the station: The driver was looking to his right at something instead of in front of him, at the road. I leaned on my horn and he suddenly jumped and looked forward. He hit the brakes, then steered around me. I don’t want to imagine what could have happened had he hit the pumps… I’m sure you have your own stories, as well.)
Officially, the national “Put The Brakes On Fatalities Day” was designed to “unite the country in moving toward zero fatalities for one full day by encouraging motorists to obey all traffic laws, including buckling up, every ride; driving the posted speed limit; avoiding distractions while driving; and always being safe and sober behind the wheel,” according to promotional materials made available by local departments in Bergen County.
Last year, 583 people died in motor vehicle-related crashes in New Jersey, down from 590 in 2008. That continued a three-year downward trend in motor vehicle fatalities and was the fewest recorded in the State since the 1940s. Outstanding news.
The trend reflected a nationwide downturn that began around the same time, which brought the average daily death toll on the roads from nearly 120 a day in the U.S. to under 100.
“Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day not only raises awareness about the individual responsibility we have for our driving behaviors, but also engages drivers in making positive changes behind-the-wheel every day of the year,” Sgt. Derek Bastinck said.
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