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  Director's Message I Message Archive I Biography

Director's Message

April-May 2010

HTS Director Pam Fischer Pam Fischer
  New Pedestrian Law:
Stopped and Stay Stopped

Thank you for visiting the Division of Highway Traffic Safety’s website. Charged with ensuring the safety of all who use our roadways, the Division sponsors comprehensive public education and awareness campaigns, as well as law enforcement initiatives to address a broad array of traffic safety issues.

With the arrival of spring, motorists often find themselves sharing the road not only with more vehicles, but more pedestrians, too. While walking is a great activity, particularly during the warm weather months, it can also be dangerous.

Since 2004, approximately 150 pedestrians have been killed annually in traffic-related crashes on New Jersey roadways. In 2009, after a three-year downward trend, the number of pedestrian deaths statewide increased to 157. As of April 6 of this year, 30 pedestrians have been killed in motor vehicle-related crashes statewide, as compared to 51 for the same time period last year. Additionally, since 2004, more than 30,000 pedestrians have been injured in motor-vehicle related crashes statewide.

While the numbers are once again moving in the right direction, even one life lost is one too many. To further help ensure the safety of all who use our transportation system, a new law, effective April 1, now requires motorists to stop -- and remain stopped -- for pedestrians in the crosswalk. Prior to this legislative change, motorists were required to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk.

The first change to the pedestrian law in nearly 50 years, this new law clarifies the responsibilities of both motorists and pedestrians. With this new law in place, the Division’s will be working to reinforce the importance of pedestrians always using crosswalks, their safety zone, as well as helping motorists recognize that when approaching crosswalks they must be alert for pedestrians and stop and stay stopped to allow them to cross safely.

Motorists violating the new law face a $200 fine, plus court costs, and two points on their license. They can also be subject to 15 days of community service and insurance surcharges. Pedestrians may also be cited under state law for failing to use due care when crossing. The law requires them to obey pedestrian signals and use crosswalks at signalized intersections as well as yield the right of way to traffic if they are not crossing within a crosswalk or at an intersection. Failure to comply with the law carries a $54 fine, plus court costs.

To educate motorists and pedestrians about the new law, the Division has developed an oversized palm card, similar in size to a traffic ticket that outlines the changes as well as the penalties for failing to comply. The card is being distributed to all police departments in the state, and is available to high school driver education teachers and defensive driving program providers. Additional pedestrian safety materials and information, including the new palm card, can be found at,

The Division offers the following safe walking tips for pedestrians:

  • Wear bright-colored, reflectorized clothing, especially at night.
  • Walk on sidewalks or paths and always cross at the corner, within marked crosswalks if provided. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic and make eye contact with motorists.
  • Never cross mid-block (unless within a marked crosswalk), between parked cars or by climbing over median barriers. This is not only unsafe, but against the law.
  • Look left, then right and left again before crossing, and always be on the look-out for turning vehicles.
  • Continue to look for vehicles while crossing, even when in marked crosswalks.
  • Learn the proper use of “walk/don’t walk” signals and obey them.
  • Walk and cross with others, when possible.
  • Do not attempt to cross while talking or texting on a cell phone. Pedestrian inattention is a common cause of pedestrian-motor vehicle conflicts.
  • Try not to walk at night or in bad weather, such as rain, snow or ice.
  • If you drink alcohol, have someone escort you to your front door.

Additional information on pedestrian safety, as well as a wide array of traffic safety programs, is available on the Division’s web site. Be sure to visit often, since new information is posted regularly. Feel free to download our educational materials, as well. Enjoy the remainder of spring.

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