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  Director's Message I Message Archive I Biography

Director's Message

May/June/July 2009

HTS Director Pam Fischer Pam Fischer
  Bike Safety

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 spring ’09 well underway, and summer rapidly approaching, there’s no better time to remind all New Jerseyans about remaining safe while enjoying what is now becoming one of the most popular alternative forms of transportation in our state, bicycling.

Last year, while traffic fatalities across the state dipped to a 45 year low, the number of individuals killed while bicycling nearly doubled. In 2008, a total of 22 people lost their lives in bicycle-traffic crashes, up from 12 in 2007 and 12 in 2006. Across the nation, more than 700 people die and nearly 500,000 people are taken to hospital emergency rooms each year as a result of bike-related injuries.

These staggering statistics tell us that there is still a critical need to educate bike riders and motorists about the importance of safely sharing the road. Under New Jersey law, a bike is considered a vehicle, so riders must obey the same laws as motorists when on roadways. Motorists, as well, must also recognize that bicyclists have a right to be on the road. To reinforce this safety message, the Division recently produced bike “hang tags,” with information in both English and Spanish, for distribution to bicyclists through traffic safety organizations and agencies, police departments, bicycle retailers, transportation management associations and college campuses. Designed to hang on bike handlebars, the tags are highly visible, and provide succinct information on the safe operation of a bicycle.

To ensure that all bicyclists, regardless of age, ride safe this summer and throughout the year, the Division offers these safety tips:

  • Never ride a bike without a helmet. While the law requires anyone under the age of 17 to wear a properly fitted and fastened helmet, all riders are strongly encouraged to use one. Head injuries are the most common cause of death among cyclists, but this trauma can be reduced by as much as 85 percent simply by wearing a helmet. Parents and older friends can be a great role model for younger riders by always wearing a helmet when they ride. This simple action can help reinforce the life-saving value of this law.
  • Make sure your helmet fits properly. The helmet should be placed over the forehead and the strap secure enough to ensure that it does not move forward or backward. To test if your helmet fits properly, place two fingers under the chin strap. If you can fit less or more than two, the fit should be adjusted.
  • Wear bright clothing to ensure that you’re visible to motorists and pedestrians.
  • Make sure your bike is equipped with reflectors. If you plan to ride at night, install a white light on the front and a red light on the rear of the bike.
  • Under New Jersey law, all bikes must have a horn or a bell. This safety equipment can help alert both drivers and pedestrians to your presence.
  • Use proper turning and stopping hand signals.
  • More than 70 percent of bicycle/motor vehicle crashes occur at driveways or intersections. When approaching an intersection, proceed with caution, looking left, right and left again.
  • Make sure your bike is regularly maintained and all equipment is working properly. Tires should be properly inflated and the wheels straight and secure. The handlebars should be firmly in place and turn easily, while the seat should be properly adjusted.
  • Always ride on the right side of the road, with traffic. Ride no more than two abreast (as long as it does not impede the flow of traffic,) in a straight, predictable path.

Taking the time to become familiar with these simple rules of bike safety will ensure that all New Jerseyans are kept safe on our roads not just this summer, but every season. Additional information is available on the Division’s bicycle safety page, at The website also has a wealth of information on a wide array of traffic safety programs. Be sure to visit often, since new information is posted regularly. Feel free to download our educational materials, as well. Enjoy the summer.

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