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  Director's Message I Message Archive I Biography

Director's Message

September/October 2010

HTS Director Pam Fischer Pam Fischer
  School Zone 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.

Did you know that the most dangerous part of anyone’s day is the time they spend in traffic? And that this is even more dangerous for school-age children and teens than for adults. That’s because motor vehicle crashes claim more young lives than any other cause of accidental death. With the new school year upon us, it’s a great time to reinforce the life-saving importance of adhering to all traffic laws in and around school safety zones.

Young children are particularly vulnerable in traffic because they lack, until about age ten, auditory localization skills – the ability to hear and anticipate oncoming traffic. Additionally, young children are impulsive and have trouble judging traffic and finding an acceptable gap to cross. Between 2007 and 2009, nearly 2,000 New Jersey children between 5 and 15 years of age were injured in pedestrian/motor vehicle-related crashes and 19 were killed. Boys accounted for nearly 64% of those injured and killed, but both boys and girls are vulnerable to pedestrian crashes which typically occur on a week day, during daylight hours and in dry weather conditions.

Clearly, teaching children about the importance of always using crosswalks and obeying pedestrian signs, signals and crossing guards is essential. But parents must also brush up on their traffic safety skills to ensure that they’re not committing infractions, particularly when behind the wheel. For instance, parents should refrain from double-parking, speeding, talking on cell phones or texting, and rushing off after dropping off their children. They should also follow the directions given by crossing guards and others stationed in school zones; failure to do so could not only endanger those who are providing a valuable service to the community, but the children they’re helping to protect. Consider this, in the past ten years crashes involving school crossing guards in New Jersey have increased 65%. That’s a statistic that should not only alarm parents, but provoke them to make safety their top priority when traveling in school zones.

A new 10-minute video entitled, “School Zone – Danger Zone,” can help parents take an active role in discussing with their children traffic safety issues that can occur in school zones. Produced by the Municipal Excess Liability Joint Insurance Fund (MEL) with support from the Division of Highway Traffic Safety, the video highlights the importance of parents knowing and following school drop off procedures, obeying (both children and parents) the instructions of school crossing guards and other officials, and serving as positive role models when behind the wheel. While parents are encouraged to watch the video with their children, the message is particularly important for parents who often unknowingly create traffic hazards as they drop off or pick up their children from school. Accompanying the video is a tip sheet that families can use to further facilitate discussion about traffic safety issues.

The video can be viewed on the Division’s web site by clicking here, while the accompanying tip sheet can be found at this location .

Additional information on school zone 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 Fall and stay safe!

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