NJDOT unveils near term strategy to
improve highway safety in New Jersey
Transportation Commissioner Jamie Fox today unveiled a series of steps to be take to improve highway safety in New Jersey.
"Last week, at the request of Governor McGreevey, we held an emergency meeting in response to the string tragic accidents involving trucks on New Jersey highways," Commissioner Fox said. "Safety on our highways is a goal we all share. I’m pleased to report that we have developed a set of wide-ranging measures to make driving safer in our state.
"One of the ways to improve safety is to teach drivers to share the road with other cars and trucks. We must also ensure that trucks are safe to operate on our roads with regular inspections. Lastly, we must have a significant police presence on our roads to ensure drivers are in compliance with traffic safety laws. Our strategy addresses all of these."
The following steps will be taken:
- Deploy Electronic Driver Warning Signs: These signs, called Variable Message Signs (VMS), are mobile units that can import real time information and flash traffic warnings and safety messages that are highly visible to interstate drivers. As of Wednesday, November 26, VMSs were deployed throughout the State. The signs will be present throughout the coming months.
- Pilot Vehicle Crossover Barrier Program: DOT will install barriers at two locations, on I-78 in Whitehouse Station and on I-80 in Roxbury Township, to examine their ability to minimize damage during an accident. If successful, the barriers will prevent a vehicle from crossing over into oncoming traffic at the time of collision. The study will be completed by July 2003.
- Expand Emergency Service Patrol (ESP): In coordination with the State Police, DOT has increased the scope of its ESP. ESP units coordinate local authorities and emergency services when a traffic incident occurs. The ESP team currently aids more than 13,000 drivers annually. As of Wednesday, November 27, ESP expanded its service to include stretches of I 78.
- Encourage Safe Driving Distances on Highways: DOT will install signs along interstates reminding drivers to maintain a safe distance between themselves and the vehicles in front of them. Signs will be posted by Friday, December 6.
- Public Service Announcements: DOT is designing PSAs that promote courtesy on the roads, remind drivers of safety practices and encourage them to report aggressive driving to the1-888-SAFROAD/ #77 State Police hotline. The PSAs will be on the radio within the next two weeks.
- Public Education Campaign: The Department of Education and the Department of Transportation are working with the New Jersey Motor Truck Association and USDOT’s Motor Carrier’s Association to expand the "Share the Road Program" to reach at least 50 schools in 2003. The "Share the Road Program" brings trucks and drivers to driver’s education classes to educate students about "No-Zone" blind spots and safe interaction on the highway. NJMTA is currently assembling a team of twenty truckers, volunteered by their companies, who will be trained and sent out for demonstrations.
- Real Time traffic alerts on the NJDOT Web Sites: DOT is working to add real time traffic information and pictures on major New Jersey routes to its web sites. The links are expected to be up by the end of the year.
- Encourage drivers to report aggressive driving: DOT will post signs along the interstate highways asking drivers to dial 1-888-SAFROAD or #77, the State Police road safety hotline, to report erratic and aggressive driving. Signs will be posted on all highways by December 20.
"The State’s problems will not be solved overnight, and the concrete steps taken over the last ten days represent only the first step in the State’s long-term initiative to improve safety for New Jersey citizens. A comprehensive safety improvement plan will be announced by January 30, 2003," Commissioner Fox said.