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news release

P.O. Box 600
Trenton, NJ

Contact: Anna Farneski
609-530-4280

RELEASE: May 15, 2003


Lettiere Testifies Before Senate Transportation Committee on Governor's Highway Safety Initiative

 

(Trenton) - Transportation Commissioner Jack Lettiere testified Thursday before the State Senate Transportation Committee in support of "Safety First," Governor McGreevey's statewide highway safety initiative.

The Commissioner testified in support of A-3527, which would designate "Safe Corridors" on portions of state highways with high accident and fatality rates and allow for double fines on moving violations such as speeding and aggressive driving. The Assembly Transportation Committee unanimously approved the legislation last week.

"The Governor has said, and I firmly agree that we have a personal responsibility to invest whatever time, money, and effort is necessary to reduce the risk of accidents in New Jersey," said Lettiere, adding that last year 700 people died in motor vehicle crashes in New Jersey. "They are not statistics- they are our mothers and fathers, daughters, sons, our friends and our colleagues. And we cannot sit idly by and let these horrific trends continue."

National studies indicate that by doubling fines in high-risk corridors, the number of crashes and fatalities decrease. The doubled fines would remain in force until accident rates decline and be dedicated for highway safety purposes. Motorists are already subject to doubled fines when such offenses are committed in construction zones.

In November, Governor McGreevey ordered a Highway Safety Task Force be created to study the issue and develop a plan of action following a series of accidents involving motor vehicles and trucks. The members include the DOT, State Police, the AAA Auto Clubs of New Jersey, the New Jersey Motor Truck Association and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

In March the Task Force unveiled a series of long-term safety improvements based on the Three E's: engineering, education and enforcment. The 12-point program combines $20 million in highway improvements over the next five years, stricter police enforcement and new driver education initiatives to reduce fatalities and injuries.

The initiatives include the designation of "Safe Corridors" on highways with high accident rates, increasing fines for overweight trucks or with faulty brakes, and installing new median barriers along interstate highways to prevent deadly crossover accidents.

In April, the Task Force identified 13 state highways as potential "Safe Corridors." Based on higher than average accident or fatality rates during 2001, the most recent year for which data is available, the affected roads would be:

Route
Total Crashes
Fatals
1
7,329
20
9
4,114
12
10
1,180
6
17
2,298
6
22
2,992
6
23
1,360
9
30
1,920
15
40
1,282
7
46
3,197
7
47
1,291
6
73
986
14
130
2,209
7
206
2,726
15

Other elements of Safety First include:

A revision of New Jersey's written drivers test will include eight questions regarding safe interaction between cars and trucks. Also, the manual will be redesigned to include more information on safety and car-truck interaction.

Over the next five years, the DOT will invest $15 million installing barriers along interstate highway medians to prevent collisions between vehicles traveling in opposite directions.

Another $5 million will be used for technological improvements to accelerate the emergency response to accidents and redirect traffic.

Truck drivers who accumulate more than 12 points on their driving record will be required to attend an accredited safety driving school.

Currently DOT staff is analyzing data to determine which sections of roadway have the highest accident and fatality rates. If A-3527 is enacted, signs would be erected alerting motorists to the increased fines for a deterrent effect.

On May 19, Safety Impact Team including representatives from the NJDOT, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and National Highway Safety Traffic Administration will monitor the designated corridors to determine what factors contribute to their unacceptable safety records and recommend remedial steps that can be taken to improve safety.

 
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  Department of Transportation
  P.O. Box 600
  Trenton, NJ 08625-0600
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  Last Updated:  May 7, 2007