Highway Fatalities Prompt Task Force Action
(Trenton) - Calling together members of the New Jersey Highway Safety Task Force, Transportation Commissioner Jack Lettiere today discussed the recent fatal accidents along the I-78 corridor and announced $500,000 in increased funding to begin installation of 500 "Safety First" awareness signs along all New Jersey highways, beginning with I-78.
The meeting was held in response to the Memorial Day weekend motorist fatalities along the I-78 corridor.
"This is an unacceptable way to begin the summer season," said Lettiere. "The Department is committed to every possible method of ensuring the safety of motorists traveling on New Jersey's highways. I believe that driver awareness is a key element in keeping roads safe."
The new "Safety First" signs, installed over the next year, will include several different messages such as Buckle Up, Keep Your Distance and the successful #77 State Police safety hotline, which is used to report erratic or aggressive driving. Since the statewide installation of 30 hotline signs, the New Jersey State Police have experienced a positive response, including a 260% increase in calls to report unsafe drivers in a 12-month period. Sign installation will begin on I-78 within the next two weeks.
Commissioner Lettiere also announced that he would review an expansion of the 100-mile median barrier program, which is already underway. NJDOT committed to a $15 million installation of 100 miles of median barriers over the next three to five years. To date, the I-78 corridor in Whitehouse and the I-80 corridor in Roxbury have been completed.
In addition to increased signage around the state, Lettiere ordered several other mediums, including Variable Message Systems (VMS), Highway Advisory Radio (HAR), and the NJDOT web page and printed materials, to be used immediately to promote "Safety First" messages. Commissioner Lettiere also asked that Task Force members coordinate with each of their respective organizations to maximize the highway safety outreach efforts.
"While enhanced highway safety measures and increased enforcement are a necessity, it is imperative that we also encourage motorists to drive safely on our roadways and report those who may be endangering the lives of others," said Lettiere.
Over the last seven months, the Department of Transportation has taken the lead on a number of new initiatives such as identifying "Safe Corridors" and establishing Safety Impact Teams to investigate necessary improvements, allocating $20 million for engineering and technological improvements, adding 500 miles of raised pavement reflectors over the next two years, recording driver safety public safety announcements, and expanding driver education programs.
The New Jersey Highway Safety Task Force consists of representatives from the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety, the New Jersey State Police, the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Administration, AAA - New Jersey, the New Jersey Motor Trucks Association and the New Jersey Division of the National Motorists Association. Also joining in today's conference call were representatives of the Hunterdon County Prosecutor's Office.