Friday, May 03, 2013

Assembly Members Singleton and Conaway Roll Out Pedestrian Safety Bills

Assemblymen Troy Singleton and Herb Conaway, Jr. M.D. (both D-Burlington) have introduced an ambitious three-bill package including a vulnerable road user bill to boost pedestrian safety throughout the state, particularly in Burlington County where Route 130, considered the state's most dangerous corridor, is located.

On March 18th 20 year old Christal Smith of Delran was struck and killed in the crosswalk on Route 130 with the walk signal in front of Holy Cross High School. Then on April 8th 44 Year Old David A. Lee was critically injured crossing at a similar crosswalk on Rt. 130 at Millside Rd.

The legislative package Singleton and Conaway introduced this week will sharply stiffen fines and penalties for pedestrian-related motor vehicle crashes in order to help fund what they view as the three critical E's to improving pedestrian safety - education, enhanced engineering and enforcement.
Noting the high number of fatalities along Route 130 in Burlington County, the lawmakers designed the bills to crack down on anyone convicted of violating current laws that pertain to a driver's responsibility:

  • Concerning pedestrians at intersections, both those that ARE controlled by a traffic control device or police officer and those that are NOT;
  • When making a right turn at a red or yellow traffic signal to stop and remain stopped for pedestrians crossing within the adjacent crosswalk into which the motorist is turning; and 
  • When making a right turn at a stop or yield sign to stop and remain stopped for pedestrians crossing within the adjacent crosswalk into which the motorist is turning. 
A-4063 is a vulnerable road user would impose a $1,000 fine for certain existing motor vehicle violations that result in serious bodily injury or death to certain people, including pedestrians, bike riders, wheel chair operators, and construction or roadway improvement workers. The fine would be deposited into the "Pedestrian Safety Enforcement and Education Fund" and violators would also be required to complete remedial training. The penalties imposed by the bill are in addition to any other fine or penalty currently imposed by law. This bill is also sponsored by Assemblywoman L. Grace Spencer.

The second bill (A-4064) would increase fines for violations concerning pedestrians in intersections to $250, $150 of which would be deposited into the "Pedestrian Safety Enforcement and Education Fund" and $50 of the $150 deposited into the fund would be dedicated to initiatives on high priority roadways. Current fines for these violations range from $54-$200.

The bill defines a "high priority roadway" as a highway on which there were more than four pedestrian fatalities in the previous calendar year or more than eight pedestrian fatalities in the prior three calendar years.

The third bill (A-4065) would require that 10 percent of all fines, penalties, and forfeitures imposed and collected for motor vehicle violations be forwarded to the Department of the Treasury for deposit in the "State Safe Routes to School Fund." When appropriating the funds, preference would be given to local governments or school districts that have implemented initiatives on high priority roadways.

Those are pretty progressive bills, but protecting cyclists and pedestrians from the "unlimited access freeway" design that infects Route 130 and its ilk requires the full attention of the motorists using those roads. Furthermore MAP-21 eliminated dedicated funding for Safe Routes to School and a new revenue source is needed to keep the program viable.

We will be following these bills, so stay tuned for a campaign to get these bills passed. Meanwhile local officials are not waiting, seeking funds for crossing guards, extra patrols as well as walk and bike safety programs for local communities. 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

This is great! We're pushing a similar thing in Rhode Island. Good luck!