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State Police: ‘Be safe and smart this Labor Day weekend’

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

More than 400 people have been killed on NJ roadways this year — 403, to be exact. That’s 14 more than at this same time last year. Which only means: The State Police’s annual enforcement campaign will be more aggressive than ever before. And that’s not hype.

It’s simple math, really: Traffic increases on Labor Day weekend more than any other time of the year. That alone boosts the risk of accidents. And with the negative numbers rising, troopers have been ordered to do all they can to reduce those risks.

“New Jersey motorists are not taking the steps necessary to travel safely throughout the state,” said State Police Col. Rick Fuentes, the agency’s superintendent.

“There is no other activity in which people make life or death decisions on such a regular basis,” Fuentes said. That includes speeding, over-aggressiveness, driving while drunk, distracted or tired.

Troopers will concentrate on these behaviors, the colonel said, since these are usually most responsible for fatal accidents. They’ll also look for drivers — and occupants — not wearing seatbelts.

“High visibility enforcement remains the cornerstone in the efforts to ensure that the motoring public drives safely during the holiday weekend,” said Mindy Lazar, New Jersey’s executive director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

In case you’re wondering, the 2009 Labor Day Holiday officially begins for law enforcement at 6 p.m. Friday and continues through 5:59 a.m. 

Keep in mind:

Fatigue plays a big part in accidents. You try to squeeze out every last minute out of the long weekend and you end up driving exhausted. TIP: Know the roads you’re going to be on, and make frequent stops.

Inattentive driving might be the biggest culprit. Sure, cellphones get lots of attention, but how many times have you seen drivers fiddling with handheld computers, maps, sound systems, built-in video/game monitors or kids in the back seat? How many times have YOU done it?

Pedestrian deaths
statewide are rising at a frightening rate. That includes people who have gotten out of disabled cars on the highway. TIP: If it happens to you, pull to a safe location, stay in your vehicle and await assistance.  If you have to cross a busy roadway, do it at a designated crossing.

NJSP Col. Rick Fuentes

FOOTNOTE: “In addition to increased land-based safety responsibilities, personnel assigned to the State Police Marine Bureau will be patrolling all the waterways throughout the summer boating season,” Fuentes said. “Enforcement activities will focus on boaters drinking alcohol and persons recklessly operating personal watercraft (jet skis) and other powered vessels.  Marine troopers will also be checking to see that boat operators have obtained the proper licenses to operate watercraft.”

A good synopsis of boating requirements can be found on the N.J. State Police Website under “Boating Safety.”

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