New Jersey police use decoys to catch drivers breaking new law. Since April, cars must completely stop for pedestrians, not just yield to them.
New Jersey police are getting serious about enforcing the state’s new law requiring drivers to stop for people in crosswalks. The “Cops in Crosswalks” campaign that has begun in Collingswood.
Drivers traveling along Haddon Avenue don’t know it – but the man in the crosswalk wearing shorts, a t-shirt and sunglasses is an undercover police officer.
The undercover officer steps off the curb and a red Prius zooms by without stopping. A minute later a uniformed police officer just down the street directs the offending driver to turn into a parking lot where another officer leans into the car.
Officer: “Do you have any identification sir?”
Driver: “I do not no.”
Officer: “None whatsoever?
Driver: “No I don’t.”
Officer: “The reason that you were stopped sir is for failure to stop for the pedestrian in the crosswalk at Haddon and Irvin.”
Motorists who don’t stop face a $200 fine and two points on their license for violating a new state law that requires motorists to halt for pedestrians in marked crosswalks. Before the law went into effect in April motorists were only required to yield to pedestrians in marked crosswalks.
Since 2004 about 150 pedestrians have been killed and 6,000 injured annually in traffic-related crashes on New Jersey roadways. The percentage of pedestrians killed annually in New Jersey is double the national rate.
Collingswood Police Chief Richard Sarlo says pedestrians need to do their part to make travel safer.
“You were taught in kindergarten or first grade – you look both ways before you cross. You can’t expect a 3,000 pound machine to come to a screeching halt ten feet away from you.”
The new federally-funded initiative will provide federal grants of $8,000 each to 13 police departments across the state for the program that will run through mid-September.
Just down the bustling street, Christine Burns peers out the large glass windows of the bath and kitchen showroom where she works.
“We sit here in this big fish bowl of windows and we just watch you know the cars slam on their brakes, we watch people dive out of the way.”
Burns says she understands the challenges motorists face because she’s a driver too. Burns says an education campaign is good but there need to be more signs at crosswalks. She says drivers from out of the area don’t know about the law and it’s tough for drivers to see pedestrians who are about to step out from behind parked cars and into the crosswalk.