Street Smart Campaign Launch

28 Sep

Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert and the Princeton Police Department are holding a news conference with the Greater Mercer Transportation Management Association (GMTMA) Thursday, September 29 to kick off its participation in Street Smart New Jersey, a pedestrian safety initiative focusing on outreach and education designed to change unsafe behavior by pedestrians and drivers on our streets.

zerogrpah

The event is being held at Hinds Plaza at the intersection of Witherspoon and Hullfish Streets during the Princeton Farmers Market at 12:30pm.

Speakers will include Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert, Princeton Police Chief Nicholas Sutter, and GMTMA Executive Director Cheryl Kastrenakes.

The Street Smart Campaign is launching in early October to coincide with the start of local schools and the return of Princeton University students for the fall semester.  The campaign focuses on compliance of traffic and pedestrian safety laws.  The Princeton Police Department is partnering with GMTMA, a non-profit transportation organization serving Mercer County.

“We want everyone to be safe whether they’re walking to school, to work, to the store, or out for some exercise,” said Mayor Lempert. “Princeton has lots of pedestrians because we’re a great, walkable community, and that’s why this safety campaign is so important. It’s an opportunity to remind both pedestrians and drivers of the rules that are designed to keep everyone safe.”

Street Smart is a collaborative effort between the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA), Federal Highway Administration, New Jersey Department of Transportation and New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety.  GMTMA is working with NJTPA to coordinate Street Smart campaign in communities in Mercer and Ocean Counties.

Street Smart aims to change pedestrian and motorist behavior to reduce pedestrian-related crashes, injuries, and fatalities.  The campaign uses the slogan “check your vital signs” to remind motorists and pedestrians of safe travel roles and responsibilities.  Vital signs are displayed on tip cards, posters, and temporary street signs throughout the community as a visual reminder for drivers and pedestrians.

In the state of New Jersey, from 2010-2014, 750 pedestrians were killed and 17,000 were injured.  Between 2013 and 2015, there were 55 pedestrian-related crashes in Princeton.  Of those accidents 52 pedestrians were injured and there was one fatality.

For more information on GMTMA and the Street Smart campaign in other municipalities, go to gmtma.org/street-smart.

Fall is here

23 Sep

The first day of fall was yesterday, September 22. We are now looking forward to seeing the beautiful fall foliage, but not really looking forward to having shorter days.  Commuting in the dark brings about additional challenges; let’s go over a few fall safety tips.

forest-1345747_960_720

When driving:

  • Be careful when the road is covered in wet leaves, they may cause your car to slip.
  • Watch for deer, they are very active between dawn and dusk this time of year.
  • Pay particular care for bicyclists and pedestrians who can be more difficult to see during low light hours.
  • Adjust your lights to low beam when driving through fog
  • Always wear your seatbelt and do not use electronic devices while driving.

When walking or biking:

  • Make sure you have bright/light clothing, reflective gear, a glow stick, or a reflective band.
  • Cyclists must have lights on the front and rear of their bike. It’s safer and the law!
  • Pedestrians can also carry a flashlight and should always use the sidewalk when available
  • If possible walk/bike in groups to be more visible.

Stay safe and enjoy all the beauty of the fall!

Is It the Low Gas Prices?

9 Sep

The latest National Highway Traffic Safety Administration figures show a large increase in the number of traffic fatalities in the last year. A total of 35,092 people lost their life in traffic crashes, an increase of 7.2% since 2014. The total number includes drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians.  The previous trend of declining traffic deaths has been reversed in 2015 and the main reason cited was increased driving due to the low fuel prices. And according to a CDC study, U.S. now has the highest traffic deaths when compared to other high-income countries.

So is it really just the low gas prices? Not really. Low gas prices led to an increase in the number of people driving, but it didn’t cause the crashes. The CDC study shows that too many people are behaving recklessly, speeding, driving while intoxicated and not always using their seatbelt.

In addition, poor transit options and street design that prioritizes cars over humans also play a big role. And that’s why supporters of Complete Streets policy and Vision Zero are gaining ground in more and more places across United States. Designing our streets to be safer can reduce the instances of traffic deaths by lowering the speed limit, giving pedestrians and bicyclists safe access, and allowing public transit to run on time.

Until we have safer streets and better transit options, we can help change the trend by driving carefully and looking out for each other whether you are a driver, a cyclist, or a pedestrian.

Sources:

http://nacto.org/2016/08/31/traffic-deaths/

https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/motor-vehicle-safety/index.html

http://www.curbed.com/2016/9/1/12737230/streets-traffic-deaths-pedestrians

http://www.nhtsa.gov/About+NHTSA/Press+Releases/traffic-fatalities-2015

September is Healthy Aging Month

2 Sep

September is healthy aging month and good mobility is a critical aspect of healthy living!

Family Walking In The Park

Most of us recognize that poor health can affect a person’s ability to get around easily.  Less attention though has been given to the fact that mobility affects health and well-being. Access to transportation for seniors is closely tied to their quality of life.

Did you know:

  • 21% of seniors no longer drive
  • Non-drivers make 15% fewer trips to the doctor
  • 59% fewer shopping trips
  • 65% fewer trips for social, family and religious activities

We all need to have the ability to stay connected to our communities, healthcare, shopping and social opportunities.  Healthy aging depends on it!

How to help yourself or the seniors in your life:

  1. Encourage everyone to keep walking. Maintaining mobility is a lot easier than regaining mobility.
  2. Promote Complete Streets in your town so that safe walking is possible.
  3. Keep driving skills sharp by signing up for a driver refresher course through AARP.
  4. Learn how to use public transportation. It will be much easier to “put down the keys” if it should become necessary.  Contact GMTMA to learn about our travel training classes.
  5. Learn about senior ride services like TRADEand RideProvide in Mercer County and Ocean Ride in Ocean County.
  6. Advocate for improved transportation options for seniors.
  7. Have a positive attitude!

“Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over”

26 Aug

The National Highway Traffic Safety (NHTSA) launched the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” national campaign on August 19, and the campaign will continue until September 5, 2016. The campaign and enforcement mobilization come as a response to the high number of traffic fatalities due to drunk driving. According to the NHTSA, drunk driving is one of the “deadliest and most often committed – yet preventable- of crimes” and a “serious safety epidemic in our country.”

Photo: NHTSA

Photo: NHTSA

New Jersey joined NHTSA in the prevention effort, and it is organizing sobriety checkpoints. The message is simple: if you drive impaired, you risk being arrested and spending up to $10,000 in associated costs.

We know we’ve been saying this on other occasions, but don’t be a statistic, do not drink and drive. Although the legal limit is .08 grams per deciliter, alcohol consumption affects people’s ability to drive in different ways. Alcohol is a depressant drug, and it reduces the speed of reaction, reduces concentration, impairs vision, and some people may feel over confident which may lead to making rash decisions and taking the risk of driving impaired.

That is why if you plan to have alcohol, you should plan ahead, designate a driver ahead of time, call a cab, or take public transportation; it is not worth taking the risk. NHTSA launched an app to help people plan ahead; it is called SAFERRIDE, and it is available on both Android and iPhone.

Other things you can do to help:

As always, be safe!

Back to School Safety Tips

19 Aug

It is hard to believe August is almost over and there are only a few days left until school starts. That means it’s time for back to school preparations and going over some back to school safety tips.

Back to school Safety tips

Let’s start with the drivers:

  • Don’t drive distracted and watch for children walking and biking to school
  • Slow down, obey speed limit in school zones and near school bus stops
  • Look out for children around your vehicle, when you back out of your driveway
  • Be prepared to stop for school buses if the yellow overhead light is flashing and come to a full stop when the red lights are flashing. Cars behind the bus and cars coming from the opposite direction have to stop when the school bus red lights are flashing.

Children and Parents

Taking the school bus:

  • Wait for the bus to stop before boarding and always board and exit the bus at locations that provide safe access
  • Walk only where you can see the bus driver (which means the driver will be able to see you too)
  • Look both ways to see that no other traffic is coming before crossing the street, just in case traffic does not stop as required
  • Do not move around on the bus
  • If the school bus has lap/shoulder seat belts, make sure you use one at all times when in the bus

If you are driving them to School:

  • All passengers should wear a seat belt or use an age- and size-appropriate car safety seat or booster seat
  • Your child should ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle’s seat belt fits properly (usually when the child reaches about 4′ 9″ in height and is between 8 to 12 years of age)
  • All children younger than 13 years of age should ride in the rear seat of vehicles. If you must drive more children than can fit in the rear seat (when carpooling, for example), move the front-seat passenger’s seat as far back as possible and have the child ride in a booster seat if the seat belts do not fit properly without it
  • Require teen drivers to wear a seat belt, limit the number of teen passengers, and do not allow eating, drinking, cell phone conversations, texting or other mobile device use to prevent driver distraction

 Biking to school:

  • Always wear a bicycle helmet
  • Ride on the right, in the same direction as auto traffic. Use multi-use paths or bike lanes when available.
  • Learn and use appropriate hand signals
  • Respect traffic lights and stop signs.
  • Wear bright-colored clothing to increase visibility. White or light-colored clothing and reflective gear is especially important after dark.

Walking to School:

  • Choose a safe route with well-trained adult crossing guards at intersections (note: internal neighborhood roads don’t have crossing guards so the every seems unnecessary)
  • Use the NJ Walking School Bus app to find other children in the neighborhood with whom your child can walk to school.  Organize a “walking school bus,” and take turns walking children to school
  • If your children are young or are walking to a new school, walk with them the first week or until you are sure they know the route and can do it safely.
  • Wear bright-colored clothing to increase visibility.

If you want to know more about bike and pedestrian safety learn how to organize a walking school bus and how to use the NJ Walking School Bus app, go to gmtma.org.

 

Sources:

https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/news-features-and-safety-tips/pages/back-to-school-tips.aspx?nfstatus=401&nftoken=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000&nfstatusdescription=ERROR:+No+local+token

http://apps.saferoutesinfo.org/lawenforcement/resources/driving_tips.cfm

https://www.safetyinsurance.com/resource_center/personalauto/schooltips.html

http://exchange.aaa.com/safety/child-safety/schools-open-drive-carefully/#.V7MftFQrK70

Aggressive Driving and Road Rage

12 Aug

A recent AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Survey shows that 8 out of 10 drivers see aggressive driving as a serious safety risk.  And they are right; unfortunately many of these same people don’t see that they are the aggressive drivers.  Just because a person’s behavior doesn’t resemble the horrific road rage incidents that are shown on the news and captured on You Tube videos, doesn’t mean that they aren’t aggressive and making our roads more dangerous.

Speeding is one of the most prevalent aggressive driving behaviors and a factor in one-third of fatal crashes.  Racing, tailgating, gesturing, getting into a fight with other drivers, also qualify as aggressive driving behaviors.

Do you know if you’re an aggressive driver? Find out by taking this AAA quiz https://www.aaafoundation.org/are-you-aggressive-driver

Most of us have witnessed or been involved in an aggressive driving situation or will at some point.  Extreme cases of aggressive behavior lead to road rage, and it is a criminal charge.  According to the NHTSA, about two-thirds of motor vehicle deaths involved some form of aggressive driving.  It is critical to know what triggers it and how to react (or not react) to avoid serious consequences so here are a few tips to keep in mind.

 What causes aggressive driving and what triggers road rage? 

According to AAA Foundation these are some of the behaviors that can anger drivers the most:

o    Cutting off another driver

o    Driving slowly in the left lane

o    Tailgating

o    Gestures (obscene gestures)

How to avoid aggressive driving and road rage?

o    Staying focused and alert helps you react quickly in case someone slams the breaks, tries to get in front of you, change lanes without signaling

o    Watch out for other drivers, do not assume they are prepared to react

o    Follow the 3-second rule to maintain a safe following distance

o    Don’t speed

o    Don’t react or retaliate when another driver is agitated; it’s best to avoid eye contact

o    Leave yourself plenty of travel time so you don’t feel rushed and stressed while driving

For more tips on how to avoid road rage, check this AAA Foundation Brochure.

Be the better person, get home safe.

Sources:
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/8-million-u-s-drivers-engage-road-rage/
http://kidshealth.org/en/teens/driving-safety.html#
http://www.safemotorist.com/articles/road_rage.aspx
https://www.aaafoundation.org/sites/default/files/RoadRageBrochure.pdf