I just read an article in the NY Times about New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio announcing operation Vision Zero in which he seeks to eliminate the number of pedestrian fatalities in NYC to zero. As a lawyer in Jersey City who has represented dozens of pedestrians who were seriously injured when hit by a car or truck, I applaud his efforts. Data showed the Mayor that 176 people died when hit walking city streets.
The young and elderly are particularly vulnerable as pedestrians. Studies have shown that even modest increases in the speed of vehicles greatly enhance the risk to people crossing our streets, such as Kennedy Boulevard in Jersey City, or Broadway in Bayonne. I recently settled a case for a woman who was seriously hurt in a Home Depot parking lot when struck by a SUV. She required several major surgeries.
It seems mayors and town officials are quick to imitate successful initiatives, so hopefully these catch on in New Jersey. The article mentioned “sting operations” in which an undercover officer will attempt to cross a street in a crosswalk. If a motorist does not yield a uniformed officer will issue a ticket. I have seen this type of operation take place several times in my hometown of Montclair and I can vouch – it works!
Hopefully, more New Jersey towns such as Union City, Bayonne, Jersey City and North Bergen and other towns will amp up efforts to keep pedestrians safe. NYC has been active in creating safe zones for walkers. The vast majority of pedestrian “hit by car” cases that I have handled were for people hit in crosswalks. As a lawyer specializing in these cases, I believe distracted driving, texting and cell phone usage are prime contributors. It is vitally important that our elected officials and police departments take proactive measures to keep pedestrians safe.