Authorities are urging drivers to be extra cautious on "Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day" on Thursday, hoping that will continue long afterwards.
Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato today
called upon motorists to join a
day-long effort on Thursday designed to increase awareness about safe
driving behaviors and keep the state’s roadways fatality-free for one day.
Known as "Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day," the national initiative was designed to unite the country in moving toward zero fatalities for one full day by encouraging motorists to obey all traffic laws, including buckling up, every ride; driving the posted speed limit; avoiding distractions while driving; and always being safe and sober behind the wheel, according to a prepared statement from the prosecutor's office.
Although New Jersey has managed to celebrate the last two "Put the Brakes on Fatalities Days" (October 10, 2011 and 2012) without tragedy, it will take the combined vigilance of all roadway users to accomplish this feat for the third consecutive year.
“Clearly, this effort will go a long way in our continuing efforts to stem the tide of tragedies that occur every day on New Jersey’s roadways,” said Coronato.
“Shining the spotlight on this one day can help create a groundswell of support for good driving behaviors that can carry over throughout the year. Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day not only raises awareness about the individual responsibility we have for our driving behaviors, but also engages drivers in making positive changes behind-the-wheel every day of the year,” Coronato added.
To support this effort, this day and every day, the prosecutor's office supports the 30 separate Ocean County municipal police departments' efforts to detect, educate, deter, arrest, and vigorously prosecute impaired drivers that contribute to fatalities each year.
“Ocean County maintains the largest county road network in the state with more than 1,500 county lane miles,” said Ocean County Freeholder Director John P. Kelly, Director of Law and Public Safety. “Every road improvement project we undertake always includes safety upgrades to insure our motorists are driving on safe roads.
“I join with Prosecutor Coronato and the law enforcement community in encouraging all drivers and pedestrians to adhere to the laws of the road, to put down their cell phones and to focus on driving,” Kelly said. “Working together we can reduce the number of accidents on our roadways and get everyone to their destinations safely.”
Throughout the year, the prosecutor's staff regularly makes presentations at local high schools related to fatal accidents. The prosecutor’s Vehicular Homicide Unit coordinates the staging of numerous checkpoints throughout the county.
The program creates a force multiplier by regionalizing and supplementing local DWI enforcement. The DWI checkpoint program, directed patrols and distracted driver details are funded in part by the county freeholders and the state Division of Highway Traffic Safety Grants.
These details are conducted by local police agencies in conjunction with Detectives from the prosecutor’s Office and the Sheriff’s Department K-9 Unit focusing on both intoxicated and drug impaired drivers.
Recently the prosecutor's office created a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) call out program to assist agencies in addressing individuals that are suspected to be under the influence of narcotics. The DREs are also utilized at the DWI checkpoints to assist in detecting drugged drivers.
Each year, impaired drivers are responsible for about a third of the deaths occurring on county roadways. To date in 2013, there have been 36 fatal crashes resulting in 38 deaths within the county.
Last year in New Jersey, 589 individuals lost their lives in motor vehicle-related crashes, down from 627 in 2011. The decline continues a downward trend in motor vehicle fatalities, highlighted by 2010 which had the lowest number of recorded motor vehicle deaths in the State since the 1940s.
Additional information on the “Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day” is available by logging on to www.brakesonfatalities.org.