New Jersey Bicycle and Pedestrian Resource Center releases new report finding road infrastructure contributes to pedestrian fatalities

April 20, 2015
The New Jersey Bicycle and Pedestrian Resource Center, managed by the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center’s (VTC) Pedestrian and Bicycle Practice Group, today announced the results of a study investigating the factors contributing to fatal pedestrian crashes in New Jersey. The final report, “Road Infrastructure as a Contributing Factor to Pedestrian Fatalities in New Jersey” was part of a yearlong study into pedestrian fatalities in New Jersey during 2012. The study included an analysis of police reports and a review of the infrastructure present at the crash sites.

Pedestrian fatalities account for a large fraction of crash fatalities in the state of New Jersey. In 2012, reported pedestrian fatalities accounted for 26.5% of all crash fatalities, the highest proportion in the nation. The preliminary estimate is that 169 pedestrians were killed in 2014. Reducing the number of pedestrian fatalities is a major objective, and this report looks into how poorly designed road and pedestrian infrastructure contributes to pedestrian fatalities.

The study found that:

  • There are concerns about the accuracy of the number of deaths reported:
    • 8% of the reported pedestrian deaths in the state database, which are reported to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), were in violation of the definitions specified by NHTSA;
    • 15% of the pedestrian deaths reported in 2012 do not meet the publically understood definition of a pedestrian as a person traveling by foot; and
    • There are many opportunities for errors in the data to be introduced, from the crash scene to the reporting system to the public databases. This affects efforts to improve safety at crash locations.
  • There are concerns over incomplete or inconsistent police reports:
    • Officers sometimes lack tools and training to fully investigate the collision and therefore leave out important crash details.
  • Roadway infrastructure can be improved to help prevent deaths. The report notes the following problems found near the locations of the fatalities:
    • Lack of safe pedestrian sidewalks to and from commercial areas;
    • Roads designed to promote high speeds in areas heavily used by pedestrians;
    • Insufficient lighting along roads and in crosswalks;
    • Poor visibility at crosswalks, including drivers parked too closely to crosswalks which block the views of pedestrians and oncoming traffic; and
    • Some NJ TRANSIT bus stops lack sidewalk connections.
The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) is committed to making roads safer for all road users, including drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists. While NJDOT has been a strong supporter of “Complete Streets” policies, which encourage the construction of facilities that are safe and accessible to pedestrians, there are still thousands of miles of roadways in New Jersey that feature outdated and unsafe designs.

A copy of the full report can be downloaded through this link, including a summary and analysis of every pedestrian death in New Jersey during 2012:

https://njbikeped.org/road-infrastructure-as-a-contributing-factor-to-pedestrian-fatalities-in-new-jersey-2015/
The New Jersey Bicycle and Pedestrian Resource Center (BPRC) assists public officials, transportation and health professionals, and the public in creating a safer and more accessible walking and bicycling environment through primary research, education, and dissemination of information about best practices in policy and design. The Center is supported by the New Jersey Department of Transportation through funds provided by the Federal Highway Administration.

For questions on the report, contact Charles Brown at charles.brown@ejb.rutgers.edu, and for more information on the New Jersey Bicycle and Pedestrian Resource Center visit http://njbikeped.org.

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