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New Jersey city to enforce laws to protect pedestrians

Because pedestrians should be as safe as possible when they are out walking, the city of Hawthorne's police department is expanding its efforts to both enforce traffic laws and educate drivers about pedestrians' rights. The overall goal is prevent pedestrian accidents.

According to one patrolman, by modifying drivers' behavior, the city can reduce the numbers of pedestrian fatalities and injuries. This effort comes after the state saw a three-percent increase in pedestrian deaths in 2011; these fatalities now make up 14 percent of all traffic-related deaths. If no effort were made to improve pedestrian safety, one pedestrian would be injured every eight minutes and another would die every twp hours.

Probably the biggest problem that requires driver education concerns crosswalks. New Jersey law states that when a pedestrian is entering, walking in and leaving a crosswalk, a vehicle must remain stopped to let the pedestrian pass. Failure to yield can lead to a $200 fine, insurance surcharges, possible community service and a two-point addition to a motorist's driver's license.

Pedestrian accidents are extremely dangerous because of the lack of protection a pedestrian has against a large, moving vehicle. Broken bones, internal organ and brain damage and spinal injuries are all common injuries that can result from accidents. Drivers are usually left unscathed. Fortunately, this type of accident is avoidable if a driver follows basic traffic rules. Yielding to a pedestrian for a few seconds is all that is required. The motorist can then be on his or her way.

A Newark pedestrian who is injured because a driver fails to yield right of way may file a personal injury lawsuit to hold a driver accountable. Such a claim can lead to compensation to pay for the medical expenses that follow from an accident.

Source: The Gazette, "Hawthorne Police Officers Focusing On Pedestrian Safety," Kristine Cattafi, Oct. 23, 2013

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