South Orange Police to Begin Crosswalk Safety Sting Operation
Thursday, September 5, 2013 • 7:18am
SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – The South Orange Police Department has received a Pedestrian Safety Grant which will be used to fund overtime pay to officers who will be participating in an initiative to enforce automobile safety at pedestrian crosswalks, according to Police Chief James Chelel.
“Cars driving right through crosswalks when pedestrians are trying to cross the street is a problem here, but not only in South Orange,” said Chelel. “All of the surrounding communities and all up and down the East Coast, this is an issue.” Chelel pointed out that on the West Coast, pedestrian safety is much more ingrained in the culture. Drivers are accustomed to stopping at crosswalks to allow pedestrians to cross.
Chelel plans to deploy undercover officers as decoy pedestrians at various crosswalks throughout South Orange. Drivers who fail to stop will be issued tickets by other officers who will be stationed just beyond the checkpoints.
“This program should raise awareness of the issue,” Chelel said. He anticipates the initiative to begin in two or three weeks and said the $14,000 grant should allow them to continue through next June.
The penalty for not yielding to a pedestrian in a crosswalk is $200 and two points against a driver’s license. Judges also have the option of sentencing violators to community service for up to 15 days. If a pedestrian is struck by the vehicle, a convicted driver will pay a higher fine of up to $500 and could be imprisoned for as much as 25 days.
The program in South Orange will focus much of its attention on South Orange Avenue, where crosswalks are clearly marked and drivers are notorious for ignoring pedestrians. Chelel hopes this program will go a long way toward changing drivers’ attitudes about crosswalk safety and make the village more friendly to pedestrians.