In light of a recent increase in motor vehicle accidents involving pedestrians in the borough, Fort Lee Police Chief Thomas O. Ripoli issued a statement to residents Tuesday urging them to take proper safety precautions “while navigating our streets.”
“Simple practices adopted by those on foot can significantly decrease the chance of being involved in an accident,” Ripoli says in the statement.
Included among those practices are the following:
- Use crosswalks and obey traffic lights
- Avoid using cell phones and headphones when crossing the street
- Wear bright-colored clothing if possible or add something reflective to darker clothing often worn in winter
- Be vigilant of your surroundings, traffic and cars pulling out of driveways, especially when walking familiar routes
- Parents should teach their kids proper pedestrian safety
- Kids should obey crossing guards
Ripoli goes on to remind residents that the borough participates in the state’s Pedestrian Safety grant, which he says is “designed to target motorists who do not observe a pedestrian’s right of way.”
But he also warns that Fort Lee police will be keeping a specific eye on pedestrians “in the coming weeks” to ensure that they too are following traffic laws, especially those related to crosswalks.
Residents with specific concerns like “dimly lit or potentially dangerous intersections,” are asked to contact the Fort Lee Police Department’s traffic division at 201-592-3515.
Below is Ripoli’s message to the community in its entirety:
On a daily basis, the traffic volume in Fort Lee leaves pedestrian traffic in danger of increased risk of injury. However, simple practices adopted by those on foot can significantly decrease the chance of being involved in an accident. First and foremost, please use crosswalks. The intersections in Fort Lee are well lit and cars expect to see pedestrians within the crosswalks, as opposed to someone crossing midblock. Also, please walk in accordance with the light cycles.
Pedestrians need to resist talking on their cell phones and/or taking their headphones off while crossing a street. These distractions can be catastrophic to the pedestrian who is too distracted to notice if a car is coming in their direction. It would also be beneficial to wear some kind of bright colored clothing. Most coats and jackets are in darker shades during the winter, but adding something that could reflect a headlight would increase the chance for a driver to see you during the night time hours.
Know your surroundings. Most of us take the same route to work everyday and tend to relax and be less vigilant when taking a familiar route. Pedestrians need to be aware of their surroundings and look for cars exiting driveways, as they are more concerned with watching for other cars rather than people on foot.
Parents should be diligent in educating their children in these common pedestrian safety practices. We have often seen children leaving school and ignoring crossing guards putting themselves at risk of injury.
The State of New Jersey offers a Pedestrian Safety grant, which the Borough of Fort participates in. This grant is typically designed to target motorists who do not observe a pedestrian’s right of way. As the Chief, I am instructing my officers in the coming weeks to focus not only on the motorists, but also on the pedestrians for enforcement of traffic laws, more specifically J-Walking (crossing mid block and not using crosswalks).
If there are any intersections that raise a public concern (such as dimly lit or potentially dangerous intersections) please contact our traffic division at 201-592-3515. The Fort Lee Police Department will work with the County and State Agencies in order to rectify any problems. As always, the safety of our residents is the Police Department’s primary concern. Please stay safe and stay aware.
Thomas O. Ripoli
Chief of Police