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New Jersey pedestrians have greater crash risk on older highways

Pedestrians who walk along older state highways are at a greater risk of being fatally struck by a motor vehicle, according to a new report. This increased pedestrian accident rate is present even on streets with sidewalks, indicating that New Jersey transportation need to do more to make streets safer for walkers and bicyclists.

The report, which was completed by the nonprofit watchdog group Tri-State Transportation Campaign, analyzed pedestrian accidents between 2008 and 2010. The group labeled eight New Jersey highways as the state's "most dangerous roads for walking," and encouraged the New Jersey Department of Transportation to consider making the roads more pedestrian-friendly during planned upgrades.

According to a DOT spokesman, many of New Jersey highways were simply not designed with pedestrians in mind when they were initially built. "They tend to be arterial roads that were built long ago for auto travel, linking distant destinations. Now they have shopping malls and developments built along them and they were never designed to accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians," he said. "It's a difficult task to build those accommodations after the fact."

However, under the DOT's new Complete Streets policy, updated and reconstructed roads will contain safety measures for pedestrians such as countdown traffic signals, better crosswalks and pedestrian islands for wide roads. But because it is difficult to retrofit highways when they are not undergoing major upgrades, it will take some time before all New Jersey streets become 'complete.'

If you or a family member has been hit by a car while walking or bicycling on a New Jersey road, please contact Breslin & Breslin for a free consultation with a personal injury attorney.

Source: Asbury Park Press, "Older NJ highways deadliest for pedestrians," Larry Higgs, Mar. 7, 2012

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