Introduced by Senator Diegnan and Assemblyman Karabinchak, the new legislation would establish a Vision Zero Task Force to study, examine, and review all aspects of traffic safety with a particular focus on access, equity, and mobility for all road users using the safe system approach while also advising the Governor, the Legislature, and the Department of Transportation regarding policies, programs, research, and priorities to help achieve the goal of zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries. The bill comes amidst rising traffic deaths in New Jersey. This year, New Jersey has seen 318 traffic related deaths, which is an 18% increase over last year.
“New Jersey is committed to improving road safety to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries from crashes,” Diegnan and Karabinchak said in a joint statement. “Even with those efforts, traffic crashes on our state’s roadways increased in 2021 for the third consecutive year, claiming nearly 700 lives. New Jersey is the country’s most densely populated state and among our nation’s most traveled. Continued efforts to evaluate traffic safety and transportation system designs with the goal of reducing crashes must be a top priority for residents of and visitors to our state.”
“Since Jersey City became the first municipality in New Jersey to adopt Vision Zero three years ago, our leadership has influenced others around the nation to join in this critical effort. As a result of this multidisciplinary approach to creating safe streets, traffic fatalities in Jersey City are down 40% compared to last year. A Vision Zero Task Force on the state-level is critical to expand upon these efforts and would devote the resources and attention needed to achieve safer streets for all road users across the entire state,” said Mayor Steven M. Fulop, City of Jersey City.
“Establishing this task force would be another example of Senator Diegnan and Assemblyman Karabinchak’s leadership in combating the epidemic of traffic violence on NJ roadways. They have shown time and again their commitment to ensuring NJ streets are safe for all roadway users,” said Metuchen Borough Council President Jason Delia.
“The epidemic of death on our roadways is an unacceptable burden on the first responder community. I carry the victims I have cared for with me in my heart every day, and I worry constantly for the safety of my own children. A Vision Zero Task Force will set a course towards reducing traffic deaths. Zero is the only acceptable number” Stephen Dunn – Firefighter/ EMT, Rescue Co. 1, Elizabeth, NJ.
“A Vision Zero task force is needed to finally prioritize the safety of our friends, families, and loved ones. We cannot accept this steady increase of serious injuries and fatalities as normal. We need a dedicated plan before more innocent lives are lost. Until it directly happens to your family, many won’t take this seriously. But for those of us who have, we feel this impact of our unsafe roadways every day – and this needs to change,” said Kate O’Connor, Families for Safe Streets.
“With a historic increase in transportation infrastructure funding becoming available to New Jersey through the IIJA, this Task Force will help ensure that the investments we’re making now make our roads safe for all and end traffic fatalities and serious injuries while also helping the state meet its climate and equity goals,” said Sonia Szczesna, Director of Active Transportation.
“This first-ever state bill, when passed, will be a step towards advancing our goal of zero traffic deaths and serious injuries on our roadways. Families for Safe Streets NJ members continue to fight for safe streets, so no other family has to suffer as we have”, said Sangeeta Badlani, who lost her 11-year-old son Nikhil in a car crash in 2011, Founder of Nikhil Badlani Foundation and Families for Safe Streets NJ.
“As we face a crisis of increased traffic violence as well as opportunities to address these challenges with increased infrastructure funding, establishing this NJ Task Force will provide coordinated statewide leadership to advance our goals of zero traffic deaths and safe and equitable mobility for all,” said Debra Kagan, Executive Director, New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition.
“We look forward to the Vision Zero task force devising an equitable, data driven action plan that uses a safe system-based approach to Vision Zero. Reducing traffic deaths requires cooperation and collaboration between government agencies and political commitment from elected officials,” said John Boyle, Research Director the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.
Source: Vision Zero New Jersey Alliance