Summit gets smart about pedestrian safety

SUMMIT, NJ — The city of Summit launched its monthly Street Smart campaign in partnership with TransOption on Tuesday, Sept. 6. The goal is to education the public about pedestrian safety and encourage positive change. Summit plans to work as a community to achieve a positive outcome.

A pre-campaign survey was issued to residents to test their current knowledge of pedestrian safety. Local merchants have campaign signs hanging in their windows to demonstrate their support. The press conference held on Tuesday to introduce Street Smart began with an introduction by TransOption President John Ciaffone.

“This is an eight week campaign that began with a pre-campaign survey to test awareness of public safety,” Ciaffone said. “This is an education program meant to encourage positive behavior by pedestrians and drivers.”

Campaign slogans include, “Heads Up, Phones Down,” and, “Check Your Vital Signs,” to remind pedestrians to follow street signs and use crosswalks. The city hopes for a reduction of injuries and fatalities caused by accidents. It will be collaborative effort to produce these results.

Mayor Nora Radest spoke to initiate the campaign. She also spoke to LocalSource on the phone to inform readers about the details of Street Smart.

“This campaign has been very successful in other municipalities,” Radest told LocalSource. “We began with a survey, and on Sept. 30 when the campaign resumes, we will distribute a follow-up survey to assess what changes have been made. From 2013 to 2015, Summit rated at No. 9 for the most accidents in Union County. A total of 34 accidents occurred in Summit in the past two years.”

An increase in police enforcement will most likely take place in the next month. They will monitor the behaviors of pedestrians, drivers and bikers during the campaign. Summit Police Chief Robert Weck also spoke at the press conference.

“Of the 34 accidents that occurred between 2013 to 2015, 85 percent resulted in injuries,” Weck said at the conference. “A total of 17,000 were injured in the state of New Jersey. Although the number of injuries have decreased in Summit over the years, we still rated at No. 9 in the county. We can do better.”

“TransOption will help alleviate the cost of additional police enforcement,” said Public Information Officer Amy Cairns told LocalSource during a phone conversation. “Citizens will receive tickets and citations or just a friendly warning to remind them to eliminate dangerous behavior such as walking or driving on the phone and not using crosswalks.”

“Tip sheets will be distributed by local businesses to remind citizens of the safety laws in place,” Radest told LocalSource. “At the conclusion of this campaign, a follow up survey will be distributed to determine what people learned and where we need to go from that point. There will also be a meeting with Police Chief Robert Weck to help analyze the data. ”

“Let’s take back-to-school as a time to take safety precautions and encourage positive behavior,” Radest said.