New Year, Old Advice
State Police Urge Citizens to Plan for Safe New Years Celebrations
West Trenton, NJ - Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, is recommending that New Jerseyans enter the New Years holiday with an eye on personal safety. This is a holiday typically connected with toasts and parties, and all too often with drinking and driving. This year, there is the increased homeland security threat level to occupy police attention. There are even more state troopers working through New Years 2003 than during the usual holiday period.
"We have all available state troopers working hard to keep our citizens safe. In turn, we are asking citizens to take responsibility for safety concerns within their control," said Colonel Fuentes. "That means no drinking and driving, staying alert for suspicious activity, and taking common sense steps to prepare for the unexpected."
Governor McGreevey has directed state troopers to bolster security forces at numerous transportation and critical infrastructure sites throughout the state during the code orange threat level. Troopers will be working, both in uniform and in plain clothes, on a variety of counter-terrorism efforts. In addition to these deployments, many extra troopers will be patrolling the state's roadways to assist with the expected New Years traffic.
Colonel Fuentes is asking travelers to plan for delays in their holiday trips. Security measures, coupled with extra volume, will likely create slow going through bridges, tunnels, train stations and airports. While not trying to discourage people from their News Years plans, he asks that people increase the amount of travel time and preparation for any trip.
A few common sense tips to increase your chances of a trouble-free trip include:
- If you will consume alcohol, arrange for a designated driver or an overnight stay
- Keep up with basic vehicle maintenance, which includes checking your headlights and taillights, windshield wipers, tires and brakes
- Know where you are going and bring detailed maps to help get you there
- Decide on a meeting time and place in case you are separated from your family or friends
- Establish an emergency communications plan with family or friends
- Collect some basic emergency supplies
State Police will be assisting stranded motorists with the help of Department of Transportation road service trucks. Troopers will also be targeting drivers who violate the laws of the road including those who drive aggressively, carelessly, without seatbelts or under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
Last year there were 12 traffic fatalities in 11 separate accidents during the two-day New Years holiday period. A staggering six of those killed had a blood alcohol level well in excess of the legal limit. Three of those six were pedestrians who were struck by vehicles-a statistic to which New Years revelers of the walking variety should pay close attention.
"We see the heartbreaking result when alcohol consumption intersects with motor vehicles," said Colonel Fuentes. "In an effort to stem the tide of holiday fatalities, our troopers will aggressively enforce the state's drinking and driving laws."
There have been 703 traffic fatalities in 2003 through December 28th. That is a disappointing number, even though it is a significant 8.6 percent lower than the 769 deaths experienced on New Jersey roads during the same period in 2002. The State Police have initiated supplemental traffic initiatives this year that focus on aggressive driving on the most used sections of highway during peak travel hours.
The official New Years holiday traffic period for 2003 has been federally defined as beginning at 6:00 p.m., December 31st and continuing to midnight, January 1st.
More personal and family safety information can be found
on the New Jersey Homeland Security website. The New Jersey
State Police website (www.njsp.org) has a link to that site
under the Office of Emergency Management icon.
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