Lettiere gears up highway safety efforts
unveils initial "SAFETY FIRST" signs along I-78
(Bridgewater) - Transportation Commissioner Jack Lettiere today unveiled the first of 500 new safety awareness signs to be installed on all state highways as a part of the department's ongoing highway safety campaign.
Flanked by members of the New Jersey Highway Safety Task Force, State and local law enforcement and elected officials, Lettiere reiterated his call for motorists to do their part and recognize that safety also lies within the hands of drivers.
"Highway safety is goal that we can only reach together - the Department of Transportation, law enforcement and motorists," said Lettiere. "Public awareness is a key component and these signs will go a long way toward saving lives on New Jersey's highways."
Following two fatal motor vehicle accidents on I-78 over Memorial Day weekend, Lettiere called an emergency meeting the Highway Safety Task Force. Lettiere announced an additional $500,000 in increased funding to begin installation of 500 "Safety First" awareness signs along all New Jersey highways, beginning with the I-78 corridor. Lettiere also announced the acceleration of a $15 million program to install 100 miles of median barriers throughout the state to prevent cross-over accidents.
The "Safety First" signs, which NJDOT will install over the next year on all state highways include several different messages such as Buckle Up, Keep Your Distance and the successful #77 aggressive driver hotline.
On May 27, following the I-78 fatals, Lettiere also ordered that all electronic signs on state highways, the NJ Turnpike and the Parkway, post the #77 message. Calls to the State Police dispatcher have jumped dramatically since. On May 27, 141 calls were received, but the number jumped to 357 on May 28, 473 on May 29, 619 on May 30 and 743 on May 31. During the previous week dispatchers averaged 120 calls daily.
"Getting our message out to the public is a key component to our highway safety efforts," said Lettiere. "In addition to an increase in signage, we are utilizing several other mediums, including Variable Message Signs (VMS), Highway Advisory Radio (HAR), and the NJDOT web page and printed materials, to communicate our " Safety First" messages to the driving public."
The Department of Transportation has taken the lead on a number of new highway safety projects such as identifying "Safe Corridors" and establishing Safety Impact Teams to investigate necessary improvements; expanding the 100-mile safety barrier program throughout the state, allocating $20 million for engineering and technological improvements, adding 500 miles of raised pavement reflectors over the next two years, recording driver safety public safety announcements, and expanding driver education programs.