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OFFICIAL NEWS RELEASE

 
 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Sgt. Kevin Rehmann x6515
Sgt. Gerald Lewis x6516
Tpr. Stephen Jones x6513

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
August 28, 2003


 
 
NEW JERSEY STATE POLICE WORK AROUND THE CLOCK TO HELP MAKE A SAFE LABOR DAY HOLIDAY WEEKEND

     West Trenton, N.J. - Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, today announced that State Troopers will be out in force this weekend with extra patrols to assist stranded motorists and look for aggressive, drowsy or drinking drivers. Fuentes tasked troopers to concentrate on the root behaviors that most often contribute to fatal accidents.

     "We will hold drivers accountable if they engage in the behaviors that lead to highway deaths," Colonel Fuentes said. The Superintendent explained that these behaviors include driving without seatbelts, speeding, driving aggressively, distracted driving and, of course, driving while intoxicated.

     Another important factor contributing to accidents is fatigue. Many travelers try to squeeze every last minute out of the long Labor Day weekend, and end up driving while exhausted. The results of a new survey by the U.S. Department of Transportation shows that 37% of the driving population admitted to nodding off at least once while driving. Forty-three percent of those incidents occurred between noon and 9:00 p.m., so it's not just late night or early morning drivers who are prone to fall asleep.;

     Inattentive driving is perhaps the single most unreported factor leading to motor vehicle crashes. Much attention has been given to mobile phone usage, but other common distractions include mobile handheld computers, map reading, sound system adjustments, built-in video/game monitors and dealing with children in the back seat.

     The State Police will continue to target drivers and their passengers who are not wearing seat belts including children not properly secured in approved child restraint safety seats. Although the seatbelt compliance rate has increased to 81% in New Jersey, almost two-thirds of the traffic fatalities in the state come from the ranks of non-seat belted occupants. People come up with all sorts of reasons why they don't want to wear seat belts, but these numbers provide an insurmountable argument in favor of them.

     The stepped-up enforcement will be in effect in all State Police patrol areas, including the New Jersey Turnpike, Garden State Parkway, Atlantic City Expressway and all interstate highways.

     The 2003 Labor Day holiday officially begins at 12:01 a.m. on Fri., Aug. 29 and continues through midnight, Mon., Sept. 1. During the 2002 Labor Day holiday, 6 persons lost their lives in 6 motor vehicle accidents along New Jersey roadways.

     The State Police records show that 441 people have died in traffic-related accidents so far this year (Jan. 1 through August 23, 2003) compared to 482 highway deaths recorded during the same period last year (2002). Superintendent Fuentes hopes that the public will do their part to bring the traffic fatality rate even farther below last year's level.

     "We want people to have as much fun as they can stand, but then to consider the ride home a serious undertaking worthy of a driver's planning and attention," said Fuentes. The Colonel urges motorists to use these common sense safety tips: use designated drivers when necessary, get enough sleep, leave a little early and pay attention.

     

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