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Bill Aiming to End Traffic-Related Deaths Advances

Legislation sponsored by Assemblymembers Karabinchak, Allen and Carter would establish the “New Jersey Target Zero Commission” to study traffic safety measures

(TRENTON) – Legislation that would establish a New Jersey Target Zero Commission to study, examine, and review traffic safety measures with a focus on access, equity, and mobility for all road users cleared the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee last week. Bill A1476, sponsored by Assemblymembers Robert J. Karabinchak, John Allen and Linda S. Carter marks a significant step in the State’s efforts to end traffic-related deaths.

Safety advocates describe traffic fatalities as a public health crisis in New Jersey. Fatalities continue to rise across the State at an alarming rate per the latest findings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s fatality analysis reporting system. New Jersey stands out as the most hazardous state for pedestrians nationwide, with almost twice the national average for pedestrian fatalities.

“Advancing this legislation marks an important part of our efforts to address this pressing public health crisis,” said Assemblyman Karabinchak (D-Middlesex). “The commission will help us plan and allocate resources to prevent further accidents until we reach zero, and put an end to pedestrian fatalities.”

“We have to shift away from the belief that these fatalities are an inevitability. Instead, we must focus on preventing injuries and collisions by improving our road systems and implementing effective policies,” said Assemblyman Allen (D-Hudson). “The commission offers a pathway to eradicating traffic injuries and fatalities, fostering an environment that prioritizes the well-being of all citizens.”

Under the bill, a commission comprising of 13 members would have the responsibility, among other tasks, to develop a comprehensive and coordinated action plan aimed at achieving the goal of eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries on all public roadways by 2040.

The commission would also identify short- and long-term data-driven strategies with measurable goals, and advise the Governor, the Legislature, and the Department of Transportation (DOT) regarding policies, programs, research, and priorities to help achieve the goal of eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2040. The bill also tasks the commission with creating and maintaining an interactive website that would include items such as the commission’s plans, progress reports, meeting agendas and minutes, and educational materials about target zero.

“This initiative is a crucial step forward in our efforts to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries, creating safer streets for all road users including pedestrians – who may be our children, our parents, or even ourselves,” said Assemblywoman Carter (D-Somerset, Union). “By using data-driven strategies to reach Target Zero, I believe we can reach our goal by working together.”

The commission’s “Target Zero” objective to eliminate traffic-related deaths draws inspiration from Sweden’s Vision Zero policy. With an emphasis on designing road systems and policies to mitigate accidents and fatalities, Vision Zero distributes responsibility for pedestrian safety among road users, designers, engineers, and policymakers.