Amazing. Absolutely amazing.

There have been 24 more pedestrian deaths in New Jersey so far this year than in 2008 — and traffic-safety officials can’t figure out why.

“We’ve thrown the kitchen sink at it,” said Pam Fischer, director of the state Division of Highway Traffic Safety.

Do you think it might have something to do with the increased enforcement of a decades-old law that gives pedestrians the right of way when in a crosswalk? The law was virtually ignored for years. Whatever the statutes said, pedestrians were taught to stop, look both ways and wait until no cars were coming. It worked pretty well. Then the state started handing out grants for enforcing the crosswalk law — in the name of pedestrian safety, if you can believe it.

 All of a sudden, streets were full of pedestrians stepping into crosswalks — and into traffic. Why not? The cars have to stop to let you cross. The law says so. The signs say so. Except they don’t. Not always, or even often. Sometimes a car headed in one direction stops. But the car headed in another doesn’t. And any car that does stop to let a pedestrian cross runs the risk of getting rear-ended.

The Press has run dozens of letters pointing out how dangerous this law is. A friend who is a police officer stopped me on the street to tell me how dangerous this law is.

Everybody seems to get it except state traffic officials.

The kitchen sink isn’t working, folks.

Go back to teaching pedestrians to look both ways and wait for traffic to clear before crossing, and who knows? Just maybe fewer pedestrians will get killed.


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