POLICING PARTNERSHIP FOR A SAFER CR 539 CONCLUDES WITH OVER 600 VEHICLE STOPS AND ZERO FATALITIES FOR THE 32 DAY EFFORT
Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato today announced the conclusion of his Safety/Enforcement Initiative to address the rash of eleven (11) fatal crashes and numerous serious accidents that had occurred from 2013 to July 31, 2015 along County Route 539.
Prosecutor Coronato stated, “The initiative raised significant awareness among the motoring public regarding the safety issues along CR539, but more important it has coordinated efforts by Ocean County Law Enforcement, Engineering and Road Departments to take important steps toward making commuting along CR539 safer”.
Since the August 15th start of the initiative, the partnering police agencies stopped a total of 652 vehicles during their coordinated saturation patrols, accounting for 278 summons issued and ten (10) arrests. Speeding summons topped the charts at 82, followed by 75 Non-moving violations issued, 70 other moving, 35 seat belt and 2 DWI. The participating departments were happy to observe that the majority of motorists were choosing to drive responsibly. There were no fatalities or accidents involving serious injury during the period.
The safety/enforcement initiative on CR 539 between Tuckerton and Plumsted Borough encompassed seven (7) municipal jurisdictions traversing 38 miles of roadway in Ocean County from Milepost 0 – 38. The road crosses through the towns of Little Egg Harbor, Stafford, Barnegat, Lacey, Manchester, Plumsted and Jackson. This two-lane highway runs southeast to northwest through Ocean County and is frequently used by local seniors, commuters traveling to the Trenton area, tourists looking to vacation along the Jersey Shore and a large amount of commercial trucks.
The planned response was the result of extensive meetings called for by Prosecutor Coronato with local police chiefs, county officers/officials, NJ State Police and the Ocean County Road/Engineering Departments to address the plague of crashes. Beyond the one month increased enforcement element, the plan includes Engineering and Education elements which will continue into the future. The crafted initiative was a coordinated multi-jurisdictional/agency effort supported by the Chiefs of Police and Department Heads from the following jurisdictions/agencies:
- Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office
- Ocean County Sheriff’s Department
- NJ State Police Troop “C” – Red Lion and Tuckerton Stations
- NJ State Police Troop “C” – Tactical Patrol Unit
- NJ State Police – Transportation Safety Bureau
- Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders
- Ocean County Road Department
- Ocean County Engineering Department
- Barnegat Police Department
- Jackson Police Department
- Lacey Police Department
- Little Egg Harbor Police Department
- Manchester Police Department
- Plumsted Police Department
- Stafford Police Department
- Tuckerton Police Department
The enforcement element of the initiative ran from August 15 – September 14, bringing vigilant and aggressive enforcement of all those motor vehicle moving and equipment violations that are major contributory causes to the crashes. These causes include, but are not limited to, Improper Passing, Excessive Speed, Driving While Under the Influence, Aggressive Driving, Improper Turning, Failing to Yield, Inattentive Driving, Disregard of Traffic Signal, Following Too Close and various commercial carrier violations such as overweight, equipment maintenance and brake pressure. Additionally as part of the enforcement efforts, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office personnel assigned to the detail utilized unmarked police vehicles to report any aggressive and erratic driving to operating marked units, all policing agencies were encouraged to utilize patrol vehicles equipped with Automated License Plate Readers, and Variable Message Signs were and will continue to be strategically placed along the roadway.
The engineering aspect of the initiative has not ended and will continue to review of the accidents and specific roadway dynamics to determine possible safety improvements. The Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders crafted plans will be implemented to make the proposed major safety upgrades to a 25-mile stretch of Route 539 from Little Egg Harbor to Plumsted in 2016. The project, estimated to cost $3.4 million, will be funded by the Federal Highway Administration’s High Risk Rural Road program. Construction is expected to begin in the spring, according to the Board of Freeholders. The improvements, as outlined from the board and its engineering staff, include:
- Rumble strips: Reduces centerline crossover motor vehicle accidents often caused by sleepy motorists or those traveling at excessive speeds.
- Raised pavement markers: These markers are fairly common on roadways today and are designed to increase nighttime visibility. They are typically placed along the center lines of a roadway and reflect the light from a motor vehicle’s headlights to outline the lanes of a highway in rural areas.
- All-weather reflective striping: Makes the lines on a roadway easier to see at night (like a cat’s eyes), particularly in bad weather conditions.
- Radar-activated LED (light-emitting diode) chevron signs: These signs will be placed in clusters at curves and will light up in a synchronous pattern when a motor vehicle approaches to outline the sharpness of the curve.
- High-friction road surface: This salmon-colored or reddish pavement is to be installed at six curves on Route 539. The road surface material used will be a thermo-setting polymer resin binder — epoxy, modified polyester or urethane, according to the federal government. Basically, it prevents a vehicle from skidding when its driver attempts to stop suddenly from a high rate of speed.
The education element will also continue to include signage, media postings, radio public service announcements, awareness posters and coordinated social media postings by all the partnering agencies. Prosecutor Coronato has directed all participating Chiefs to continue to be proactive in keeping media informed of crash stats and initiative developments.
The coordinated enforcement element has concluded, but policing agencies along CR539 will continue to make CR539 patrols a priority. Now that the partnership logistics and plans have been worked out, the coordinated enforcement element can be quickly reinstituted in the event of increased reports of accidents or dangerous driving behaviors. We continue to ask the motoring public to police themselves by simply driving responsibly.
PROSECUTOR CORONATO TAKES A MOMENT ROADSIDE OF CR539 TO THANK THE POLICING PARTNERS AND WISH THEM A SAFE PATROL
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