Police Department Launches Traffic Safety Program

Mayor Mark A. Smith announced that the Bayonne Police Department has launched a traffic safety program known as HARPS (Highlighting Accident and Pedestrian Safety). Mayor Smith said, “The goal of the program is to safe lives and prevent injuries by stopping accidents. I would like to commend the Police Department for planning and carrying out this important public safety campaign.” Police Chief Ralph Scianni said, “HARPS is intended to coincide with the start of the 2013-2014 school year. Enforcement is especially important in school zones, the neighborhoods that surround schools, where large numbers of students travel each day that classes are in session.” Public Safety Director Jason O’Donnell said, “Children are our most precious resource. It is vitally important for drivers to understand that they must be particularly careful in school zones, around school buses, and at crosswalks where children are in transit.”
The Police Department is using both marked and unmarked cars to follow school buses. The cars are shadowing the buses, in order to ensure compliance with the legal requirement for vehicles to stop for school buses that do pick-up and drop-off. Chief Scianni reminded motorists that that could receive five points on their licenses for improper passing.
At the start of the school year, public school parents and guardians received a letter from Dr. Patricia McGeehan, the Superintendent of Schools, regarding pick-up and drop-off of students at schools. No double-parking is permitted in front of schools. Safety units will be enforcing this policy around Board of Education properties, in order to expedite the flow of traffic. Under a new Board of Education policy, students can walk directly into schools when they arrive in the morning, so parents and guardians do not need to linger in front of schools waiting for their children to enter school at a later time. There is information about the pick-up and drop-off policies in the student handbook. Chief Scianni urged parents and guardians to familiarize themselves with this information.
For the HARPS initiative, the Police Department has placed electronic variable message signs (VMS) around the community to remind residents about various safety issues. Chief Scianni explained, “The goal of the signs and other informational activities is to educate the public to prevent violations and ensure compliance with the laws.”
A part of the HARPS initiative, Operation Shadow, enforces traffic laws concerning speed; seatbelts on children; failing to yield; making right turns where prohibited at intersections; and improper discharge of passengers, especially in school zones. Operation Shadow is under way, and its assigned officers have been issuing summonses. Chief Scianni stressed that the speed limit is 25 miles per hour on all local streets, including such main roads as Avenue C and Kennedy Boulevard.
Scianni said that jaywalking is a concern. The Police Department’s goal is to encourage students and all other pedestrians to cross only at designated corners, and when they have green lights and walk signals in their favor.
The Police Department is carrying out HARPS initiative enforcement around the clock, Scianni said. Police units are enforcing traffic safety regulations in school zones and other locations, including Route 440, during both daytime and nighttime. The police will be enforcing the law on both main avenues and side streets Explaining the assignment given to police officers, Scianni said, “These units will be conducting year-round operations in an effort to reduce injury and property damage.”
The educational component of HARPS is “very important,” Scianni said. The Police Department would like to educate the public about the need for voluntary compliance from motorists, especially with regard to such issues as double-parking. That practice, Scianni said, obstructs other motor vehicles and can prevent emergency vehicles from responding to accidents and disasters. Cops in Schools officers will be conducting talks throughout the school district, discussing traffic and pedestrian safety with students. Similar presentations can be made available to senior citizen groups and PTO’s/PTA’s.
The police will stress to senior citizens that the sun sets earlier during autumn and winter months. For that reason, it is especially important for senior citizens to cross the street at intersections where there are traffic lights. Chief Scianni suggested that seniors and others with mobility devices place reflective material on their mobility chairs, canes, and walkers. Reflective materials on these devices help drivers see senior and disabled pedestrians during evening hours.
On Route 440, HARPS will use radar enforcement, and will operate red light units from the Bayonne Bridge to the City Line.
The police are carrying out a citywide inspection of street lights in conjunction with Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G). The goal of the inspection is to put any darkened street lights back into operation to improve safety.
The Police Department worked with the Bayonne Public Works Department to ensure that yellow safety lines and crosswalks by schools were repainted in anticipation of the start of classes in September.
Chief Scianni concluded, “The HARPS Program is emphasizing accident reduction, pedestrian safety, and school zone safety. These goals will motivate our officers as we seek to prevent injuries and save lives.”