How Safe is Your Kid’s Walk to School?
New Jersey has hordes of children walking or biking to and from school each day, but their safety is not guaranteed.
Many school districts across the state have no busing in place, usually for budgetary reasons. However, it's an ongoing project to improve the conditions of kids' routes to school and home.
Ideally, before a district decides to cut busing, it works with the municipality to limit the dangers on nearby roads, but according to Leigh Ann Von Hagen with New Jersey Safe Routes to School, that's not always the case.
"Speeding is probably the number one issue," Von Hagen said. "There's a whole toolbox of ways to address speeding traffic and to get people to slow down in school zones."
Speed bumps and crossing guards are the obvious solutions, but Von Hagen said a popular move in many New Jersey towns is the installation of radar feedback signs. They tell a motorist how fast they're driving when near a school zone.
There has also been an increase in the number of raised intersections, slowing the speed of traffic.
Von Hagen pointed to Collingswood, Garfield and Montclair as good examples of municipalities with safe walking routes for students.
According to the New Jersey State Police, there were 170 pedestrian deaths on the state's roads in 2014. Nine involved minors.
Legislation announced in April by state Sen. Jeff Van Drew and Assemblyman Bob Andrzejczak would require school districts to provide transportation for students who are facing hazardous conditions while traveling to and from school. The state would be responsible for reimbursing any district for the added transportation costs.
Responding to the proposed legislation, a spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Transportation said communities are encouraged to apply for Safe Routes to School grants to help ensure students are able to safely get to school.