BRICK – The township police department is always working to improve pedestrian and traffic safety and prevent tragedies such as the two fatalities in 2007 on Chambers Bridge Road.
In January of that year, a pedestrian was struck and killed by a car in the area of the Brick Housing Authority and the ShopRite complex. In October 2007, another pedestrian was struck and killed by a police car in the same area. Neither of the victims was using the marked crosswalks there.
In 2009, a fence was constructed on Chambers Bridge Road which has helped to ensure that pedestrians crossing in the area of the Housing Authority use the crosswalks.
“I’m sure that this has helped prevent tragedies,” said Brick Police Chief James Riccio in a recent email.
“There are many roads in town where people cross and fail to use the crosswalks, which puts them in danger of being struck by vehicles, but we can’t put up fences all over town,” he said. “People need to obey the law and use common sense.”
So far, in 2018, there have been 18 pedestrian accidents and seven bicycle accidents, said Brick Police Sergeant Neal Pedersen, who is the Traffic Safety Unit Supervisor of Crash Investigation and Reconstruction.
Two of the accidents were serious enough for the Traffic Unit to be called out for an extensive investigation, he said.
“The Traffic Unit is called out when additional expertise is needed for serious crashes,” Pedersen explained. “They make detailed diagrams to determine speed, fault – and sometimes it’s criminal.”
On March 14, a hit-and-run on Herbertsville Road near Maple Avenue resulted in serious injuries to Tyrone Stafford, 39.
Brick police tracked down and arrested Michael Beilis, 75, of Brick, who was charged with leaving the scene of an accident causing serious injury, and failure to report an accident, Pedersen said.
The second serious pedestrian accident this year occurred on April 16, when William P. Johnson, 52, was hit on Lanes Mill Road and killed by a car being driven by Moshe Wachsman, 35, of Lakewood.
Brick assigns regular police officers to specialty details to combat aggressive driving, intoxicated driving and pedestrian safety, Pedersen said.
Some of the areas of concern for pedestrian safety here include crosswalks and big shopping centers, like Costco, Walmart and Target.
“Brick Plaza is an area of concern because of the amount of people, bus stops, and there are so many main roads that come together there – Chambers Bridge, Route 70, Brick Boulevard, Cedar Bridge and Hooper Avenue,” he said.
The Kohl’s/ShopRite Plaza is another area of concern since the aisles are tight and there is ongoing construction, he said.
“It hasn’t been easy to navigate that parking lot this year,” Pedersen said.
The police department has used some $30,000 in NHTHA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) public safety grants for selective enforcement, including Click It or Ticket, Aggressive Driver, Over the Limit/Under Arrest and cell phone usage while driving, he said.
Some of the grant money can be used for educational purposes or to buy equipment, such as the purchase of a traffic speed sign that tells a driver their speed in a digital display. In 2017 the police department purchased a drone that is being used in serious and fatal crashes.
Those specialty police details are being utilized for pedestrian safety in the shopping center parking lots, where drivers are being ticketed for careless driving and reckless driving, Pedersen said.
Pedestrian safety during Halloween is always a concern for the police department, he said, and there are extra police officers on duty all night to specifically target neighborhoods favored by children trick-or-treating, such as in Lake Riviera, where much of the southern end has no sidewalks.
“Another option for the kids are events like Trunk-or-Treat where they walk from car to car, which has cut down on the trick-or-treaters in the neighborhoods,” Pedersen said.
Thousands attend the annual Trunk-or-Treat which will be held on Friday Oct. 19 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Drum Point Sports Complex.