Route 539 safety initiative in Ocean County begins Thursday
As crash data for Route 539 in Ocean County begins to pile up, County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato enlists local, county and state law enforcement to revive a safety initiative that kept the highway death-free for a period of 2016.
Sixteen police agencies, road engineering experts and elected officials pool their efforts in a safety-saturation initiative that begins Thursday, July 20, and continues through Sunday, August 6.
Patrols will take to the two-lane highway in marked and unmarked vehicles. Officers in unmarked cars will contact marked units with reports of driving infractions and dangers. Variable message signs will dot the road, and automated license plate readers will be employed as well.
Repeating the formula that succeeded in 2016, the focus will be on moving and equipment-related offenses that contribute to crashes, including improper passing, speeding, driving while under the influence of alcohol or narcotics, aggressive, inattentive and distracted driving, turning and yielding violations, disregard of traffic signals, and tailgating.
Truckers should pay attention to weight restrictions, equipment malfunctions and brake pressure, among other considerations.
The point, Coronato says, is to reinforce responsible driving as a habit, not as an exception, noting that in September 2016, only a month after the program that kept the highway free of fatalities, three people died in a crash in Little Egg Harbor.
Most recently, a motorcyclist and his rider were rushed to trauma centers July 16, following a three-vehicle collision in the Whiting section of Manchester.
"Though the coordinated enforcement element will conclude in August, policing agencies along CR539 will continue to make CR539 patrols a priority," Coronato said in prepared comments.
"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."
Municipal police in Tuckerton, Little Egg Harbor, Stafford, Barnegat, Lacey, Manchester, Plumsted and Jackson will take part along with Ocean County Sheriff's officers and Prosecutor's investigators, New Jersey State Police from the Troop C Red Lion and Tuckerton stations, their tactical patrol unit and transportation safety bureau.
The program has support from the Ocean County Road and Engineering Departments and Board of Freeholders. The Road and Engineering departments completed installation of high-friction road surfaces that increase traction, midline rumble strips, raised pavement parkers, reflective road stripes, radar-activated LED-lit sequential signs that warn of sharp curves
Of all the elements deployed in the safety initiative, you are the most critical one. Drive as if your life depended on it. It probably does.