Burlington County awarded nearly $200,000 for Sheriff’s traffic safety programs

Burlington County Sheriff’s Department officers distribute education cards to motorists during a Pedestrian Decoy Enforcement detail earlier this month in Mount Holly. The traffic safety program is supported by a $30,000 grant the county received from the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety.

The Burlington County Sheriff’s Department announced three grant awards totaling $194,000 to support the department’s traffic safety initiatives throughout the county.

The grants were awarded by the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety to help fund the Sheriff’s Child Passenger Safety Seat, Comprehensive Traffic Safety and Pedestrian Decoy Enforcement programs, according to information provided by the county.

“As New Jersey’s largest county with portions of several major highways, including the New Jersey Turnpike, Garden State Parkway, Interstate 295 and Route 130, the Sheriff’s Department plays an integral role in both educating motorists and enforcing the state’s traffic safety laws,” Burlington County Sheriff Anthony Basantis said in the statement. “Receiving these competitive grants will allow us to continue our department’s life-saving traffic programs. Each one has a proven record of success in making our county a safer place for residents and visitors.”

Burlington County Commissioner Director Dan O’Connell said the grants would improve safety and save county taxpayer money.

“The Sheriff’s Department does a tremendous service for residents. Not only do they help keep them safe with these critical programs, but they also do an outstanding job obtaining grant funding to continue these initiatives without burdening our taxpayers,” O’Connell said in the statement.

Pedestrian safety

The county was awarded $30,000 for its Pedestrian Decoy Enforcement Program, which uses plain clothes officers in crosswalks to ensure motorists are complying with pedestrian crossing roads.

The Sheriff’s Department held two decoy education and enforcement operation in Mount Holly this month. During each detail, officers handed out 650 education cards to motorists and pedestrians warning of the potential penalties for violations of New Jersey crosswalk laws, according to the statement.

The Mount Holly operations were the first of several education and enforcement details the Sheriff’s Department plans to hold at various locations throughout the county in conjunction with municipal police departments. Educating residents about the laws can help prevent violations that result in pedestrian accidents, according to the statement.

Eleven pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in Burlington County last year, according to New Jersey State Police records.

“Every fatality is a tragedy, and it reinforces how important it is for law enforcement to help educate motorists and pedestrians about their shared responsibilities on our roads,” Burlington County Undersheriff James Kostoplis said in the statement.

Comprehensive Traffic Safety Program

The Sheriff’s Department also received a $128,000 grant to support its Comprehensive Traffic Safety Program, including its proactive traffic enforcement operation on Route 130.

The Comprehensive Traffic Safety Program is developed by Burlington County Traffic Safety Committee, which consists of officials from law enforcement, local governments, state and county agencies and nonprofits.

About $75,000 of the grant will be used for cooperative, multijurisdictional traffic enforcement on the 22.5-mile stretch of Route 130 through Burlington County, according to the statement.

Another $25,000 will be used specifically for proactive enforcement and education details in the Burlington City School Zone, an area of Route 130 through the city near Burlington City High School and the Wilbur Watts Intermediate School. The details will be held from 7-9 a.m. and 2-4 p.m. when most students are traveling to and from school.

The remaining $28,000 of the grant will continue other important traffic safety programs, including defensive driving classes, crossing guard training, bicycle safety and pedestrian safety education, according to the statement.

“Traffic safety is everyone’s responsibility, and the Sheriff’s Department will continue to work with local police departments to help improve public awareness and enforcement on Route 130 and other parts of the county,” Kostoplis said in the statement. “By working together, we can help make sure our roads are safe for everyone to use.”

Child safety

The third grant awarded to the county is for $36,000 to support the Sheriff’s Child Passenger Safety Program.

Through the program, the Sheriff’s Department conducts child safety seat inspections to every Wednesday at the County Administration Building from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5-8 p.m.

The service is offered free-of-charge and no appointment is needed.

The department also plans to offer inspections at various sites throughout the county.

“Our department has performed more than 20,000 inspections and over 90% have revealed at least one mistake with the child seat’s installation. That underscores the critical need for this program and with educating parents and caregivers on the steps needed to keep children safe while traveling on our roadways,” Basantis said in the statement. “We hope parents will take advantage of this safety program. Twenty minutes to safely install a car seat is all it takes to have the peace of mind knowing a car seat has been installed correctly by one of our trained technicians.”

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