Police Chief: Safety tips part of broader approach to address vehicular crashes in South Brunswick

In efforts to combat the increase in serious and fatal vehicular crashes around South Brunswick, the police department has been issuing safe driving tips every Friday since late September.

The tips are part of the police department’s traffic safety initiative, which began on Sept. 30 through the department’s Nixle alerts.

In addition to the safe driving tips, the police department also offers traffic enforcement details each week for certain locations in the township, which are in addition to regular routine traffic enforcement, according to the police department.

Police Chief Raymond Hayducka announced the safe driving tips as part of a larger multi-prong approach to address the increase in serious and fatal vehicle crashes in the township.

On Sept. 19, a 21-year-old Monroe woman, who was a front seat passenger in a vehicle, was killed in a fatal motor vehicle crash on Route 130 near Deans Rhode Hall Road.

On Aug. 2, a fatal motor vehicle crash on Route 522 at the intersection near Kingston Lane killed a father of two and critically injured his children.

On July 28, a 48-year-old Dayton man was charged with motor vehicle summonses in connection to a fatal motorcycle crash that claimed the life of Helmetta Fire Chief Christopher Acs. The fire chief’s motorcycle was struck as he was traveling northbound on Georges Road on July 11.

On June 15, Dean Battaglia, a longtime employee of the South Brunswick School District, was fatally struck by a vehicle while spraying weeds at Crossroads North Middle School. In July, an 18-year-old Monmouth Junction woman was charged with the fatal hit and run.

Hayducka announced the department’s approach on Sept. 23 following the fatal crash on Sept. 19. The approach includes community engagement, education and enforcement.

“Traffic deaths are on the rise around the state and nation, and we must address it,” he said.

According to the police department, the total number of crashes in the township have decreased over the previous five years, but the severity of the crashes has increased.

In 2021, there were a total of seven people killed in fatal crashes around South Brunswick. Already in 2022, the township has had six fatalities in the township from vehicular crashes.

Data for motor vehicle crashes through a five-year period from 2018-22 released by the police department shows that in 2018 there were 1,783 vehicle crashes, which declined to 1,703 in 2019 from January to September.

After 2019, the vehicle crashes significantly declined to 1,116 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the state and country. That number has been increasing since 2020 with 1,245 vehicular crashes in 2021 from January to September and 1,336 crashes as of Sept. 21, according to the police department.

By utilizing crash data, citizen complaints, and violation data, the police department has been establishing zero tolerance zones with marked and unmarked police vehicles. These zones are targeted to address causes of crashes that include aggressive driving, speeding, distracted driving and impaired driving, according to the police department.

Through education, school resource officers and traffic officers are going to continue to instruct youth in the township on safe driving during driver education classes. They have opened up this training to any other organizations in the community that work or serve the youth in South Brunswick, according to the police department.

Community engagement on the issue has already started through communications from the department’s Nixle alert system, which has already issued safe driving tips and traffic enforcement details each week since the police chief’s announcement.

The department’s Community Policing Bureau will also present driver safety practices to community groups.

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