The deaths of two teenagers and a 7-year-old girl have prompted one New Jersey county to start a driving initiative aimed at saving lives.
Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez announced the “Slow Down, Save Lives” operation last week. It goes into effect Tuesday.
The aim of the initiative, which includes ticketing and signs showing automatic radar readings, is to get drivers to slow down and yield to pedestrians, and also to prevent pedestrians from jaywalking.
The operation especially focuses on John F. Kennedy Boulevard from Bayonne up to North Bergen, where speeding has long been a problem on the major Hudson County artery, partly because other roads in Hudson are so congested, according to Suarez.
"When you're able to pick up some speed, I think they're doing exactly that, they're sort of making up for lost time but it can't be tolerated and it won't be," she said.
Suarez said that the operation will continue through the summer months.
Its launch comes about a month after a 7-year-old girl and two teens died less than a week apart in separate crashes in Hudson County.
Sheyla Pichardo, 7, died after she was hit by an SUV as she walked to school in West New York on Feb. 29. Her mother was injured in the crash. The two men suspected of hitting her were arrested.
Less than a week later, on March 5, teenagers Bryan Rodriguez and Noel Herrera were killed and a third teen was injured after a speeding car hit them as they walked in North Bergen. The driver of that car was traveling 74 mph when he hit the teens, according to police. He tested positive for PCP.
“Our community has suffered the tragic loss of lives in recent weeks and we must make every effort to ensure pedestrian and motorist safety,” Suarez said. “Excessive speeds and distracted driving will not be tolerated.”
As part of the new initiative, police departments from Bayonne, Jersey City, Union City, West New York and North Bergen will work with the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office and the Hudson County Prosecutor’s office to monitor and enforce laws.
Residents say the initiative is welcome.
"I think people are really tired about it, especially with young kids," said Miguel Sardinas of Jersey City, who knew the two teens killed in the March 5 crash.