February 6, 2013
In 2009 the number of pedestrians killed by cars in New Jersey rose by nearly 34 percent to its highest level in almost a decade. This was matched by a fall in total traffic accidents to the point where over a quarter of all traffic deaths were ordinary citizens crossing the street. Fortunately, the number of deaths from these accidents fell in 2010, likely due to pedestrian safety programs instituted by numerous state and city officials.
One of these programs took place in Little Falls, thanks to a donor advised fund at the Community Foundation of New Jersey (CFNJ). The fundholder, who was motivated by several studies showing that pedestrian decoy programs can successfully decrease the number of violations and injuries for nearly a year after strict enforcement, worked with CFNJ to design a program carried out by the Little Falls Police Department.
And so was hatched “The Little Falls Pedestrian Decoy Operation” — a program in which a plainclothes officer, Sergeant James Briggs, attempted to cross the street at a crosswalk and monitored drivers’ responses. If a driver failed to yield, Sergeant Briggs radioed police cars further down the road to pull over the perpetrator.
Over the course of six days between July and November 2010, 221 drivers were caught breaking the crosswalk law; 129 were issued summonses; and 64 were given written warnings. On the last day of the operation in November, Sergeant Briggs himself noticed the change the program had brought in driver behavior as many more cars yielded than on the first day.
“This donation has made a tremendous difference,” said Sergeant Briggs. “Without it, we could not have put together this program and seen the positive results for the community that we did.”
The donor advised fund also made it possible for a pedestrian sign to be installed on the Main Street crosswalk where the operation took place — an improvement that continues to yield positive benefits today.
These gifts highlight the variety of ways a donor advised fund can impact their communities and causes. Please call us at 973-267-5533 if you want to explore ideas for your own fund.