Holiday Colors Include Orange for the New Jersey State Police
West Trenton, NJ - Colonel Rick Fuentes, entering his first holiday season as Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, is facing more than just the holiday traffic this year. Since the national and state security levels have been raised to orange, the State Police have deployed troopers to numerous additional posts throughout the state. The Emergency Operations Center, a coordination point for New Jersey's Office of Emergency Management efforts, was opened on Sunday at 6:00 p.m. and remains staffed by representatives from all appropriate agencies and companies that are part of the state's critical infrastructure.
"This orange alert level means that more of our troopers will be on duty during the Christmas and New Years holidays," said Colonel Fuentes. "It's a small sacrifice we are called to make in the protection of our citizens, but it reminds us of the bigger sacrifice being made by all those called to active duty, including some of our own troopers.
Additional troopers are patrolling the PATH trains and major rail stations; Newark Liberty Airport and regional airports; key bridges, tunnels and highways; and important infrastructures including nuclear power plants and communication hubs. State Police Marine Stations have floated extra patrols to guard the water-accessible side of many of these sites.
This extra security activity may cause additional travel delays for motorists and airline users alike. Colonel Fuentes advises travelers to allot extra time to compensate for longer than usual holiday delays and he asks all those taking to the roads to 'drive prepared.'
Drivers should be prepared for:
- Foul weather driving...because the forecast calls
for rain on Christmas Eve. Make sure your windshield wipers,
tires, brakes and lights are all in good condition. Leave
extra room for stopping on wet roads.
- Other drivers...by keeping aware of those around
you. This includes maintaining a safe distance from the
vehicles in front of you and watching for others at all
intersections. It is also critical to wear safety belts
correctly- it could make the difference between a moderate
accident becoming a fatality.
- Driving at their best...by getting enough rest
before long drives. Avoid distractions such as tending to
children in the back seats, using handheld electronic devices
and talking on handheld phones. Careless driving is both
dangerous and illegal. Of course, do not drive after consuming
alcohol. Every drink reduces a driver's ability to quickly
react to road and traffic conditions.
Despite the additional homeland security duties, troopers will be covering the state's highways with additional patrols looking for stranded motorists, aggressive drivers and drinking drivers. Even those members of the State Police who must be on duty will have a better holiday if the public does its share to reduce accidents during this busy holiday season.
Preliminary statewide traffic fatalities for 2003 through December 20th are 677. Although this is a tragic amount of deaths, it stands 12 percent below the 2002 number for the same period, which was 759.
Last year, there were four fatalities during the two-day Christmas holiday. This year's official traffic holiday will begin Wednesday, December 24th at 6:00 p.m. and run through Sunday, December 28th at midnight.
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