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OFFICIAL NEWS RELEASE

 
 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
SFC Kevin Rehmann (609)882-2000  X6515
Sgt. Gerald Lewis X6516
Tpr. Stephen Jones X6513

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
December 23, 2003


 
 
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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