Safety belts no longer apply to just passengers and drivers. Teaneck Councilor Elie Katz and resident Harold Gellis have paved the way for pedestrians to don reflective belts while they stroll the town when it is dark.
These two guys, through their “Stay Safe Teaneck Pedestrian” campaign, have been handing out reflective belts for bikers and walkers to increase their visibility during the wee hours of the morning and at night. How did they come up with the campaign? Well, a pedestrian in Englewood was hit by an automobile on Christmas eve and died. The campaign is their response to the tragedy.
Keeping Pedestrians Safe With Safety Belts
Gellis said that the Englewood resident’s death was a wakeup call for people. He met with a councilman one morning and they agreed it would be smart to promote the wearing of reflective belts all over the city. Gellis added that just because people see a car doesn’t mean it can also see them.
February 20 (Sunday), the two men gave out over 75 belts at the Congregation Beth Aaron. Some $150 worth of donations was also collected from residents eager to see the continuation and expansion of the program.
More belts were handed out at the Congregation Bnai Yeshurun on February 27. While the initial giveaways targeted people walking home from synagogue on Friday and Saturday evenings, Katz and Gellis mean for the campaign to help safeguard all Teaneck residents.
Gellis wants to sustain the program long enough to provide everybody living in Teaneck with belts. He said that people need to understand the danger involved in walking or riding bikes in darkness. Having something reflective on can be a lifesaver.
Katz said that he is doing this for all residents of Teaneck while supplies last. He added that he’d be happy to distribute more at public places so more people become aware of the campaign. People can wear the belts like a sash or simply wrapped around the waist although local police encourage wearing them across the waist so car lights directly hit the reflectors. This way, drivers can see walkers without difficulty.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration lists the 2010 pedestrian fatalities at 4,092 and the pedestrian injuries at 59,000. Gellis and Kats intend to do what they can to drive down these numbers.