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Join us as we celebrate 30 years of excellence and service in northern New Jersey.


 

TransOptions Remembers Arthur Ondish

It is with tremendous sadness that we mourn the loss of Mount Arlington Mayor and TransOptions Board Member Arthur Ondish, who passed away on March 8 after battling cancer for more than 21 years.

Art was an avid supporter of and volunteer at our Junior Solar Sprints program since its inception and a long-time friend of our organization.

We share our deepest condolences with his family and friends as we remember a great man with a big heart.

This April, safety will be the word on the streets of Morristown. TransOptions launched the month-long pedestrian safety campaign,"Street Smart", today in Morristown Town Hall, officially making it the first town in Morris County to promote Street Smart. 

At the press conference, Timothy Dougherty, the Mayor of the Town of Morristown, together with the Morristown Police Department, TransOptions, county and state representatives and other important advocates promoted the campaign, which is an effort that combines grassroots public awareness, educational outreach and high-visibility law enforcement to change behaviors as they relate to pedestrian safety.
 
“Education is one of the most important things that we can do for our community and those that come to enjoy our downtown,” Dougherty said. “It adds another level of greatness to our community in a sense that we look at every aspect, not just a development or a new restaurant or a new boutique, but how we make our quality of life the best it can be for the ones who live here and for the many thousands that come to visit.”

In Morristown, from 2013 to 2015, there have been 51 pedestrian-related crashes including one fatal crash. Of those crashes, 21% were a result of pedestrians jaywalking and 46% were a result of pedestrians being struck while crossing within a marked crosswalk. 

Street Smart’s “check your vital signs” slogan emphasizes safe travel roles and responsibilities to both pedestrians and motorists alike. The vital signs are to be displayed on tip cards, posters, banners and street signs throughout the community and in local businesses as a visual reminder for drivers and pedestrians.
 
Following these traffic laws “will go a long way towards achieving a goal of zero pedestrian deaths on our roadways,” said Trauma Program Coordinator Renay Durling-Grover, explaining that Morristown Medical Center saw an increase of 37 percent in pedestrian injuries in 2015.
 
When citing these statistics, Durling-Grover emphasized that “zero is the only acceptable number".
 
TransOptions is leading the Street Smart effort in Morristown, after successfully completing similar campaigns in Newton and Washington (Warren County) in the fall of 2015. The North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) launched five pilot campaigns in various New Jersey towns over the last two years and kicked off a new round of campaigns in March of this year. NJTPA and the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety are funding the efforts in Morristown. TransOptions is partnering with the Town of Morristown, the Morristown Police Department, the school district, as well as numerous local businesses and organizations.
 
“Morris County and the NJTPA have a long-standing commitment to make safety our number one transportation priority,” said Morris County Freeholder Director Kathy DeFillippo.
 
New Jersey Assemblyman Anthony Bucco expanded on the need for raised awareness around pedestrian safety. “Anything that we can do to educate people to make them understand that they’ve got to pay attention right up until the time they turn the ignition off on their cars, whatever we can do to make pedestrians realize that they not only have to look out for themselves, but for others, that’s a good thing and that’s exactly what this program will deliver to Morristown,” Bucco said.
 
“With the recent success of Street Smart in Newton and Washington, we’re looking forward to bringing this important campaign to Morristown,” said TransOptions President John F. Ciaffone.
 
“In a booming town like Morristown, it’s even more essential that drivers obey speed limits and stop for crossing pedestrians, and that pedestrians wait for the walk signal at intersections with traffic lights and refrain from jaywalking by using crosswalks. TransOptions will emphasize these ‘vital signs’ of the Street Smart campaign through education and outreach, while our partners, the Morristown Police Department, will be strictly enforcing these laws.”
 
Executive Director of the NJTPA, Mary K. Murphy, in highlighting the Street Smart efforts statewide, explained that the Federal Highway Administration has “designated New Jersey as a pedestrian focus state due to our very high rate of pedestrian-vehicle crashes.” From 2009‐2013, 697 pedestrians were killed and more than 22,000 were injured statewide.
 
This April, remember to be street smart; check your vital signs. Stop signs, speed limit signs and cross walk signs ensure you have a safe trip. When you heed these signs you're choosing the best path for your family, friends and community who share the road with you. Your choices affect the lives of those around you so always obey the law, drive and walk with care, and protect your loved ones. Be a leader and others will follow. 
To learn more about the campaign, visit http://www.TransOptions.org/street-smart or http://www.BeStreetSmartNJ.org.
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is relocating their Pittsburgh, PA and two Parsippany, NJ offices (Littleton Rd and Kimball Dr) to Warren, NJ, and TransOptions stepped in to assist employees with their new commutes. As part of a comprehensive relocation strategy, TransOptions worked quickly with GSK to implement a new shuttle service. The route will run during the a.m. and p.m. rush hours, connecting the new Warren campus to the Summit Train Station, which will allow employees to travel both westbound and eastbound along the Morris and Essex NJ Transit train line, and then take a quick connector shuttle to work. The shuttle will also provide lunch time service to employees, providing a quick trip to local dining establishments, such as Urban Table, Chipotle, Origin, the Somerset Hills Hotel Tap Room, and others.

TransOptions also presented GSK employees at the Parsippany locations with two in-depth sessions on transportation options available to them, including carpool, vanpool and bicycle, as well as the ability to register for TransOptions’ Emergency Ride Home program.

TransOptions and GSK will continue to build their partnership to provide employees with a variety of options. This effort will include promotion of the shuttle service and vanpool providers, as well as hosting a “zip code party” that will group together employees that would be able to benefit from a carpool or vanpool, in an effort to “break the ice” and find opportunities to share a ride.

 
During the month of April, registration will open for bicyclists of all riding levels to register for our premier bike commute competition: The Bike to Work Challenge. You can get started by creating an online profile and then tracking your bike commute trips and miles from May 1 to May 31 here. Everyone has a chance to win prizes in multiple categories as part of this friendly competition.  
 
No trip is too far or too difficult for you to participate in the Bike to Work Challenge. Drive to a Park & Ride and bike the rest of the way to work, bike to a train station, or take your bike on the bus.
 
As long as the commute incorporates a bike ride, it counts. You don't have to commute by bike every day, but with every ride, you'll have a greater chance of winning bigger prizes.
 
Consider creating a team. Invite friends or coworkers to join you as a way to add to the excitement and ramp up the motivation. You'll get a chance at winning additional prizes, by teaming up with up to four other bike buddies at any time during the Bike to Work Challenge.

 
Each month, we will be highlighting a member of our Board of Directors and we’re starting at the top with our Chairman Robert “Bob” Altieri.

Bob Altieri is a Realtor for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, has over 30 years of information technology leadership experience with Tiffany & Co., and is a devoted family man with two children celebrating college graduations this May.

Upon hearing about the passing of fellow board member, peer and friend, Arthur “Art” Ondish, Bob had nothing but kind words to share.

Most people don’t know what an incredible man he was. Art was an amazing person, a role model and a volunteer for the people. He was the kind of person who would give the shirt off his back for others. He was always giving of his time even though he was both a mayor and a business man. We knew he was sick, but he would always be his same old self: smiling and very strong.

How did you first become involved with TransOptions?

I was an IT director for a company that was experiencing growth and hiring people. I sought to implement a teleworking program but had no idea how to get that started. We wanted to teach people how to telecommute and teach supervisors how to manage that. Back then, telecommuting/teleworking wasn’t common practice. It was very much out of sight, out of mind with managers. 

I came across TransOptions back when it was known as McRides. I had onsite training at Tiffany & Co. with new workers and new managers and we had 200 people in the program. At the time, McRides was very involved in telecommuting and education.

Our relationship grew and I stayed in touch with people at TransOptions. I was a champion for teleworking at a time when telecommuting wasn't popular; it was not a common thing to do back then.

What has been your favorite volunteer experience with this organization?

JSS (Junior Solar Sprints) is my favorite volunteer experience because it is such a coordinated, planned, physical event that everyone helps with at TransOptions. I watch the students, the teachers and everyone at TransOptions including employees and volunteers from various companies come together to create a memorable experience. In a day and age of constant negative publicity, JSS is a great story and makes you feel good.

I enjoy the education part specifically as it related to the children of the middle schools and high schools. It’s incredible to see what happens at JSS and H2 because you get to see how passionate these kids and their teachers are as they gain exposure to STEM programs.  

I truly believe the teachers appreciate the program for what it is; it’s a great addendum to the curriculum. My biggest concern, and I used to tell John this all the time, is that it would become so popular, so big that TransOptions wouldn’t be able to handle it. From the start, I saw the potential because I couldn’t understand why every school in our area wouldn’t participate.


What would you say to someone who is thinking about volunteering with TransOptions?

I would say it would be one of the best investments you would ever make. You’re doing something beneficial for the community and the environment. You would look back on this investment and realize it was the best decision you ever made because it has such a lasting and powerful impact.

What do you wish other people knew about TransOptions?

When people first hear about TransOptions, they may associate it more with getting to and from a place such as from the train station to a work environment or getting to work via vanpool or carpool. And it’s understandable due to the name.

I wish people knew more about the environmental education that TransOptions offers. TransOptions is laying a foundation for all these children to become better human beings and increase awareness of alternative energy and the importance of caring for our planet.
 
 
The new report, funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, highlights ways businesses can help save lives and money through roadway safety education in the workplace.

Protecting employees from motor vehicles crashes could be a profitable investment for U.S. businesses, according to a new report released by the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS). In 2013, U.S. traffic crashes cost employers $47.4 billion in direct crash-related expenses, which includes medical care, liability, lost productivity and property damage. The study showed that employers could control costs by promoting safe driving habits, including seat belt usage and the elimination of speeding, drunk driving and distracted driving, whether or not employees are on the clock.

The study was funded by the U.S. DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and updates a 2002 study, titled the Economic Burden of Traffic Crashes on Employers.

“The consequences of traffic crashes are far reaching. It’s a domino effect that negatively impacts individuals, families, communities and businesses,” said Dr. Mark Rosekind, NHTSA Administrator. “It is critical that individuals make safe choices. Driving behavior change in traffic safety is something NHTSA is exploring through a series of regional summits. We hope employers will join us and look at this report as a motivator to help save lives and prevent injuries on our roads.”

The report shows that more than 1.6 million work days were lost due to traffic crashes, with nearly 90 percent of those days attributed to crashes that occurred off the job, involving employees and/or their dependents. The report details the costs to employers of traffic crashes occurring on and off the job associated with driver behavior.

Speeding resulted in $8.4 billion in crash-related expenses, with distracted driving close behind, at $8.2 billion. Driving under the influence of alcohol resulted in $6.0 billion in losses and not wearing a seat belt added $4.9 billion to the total. In addition, the report finds that medical costs paid by employers per employee injured in a crash were nearly double in on-the-job crashes where the employee was not wearing a seat belt and increased by a third for off-the-job crashes. Click here for an Infographic of the findings.

“When people think of the human and financial impact of traffic crashes on the workplace, they think about company car drivers,” said Jack Hanley, Executive Director of NETS. “This new report is an eye-opener. It shows that employers bear the crash costs of all their employees, not just their company drivers. Investing in road safety is good business and today’s report provides employers with a blueprint for developing business cases in support of employee road safety.”

In tandem with the new report, NETS is introducing a free toolkit to help employers encourage employees to wear a seat belt. The toolkit was piloted by Coca-Cola Refreshments at its Bismarck ND site, where observed seat belt usage increased from a baseline 54 percent to 84 percent over a 6-week period. Coca-Cola Refreshments is a unit of The Coca-Cola Company, a NETS board member. All the materials used are available in the toolkit and require minimal time and cost to conduct an all-employee site-wide seat belt usage improvement campaign. The free toolkit is available at 2seconds2click.org. NETS also offers at no charge The Comprehensive Guide to Road Safety™ for employers with occupational drivers—available via its website at trafficsafety.org.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month
 

In 2014, an estimated 3,179 people were killed and an additional 431,000 were injured in crashes involving distracted driving.

The demographic most at risk includes young and inexperienced drivers with 25% of all distracted driving crashes involving drivers under the age of 24.  On average, 660,000 drivers are using hand-held cell phones while driving during daylight hours.

Although cell phone usage is the most notorious form of distracted driving, distractions behind the wheel can vary from technology to makeup application and food consumption. The following are ten tips from AAA, to keep distractions at bay and keep you safe on the road. 

  • If you can't devote your full attention to driving because of another activity, it's a distraction. Be sure to take care of it before or after your trip, not while you're behind the wheel.
  • If another activity demands your immediate attention, pull off the road and stop your vehicle in a safe place. Drivers should use caution while using voice-activated systems, even at seemingly safe moments when there is a lull in traffic or the car is stopped at an intersection, because potentially dangerous distractions can last longer than most drivers expect. 
  • If you have passengers, enlist their help so you can focus safely on driving.
  • Put aside your electronic distractions. Don't use cell phones while driving whether handheld or hands-free. Even hands-free devices can be cognitively distracting. 
  • Secure children and pets before heading out. If they need your attention, pull off the road safely to care for them. Reaching into the backseat can cause you to lose control of the vehicle. 
  • Snack smart. If possible, eat meals or snacks before or after your trip, not while driving. 
  • Finish dressing and personal grooming at home before you hit the road.
  • Make all climate, radio, seats, mirrors, navigational adjustments before you begin your trip. Decide on your route and check traffic conditions ahead of time.
  • Store loose gear, possessions and other distractions that could roll around in the car.
  • Fully focus on driving. Do not let anything divert your attention, actively scan the road, use your mirrors and watch out for pedestrians and cyclists.
It may have (slightly) snowed on the first day of Spring but it seems like winter is finally in the rear view mirror. Stay safe and be "road-ready" with these spring driving tips.
  • Slow down. Melting snow and rain showers create tricky, slick conditions on the roads. It takes four times longer to stop on wet roads.
  • Avoid skids, especially on wet roads. Keep tires properly inflated and check treads to ensure greater traction.
  • Keep windshield wiper blades in good condition. Cold temperatures and road salt may have taken a toll on them. Maintain windshield washer fluid levels.
  • Watch for potholes. Stay alert should you need to slow down or change lanes to avoid misalignment or tire damage.
  • Stay alert for pothole repairs. Unexpected traffic and road closures are roving during the spring season.
Enjoy spring driving. Be prepared, stay alert and drive safely!

We could still use more volunteers for our popular Junior Solar Sprints (JSS) competition in May. Anyone interested in environmental studies and education, is encouraged to consider lending a hand in this highly anticipated competition which will include nearly 5,000 students from over 70 NJ schools.

To learn more about this distinguished STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) competition, please click here. Anyone interested in volunteering
 for JSS, is asked to contact Kristen at 973.267.7600 or ktomasicchio@transoptions.org.
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