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Garneau v. Eggers

Decided: August 14, 1934.

ALBERT GARNEAU, PROSECUTOR,
v.
FRANK H. EGGERS, JUDGE OF THE FIRST CRIMINAL COURT OF THE CITY OF JERSEY CITY, AND THE MAYOR AND ALDERMEN OF JERSEY CITY, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, DEFENDANTS



On certiorari, &c.

For the prosecutor, Riker & Riker (Theodore McC. Marsh, of counsel).

For the defendants, James A. Hamill (Charles Hershenstein, of counsel).

Before Justices Trenchard, Heher and Perskie.

Trenchard

The opinion of the court was delivered by

TRENCHARD, J. The prosecutor, Albert Garneau, was convicted in the First Criminal Court of Jersey City of a violation of section 2 of an ordinance of Jersey City entitled "An ordinance regulating the vehicular traffic upon certain roadways or highways in the city of Jersey City," adopted by the board of commissioners of Jersey City on November 21st, 1933, and approved by the commissioner of motor vehicles, pursuant to the statute, on November 22d, 1933.

Section 2 of the ordinance reads: "It shall be unlawful for the driver of any commercial vehicle, as herein defined, to use, travel upon or traverse the highway known as the 'Pulaski highway' within the corporate limits of the city of Jersey City."

For convenience we shall herein refer to this highway as the "skyway," by which name it is most generally known.

In general the record shows that the skyway was opened to public travel on November 24th, 1932. Immediately thereafter [113 NJL Page 247] accidents became frequent and increased in their severity. All were accompanied by property damage, mostly by serious personal injuries, and five persons were killed between November 24th, 1932, and November 21st, 1933, the date upon which the ordinance was adopted. The police department of Jersey City, through its chief of police and its traffic bureau, made complete surveys of conditions existing upon the skyway with a view of making the same safe for vehicular traffic. Measure after measure was adopted; experienced traffic policemen were assigned to duty; the motorcycle squad augmented, and several intensive drives and many prosecutions against traffic violators were instituted requiring the personal appearance of offenders before the traffic courts. All without avail. The accidents continued and even during the last intensive effort before the ordinance was adopted one traffic officer was killed and two police officers very seriously and permanently injured. The skyway is a connecting link of that portion of route 25 which extends from the opening of the Holland tunnel in Jersey City to the Tonnele Circle, with that portion of route 25 which runs through Newark, Elizabeth and various cities of the state. It created special conditions differing from any other in Jersey City. Prior to the adoption of the ordinance many thousands of commercial vehicles made constant use of the highway. Many trucks traveled slowly on the right-hand side of the skyway, and, where there was a rising grade, at not more than four miles an hour, with the result that fast-moving motor vehicles, particularly fast-moving commercial vehicles, often overtook the slow-moving commercial vehicles. By reason of the width and size of the commercial bodies the overtaking vehicle would pass over or beyond the center line of the highway in the path of oncoming vehicles driven in the opposite direction causing the oncoming vehicles to swerve from their straight line of travel. This created serious danger and numerous serious accidents resulted causing much concern to the mayor and commissioners of Jersey City. Suggestions were solicited; conferences were had with state and county officials. Various plans were examined over

a period of six or seven months. It was ascertained that almost eighty per cent. of the accidents was due to the presence of commercial vehicles upon the skyway; that between eleven per cent. and seventeen per cent. of the entire traffic consisted of commercial vehicles. With these facts before them, the city commissioners found that special circumstances existed along the skyway which needed regulation of a definite nature in order to protect the safety and lives of the community, and they determined that the only feasible plan to minimize and practically eliminate such accidents upon the skyway was by the passage of the ordinance under review, and the soundness of their judgment seems to be demonstrated by the fact that since the enforcement of the ordinance there has occurred only four accidents, all of a minor character.

The prosecutor at the time of his conviction was engaged in interstate commerce. As we shall hereafter point out the effect of the ordinance was ...


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