A bill sponsored by Senator Nicholas J. Sacco that would promote safe driving to ensure the safety of emergency and maintenance personnel was approved today by the Senate Transportation Committee.
The bill, S-402, will require the Commissioner of Transportation to develop public awareness programs and use electronic message signs to inform motorists about the State’s “move over” law. The programs and signs will remind drivers of their duty to change lanes when approaching a stationary authorized emergency vehicle, tow truck, or highway maintenance or emergency service vehicle that is displaying flashing, blinking, or alternating emergency lights. Alternatively, drivers must reduce the speed of their vehicles if it is unsafe to move over one lane. The current law also requires that violators pay a fine of a minimum of $100 to a maximum of $500.
“Safety comes first when it comes to the men and women who protect us,” said Senator Sacco, D- Bergen, Hudson. “By reminding drivers to move over when approaching emergency and maintenance vehicles, we can encourage them to drive safely, effectively reducing the number of roadside accidents.”
New Jersey enacted its “move over” law in 2009. To date, all 50 states have approved similar laws, created as a national initiative to decrease the risk of emergency personnel being injured or killed due to “struck-by” accidents, according to the American Safety Committee. Over 130 vehicle-related deaths among officers have been reported by the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund since 2004. The U.S. Department of Labor notes that “one-in-four struck-by fatalities involve construction workers.”
The bill cleared the Senate Transportation Committee by a 5 to 0 vote.