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Bipartisan Motor Vehicle Safety Bill Advances

Trenton – In an effort to maintain safe New Jersey roadways, the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee today advanced legislation sponsored by Senators Patrick Diegnan, Anthony Bucco, Steven Oroho and Nilsa Cruz-Perez that would impose certain safety requirements on motorists when overtaking pedestrians and bicyclists.

“Cyclists share the same right to the road as other vehicles. Bicycling has become an increasingly popular form of exercise as the weather begins to warm up,” said Senator Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “New Jerseyans’ safety is a top priority and the goal of this legislation is to protect citizens on the road and ensure they are protected.”

The combined bill, S-2208/1460/1463, would require motorists to take certain safety precautions when they are overtaking pedestrians, bicyclists, or scooter riders on New Jersey roadways. Individuals behind the wheel would be required to approach any pedestrian, bicyclist, or electric scooter and bicycle operator with due caution and allow at least four feet of clearance, if a lane change is not possible.

“New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the nation, and as a result, pedestrians face a greater risk of injury or death on our roads,” said Senator Bucco (R-Morris/Somerset). “We all know that pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists need to exercise caution when sharing our roadways, but more needs to be done to prevent fatalities. This legislation will provide additional protections for all New Jerseyans by requiring drivers to be more aware of their surroundings and to be more mindful of the responsibility they have behind the wheel.”

“Each year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) issues a report on motor vehicle crashes, and each year it highlights thousands of pedestrian fatalities—most of which are preventable,” said Senator Oroho (R-Morris/Sussex/Warren). “This bipartisan legislation introduces several new requirements for drivers, such as increasing the distance between a vehicle and a pedestrian during an overtake, that are critical to preventing pedestrian injuries and deaths. Together, we can make our roads safer for all New Jerseyans so that people can go walking, running, and cycling without being worried about becoming another statistic.”

Any individual who commits a violation of the provisions which results in bodily injury or harm will be fined $500. Otherwise, the violator will be fine $100.

“The number of Americans who commute to work via bicycle has grown by 20 percent since 2010. The pandemic has also encouraged new outdoor hobbies such as bicycling, scootering, jogging and other forms of exercise that may require the use of New Jersey roadways,” said Senator Cruz-Perez (D- Camden/Gloucester). “Motorists will have to respect the shared use of the roadways. Exercise and physical activity cannot come at a fatal cost.”

The bill was released from committee by a vote of 6-0.