TRENTON – The Senate approved legislation today sponsored by Senator John Girgenti that would require drivers to move into another lane or slow down when passing emergency and maintenance vehicles on the road.
“Common courtesy and common sense should lead drivers to move into another lane or slow down whenever passing emergency or maintenance personnel working on the side of the road,” said Senator Girgenti, D-Passaic and Bergen and Chair of the Committee. “Unfortunately, not everyone is that courteous or sensible while driving and its clear that the State needs to go further in protecting those people who work on and around our roads.”
Senator Girgenti’s bill, S-180, would create a new traffic offense for improperly passing an emergency vehicle, tow truck, or highway maintenance vehicle that is stationary and displaying its flashing lights. Absent direction by a law enforcement officer at the scene, a motorist approaching a stationary vehicle that is displaying flashing lights would be required to change lanes to a lane that is not adjacent to the emergency vehicle or reduce speed to a rate lower than the posted speed limit and be prepared to stop.
“We had 18 fatalities in New Jersey roadway work zones in 2006, which by any count is 18 people too many,” added Senator Girgenti. “Safety needs to be a top priority for New Jersey drivers, especially when they see flashing lights on the side of the road. Slowing down for just a few seconds really could save someone’s life.”
Senator Girgenti noted that any person found guilty of violating this requirement would be punished by a fine of not less than $100 and not more than $500.
The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 38-0 and now goes to the Assembly for consideration.