TRENTON – The Senate Law & Public Safety and Veterans’ Affairs Committee 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 sense would dictate that drivers should move into another lane or slow down whenever passing an emergency vehicle or maintenance truck that is stopped on the side of the road,” said Senator Girgenti, D-Passaic and Bergen and Chair of the Committee. “Unfortunately, not everyone uses common sense on the road, and we need to step in to do a better job at 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.
“Eighteen people died in New Jersey roadway work zones in 2006, which is 18 people too many in my mind,” added Senator Girgenti. “Drivers need to always put safety first when on the road, but also think to be extra careful when they see flashing lights on the side of the road. Slowing down and adding a few more seconds on your trip 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 Committee by a vote of 5-0 and now goes to the full Senate for consideration.