TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Nicholas Sacco and Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez to improve public awareness of the state’s ‘move over’ law has been sent to the governor’s desk.
“The ‘move over’ law was enacted in 2009 in order to protect personnel on the state’s roads and highways and require that drivers approaching emergency and other vehicles move over when possible,” said Senator Sacco (D-Hudson). “Nearly a decade later, we continue to have motorists that fail to obey the law and tragedies occurring on our roadways. Raising awareness of the law is critical to improving compliance and to saving lives.”
“The law requires motorists to provide a safe buffer for police and other vehicles that are stopped on our roadways. Yet, drivers continue to put emergency responders and others in grave danger by violating the law,” said Senator Cruz-Perez (D-Camden/Gloucester). “It is clear that we must do more to promote awareness of the requirement and the dire consequences that can result when the law is not followed. This is about improving safety and protecting the men and women who work on our roadways every day.”
In March of 2016, State Trooper Sean Cullen was killed after being struck by a vehicle while responding to a car fire on Interstate 295 in Gloucester County. A Voorhees police officer was approaching a vehicle during a traffic stop last year when his patrol car was sideswiped. He was not injured, but the department used the incident to promote the ‘move over’ law, according to published reports. There have also been tragedies involving tow truck and sanitization vehicle operators who were struck and killed on the state’s roadways.
The bill (S3360) would require the Commissioner of Transportation, in consultation with the Director of the Division of Highway Traffic Safety in the Department of Law and Public Safety, to develop public awareness programs and to use variable message signs to inform motorists of their duty to change lanes when approaching a stationary authorized emergency vehicle, tow truck, highway maintenance or emergency service vehicle, or sanitation vehicle that is displaying flashing, blinking, or alternating lights or, in the alternative, to reduce the speed of their vehicles if it is impossible, prohibited by law, or unsafe to move over one lane, as is required under the State’s “move over” law. A violation of the law can result in fines of up to $500.
The Assembly approved the bill by a vote of 77-1 in June. The Senate approved the bill Friday by a vote of 32-0, sending it to the governor’s desk.