NJ drivers must share the road under the new law. What there is to know

If you see a pedestrian, cyclist or scooter, be sure to give them space on the road – that’s the message lawmakers want to send with a new law in New Jersey.

Governor Phil Murphy signed the law, known as the “Safe Passage Act”, in August and it came into force on Tuesday. It was inspired by the death of a resident of Metuchen Oscar Zanoni, fatally struck in 2020 by a tractor-trailer while riding his e-bike on Route 27 in Edison near Vineyard Road.

Here’s what the law orders drivers to do when they see a cyclist or pedestrian on the road:

  • Whenever possible, motorists should change non-adjacent lanes.
  • If a lane change is not possible, drivers should leave at least four feet of distance when approaching and maintain that distance until the motor vehicle has passed safely.
  • When unable to change non-adjacent lanes or maintain a distance of at least four feet, the driver should reduce the speed of the motor vehicle to 25 miles per hour or a lower posted speed and be prepared to stop.

Violators will be fined $100. A driver who commits an offense resulting in bodily injury or bodily harm will be assessed a fine of $500 and two motor vehicle points.

The bipartisan bill, which Senator Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. sponsored in the Senate and Assemblymen Robert Karabinchak and Sterley Stanley in the Assembly, makes New Jersey the 42nd state to enact a form of safe adoption.

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Between 2010 and 2019, the number of pedestrians killed across the country increased by 46%, from 4,302 in 2010 to about 6,301 in 2019, according to data from the Governors Highway Safety Association.

In 2010, New Jersey state law changed to require drivers to stop for pedestrians at crosswalks, instead of yielding, as they were previously required to do.

A recent Survey of NorthJersey.com analyzed hundreds of public records related to pedestrian fatalities. Public Records Requests to the 171 North Jersey Police Departments, as part of the investigation found that 296 people died on highways and streets in Bergen, Passaic, Essex, Morris and Sussex counties between 2010 and 2020.

An SUV passes a speed limit sign at Valley Road North and Birchwood Terrace in Wayne, where an accident occurred February 27, 2018. Photographed 07/05/21.

According to the report, a combination of high speeds, lack of pedestrian infrastructure and arterial roads explain the increase in deaths across the country and the upward trends in New Jersey.

“NJ’s Safe Passage Act is the toughest safe passage law in the country, and with the number of road deaths and serious injuries on the rise across the state, it’s coming. at a critical time,” said Debra Kagan, executive director of the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition, “This law gives us the opportunity to raise awareness and put safety first, making our roads safer for everyone, by especially vulnerable road users.”

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Diegnan, who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee, said in a unrelated interview with The Record last month Pedestrian safety remains a priority for him.

“You’ve seen young people, really of all ages, cycling on the roads and people speeding past them at 40 miles per hour. Some of our core cities have put up barriers and so on, but that’s something something that we really need to master on,” he said.

Colleen Wilson covers the Port Authority and NJ Transit for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to his work covering the region’s transport systems and how they affect your travels, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

E-mail: [email protected]

Twitter: @colleenallreds

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