Motorists and pedestrians are in for a culture change, based on a law that became effective April 1. “No longer will crossing the street be a game of chicken”, said Pam Fisher, Director of the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety, at a news conference held last Wednesday to publicize the new law. Under legislation adopted by the state legislature in January, drivers must stop for pedestrians within crosswalks or face increased penalties. Failure to observe the law may subject drivers to any of the following: a $200 fine (previously $100), 2 points, and up to 15 days of community service.
According to state and federal traffic statistics, about 25% of New Jersey auto related fatalities involve pedestrians which is nearly double the national average. Press articles issued in conjunction with the new law also indicate that pedestrians will also be held to stricter standards for improper behavior – jaywalking, crossing on the red, etc. It is expected that education and enforcement initiatives will become more aggressive in the weeks and months ahead.
Another new law that hasn’t received too much publicity is the “Move Over Law” which took effect January, 2009. The following is taken from the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission website. It reads as follows:
“MOVE OVER FOR STATIONARY EMERGENCY AND OTHER SERVICE VEHICLES
As of January 27, 2009, New Jersey’s “Move Over” law requires that all motorists approaching a stationary, authorized emergency vehicle, tow truck, highway maintenance or other emergency service vehicle that is displaying a flashing, blinking or alternating red, blue, amber or yellow light or, any configuration of lights containing one of these colors, must change lanes, safety and traffic conditions permitting, into a lane not adjacent to the authorized vehicle. If a lane change is impossible, prohibited by law or unsafe, the motorist must reduce the speed of his/her vehicle to a reasonable and proper speed that is lower than the posted speed limit and be prepared to stop, if necessary. Motorists who violate this law face a fine of not less than $100 and not more than $500. (C.39:4-92.2 and 39:3-84.6)”
It’s time we slow down, follow sensible driving and pedestrian rules, and stop from killing each other on the road.