New Jersey has a "move-over" law on the books that requires drivers to slow down and change lanes when they see the lights of police cars and other emergency vehicles on the shoulder of the road.

The only problem is many drivers ignore the law, so a plan is moving forward to toughen the penalty for violating it.

Right now, violators are subject to fines of between $100 and $500, but legislation that’s been unanimously approved by the Assembly law and public safety committee would toughen the penalty by also assessing 2 motor vehicle points.

Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling (D-Monmouth), the prime sponsor of the bill, said imposing points will hopefully encourage drivers to pay attention, slow down and move over when they see police, maintenance, tow truck and other emergency vehicles and personnel on the shoulder.

“It’s not the points as much as the fact that we want more people to know and be aware of what this law is all about, and the danger of really not moving over because there are people that have to work on the side of the road," he said.

He said this includes “not only our state troopers but really anybody who goes to work every day -- and there’s a lot of them that have to work on the side of the road, and they have a reasonable expectation to be able to come home safely every day, and that’s what we want to provide.”

He said the focus of this legislation is to help promote safety on our highways and byways.

“Actually, part of this legislation is to reach out to Motor Vehicles, for them to come up with a game plan to promote this legislation and to make sure that people will move over or slow down,” he said.

Houghtaling said, unfortunately, these days “when people are driving they may be distracted, they’re thinking about something, and they’re really just not paying attention to the things that they need to pay attention to.”

The move-over was established nine years ago after State Police Trooper Marc Castellano was struck and killed in the line of duty ,on the side of the road, by a driver who did not move over.

The legislation could be approved by the full Assembly when it comes up for a vote on December 17th.

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