NJ Law: Switch Lanes or Slow Down for Pedestrians — or Get Fined
Still reeling from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, you may have completely missed the launch of a new state law that transforms the way you must drive when approaching pedestrians and bikers on the side of the road.
So, now that it's summertime, here's a refresher on New Jersey's latest "move over" law that took effect in March.
What does the law say?
The law, signed by Gov. Phil Murphy in August 2021, sets ground rules for drivers who are approaching road users who aren't in motor vehicles — walkers, runners, cyclists, and people on scooters and wheelchairs, for example.
- Switch lanes on a multi-lane road or pass at least 4 feet away from the individual
- If neither a safe distance or lane switch are possible, reduce speed to 25 mph and be prepared to stop when passing
What if I don't?
Violators can be fined $100, as long as their actions don't get anyone hurt. Passing incidents that result in bodily harm can come with a $500 fine and two motor vehicle points.
"This law is one of the strongest in the country," said Debra Kagan, executive director of the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition.
Kagan said New Jersey and the nation are facing a "real crisis of traffic violence." Deaths are on the rise for both bicyclists and pedestrians; this law aims to prevent deaths, injuries and near misses.
"This law is an opportunity to build awareness among drivers, that road users who are not in cars are also friends, they're family, they're colleagues from work or your neighbors," Kagan said.
What else should I know?
It's not just people you are required to move over or slow down for while driving.
For years, New Jersey has had a law on the books that specifically requires drivers to slow down or move over if there is a stationary vehicle on the side of the road with flashing lights — police cars, tow trucks, EMS vehicles, and highway safety vehicles, for example.
New Jersey also has a law that requires motorists to stop when pedestrians are crossing a marked intersection, and yield to pedestrians crossing at unmarked intersections.