Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Safe Passing Law Turned 1 This Month

New Jersey's safe passing law requiring drivers to provide at least 4 feet when passing vulnerable road users marked its first anniversary this month.

The state law went into effect on March 1, 2022.

Vulnerable users include people walking, running, biking, riding a scooter, or in a wheelchair - essentially those sharing the road but not protected inside vehicles. Drivers are required to use "due caution" when they see vulnerbale people on the road, such as:

  • Drivers must follow all current no-passing, no speeding laws and move over a lane if there's one to move into.
  • On a single-lane road, drivers must allow at least a 4-foot safety zone when they pass.
  • If 4 feet is not possible on a section of road, drivers must slow to 25 mph and be prepared to stop until they can pass safetly without endangering those sharing the road.

Drivers who violate the law and cause bodily injury, face a $500 fine and two motor vehicle penalty points. If there is no bodily injury, the fine is $100.

The law went into effect after one of the deadliest years on New Jersey's roads in recent memory, according to the State Police. In 2021, there were 667 fatal crashes in the Garden State, up from 550 in 2020 -- an increase of 21 percent -- the deadlist year on New Jersey's roads in 14 years for drivers, and the deadliest in 30 years for people walking, cycling, or rolling. Last year, there were 653 fatal crashes -- a decline of just 0.2 percent from 2020 but still almost 25 percent more than the 524 reported in 2019, prior to the pandemic.

Pedestrian fatalities declined 11 percent in 2022, from 217 to 193, but continue to account for nearly 30 percent of the fatalities reported statewide. A majority of those pedestrian fatalities in 2022 were over the age of 50.

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