Last spring, toward the end of the 2012-2013 legislative session, several New Jersey legislators (both Democrat and Republican) introduced an arsenal of bills focused on improving safety for pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable users of New Jersey’s roads.
Unfortunately, the bills saw little to no movement during that session, but the good news is that the bills have been reintroduced for the 2014-2015 legislative session, which began on January 14 (2012-2013 reference numbers are bracketed).
- S231/A958 [S2774/A4063](Allen/Singleton, Conaway, Spencer) a vulnerable user bill which increases penalties for motor vehicle violations resulting in serious bodily injury or death to pedestrians, cyclists, or highway repair crew members
- A1591 [A3762] (Spencer, Wagner, Eustace) which would increase penalties for careless driving when a violation results in injury or death to a pedestrian
- S230/A959 [S2773 /A4064] (Allen/Singleton, Conaway) which requires a percentage of motor vehicle fines be used to support Safe Routes to School initiatives
- S229/A960 [S2772/A4065] (Allen/Singleton, Conaway) which increases fines for the violation of certain laws concerning pedestrian safety and traffic control and dedicates funds to certain roadways
- A1600 [A4059] (Spencer) which requires drivers to move over or slow down when approaching a bicyclist or pedestrian
A portion of the fines collected in S230/A959 and S229/A960 would be dedicated to enforcement and education initiatives on “high priority roadways” where more than four pedestrian fatalities have occurred in the previous calendar year, or more than eight pedestrian fatalities in the prior three calendar years. According to Tri-State’s most recent Most Dangerous Roads report, those roads could include Route 1, Route 9, Route 30 (White Horse Pike), Route 35, Route 130 and Route 322/40 (Black Horse Pike).
Part of the reason these bills failed to pass during the 2012-2013 session is because time was limited. Now, even though lawmakers have the benefit of nearly a full legislative session to push these bills forward, no time should be wasted. Fewer than 7 percent of bills made it to the Governor’s desk last session, and even fewer were actually signed.
The bills are currently being considered in the Assembly’s Law and Public Safety (A1591, A960), Education (A959) and Transportation and Public Works (A958, A1600) committees. The Senate Transportation Committee will consider S231, S230 and S229.