‘Move Over’ rule advances in New Jersey

| 5/22/2008

A practice followed by professional truck drivers for decades would become law for all drivers in New Jersey if a bill advancing in the state’s Senate becomes law. The legislation is designed to protect emergency personnel during roadside stops and certain other vehicles.

The Senate Law and Public Safety and Veterans’ Affairs Committee approved a bill that would require drivers to maintain a safe distance and reduce speed before passing emergency vehicles, tow trucks or highway maintenance vehicles parked by the road with their lights flashing.

This is the second year in a row that Sen. Anthony Bucco, R-Denville, has offered legislation intended to protect emergency personnel. The 2007 version failed to advance from the Senate before the session ended.

Dubbed the “Move Over Act,” the bill would require drivers to merge into a lane further away from emergency vehicles, tow trucks or highway maintenance vehicles, if practical. On two-lane highways, drivers would be required to reduce speed before passing.

Failure to obey the rule would result in up to $500 fines.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 30 states have implemented similar safety zone rules.

The bill – S180 – now awaits initial consideration on the Senate floor. An identical Assembly bill – A1179 – is awaiting initial consideration on the Assembly floor.

To view other legislative activities of interest for New Jersey in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor