TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Nia H. Gill to promote pedestrian safety, by requiring driver education courses, exams and informational brochures distributed by the state Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) to contain information to educate drivers on safely sharing the road with pedestrians, bicyclists and others, was approved Friday by the Senate.
“It is critical that we work to improve public safety on our roadways and to prevent pedestrian deaths in our state,” said Senator Gill (D-Essex and Passaic). “This legislation aims to strengthen education for new drivers, including requiring additional focus on this issue in driver education and on examinations. Hopefully, we can help to increase awareness amongst residents and improve compliance with traffic safety laws, so that we can reduce the instances of pedestrian-related accidents, end the tragedies that too often occur, and save lives.”
According to a published report on NJ.com, pedestrian fatalities in New Jersey increased this year to the highest number seen in more than two decades. State police statistics show that 180 pedestrians had died as of December; 20 more than the 160 killed in 2016. It was also the highest number of pedestrian deaths recorded by the state Division of Highway Safety in 24 years, since 197 were killed in 1993, the report said.
The bill (S-2894) would require that the curriculum for approved classroom driver education courses and the informational brochure distributed by the Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) to the parents and guardians of beginning drivers include the following: information concerning operating a motor vehicle in a manner that safely shares the roadway with pedestrians, cyclists, skaters, riders of motorized-scooters, and other non-motorized vehicles. Information on non-motorized vehicles could be, but is not to be limited to, passing a cyclist on the road, recognizing bicycle lanes, navigating intersections with pedestrians and cyclists, and exiting a vehicle without endangering pedestrians and cyclists.
The legislation would further require the MVC to include questions about cyclist and pedestrian safety as part of the written examination required to obtain an examination permit, a special learner’s permit, and a basic driver’s license.
The bill would take effect on the first day of the seventh month after enactment. The Senate approved the legislation by a vote of 33-0. It next heads to the Assembly for consideration.