From the Assembly: Remember The Move Over Law

Police car. (File photo)
Police car. (File photo)

You see it every day: a police officer pulling over a driver on the side of the road; a maintenance crew setting up cones; an ambulance responding to the scene of a crash.

How do you respond when you happen upon one of these sights? Do you continue driving in your lane, not giving it another thought? For far too many drivers, this is the case. These sights have become so commonplace in our daily commute that we don’t realize the dangers that these professionals face when drivers speed by. But the harsh reality remains: when you don’t move over or slow down, lives are at stake.

The Move Over Law is a simple and common sense means of reducing the dangers that police officers, emergency responders, and maintenance workers face while out on the job. When you see a professional working on the side of the road, slow down and move over. If you are unable to safely move over, then reduce your speed below the posted speed limit and drive carefully past the scene. This is a simple traffic law that should be second nature to any driver passing an emergency response or maintenance vehicle on the side of the road. Unfortunately, far too many drivers are either unaware of this law or simply do not adhere to it.

We became vocal supporters of the Move Over Law after meeting local advocate Donna Setaro. Ms. Setaro’s son, New Jersey State Trooper Marc Castellano, was struck and killed while standing on the shoulder of Route 195 in 2010. His tragic death inspired the Move Over Law and has spared countless innocent lives.

Ms. Setaro has since brought her “Move over AwaReness Campaign,” or MARC, to thousands of people all over the state, and recently reached her personal goal of spreading her message to 100,000 people.

Working with Ms. Setaro, we have made it our mission to increase awareness for this vital traffic law. Our police officers, emergency responders, and maintenance workers deserve to feel safe when they are deployed on the side of the road. They should not have to worry about a distracted or speeding driver losing control of their vehicle.

Recently, in an effort to increase awareness and encourage compliance, we worked to introduce a bill to revise the penalties associated with violations of New Jersey’s Move Over Law. The bill, which recently advanced out of the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee, would require two motor vehicle points to be assessed when a driver fails to abide by the Move Over Law.

Currently, violators of the Move Over Law are subject to a fine between $100 and $500. We want to do everything we can to protect our state’s law enforcement officers. By penalizing individuals who violate the state’s Move Over Law with points, they will understand that this is not an issue we in New Jersey take lightly. We need to send a clear message to motorists about the importance of the law and serve as a better deterrent against distracted driving, which is the main cause of crashes in the state.

So, as you take to the roads this holiday season, and face the inevitable traffic that comes along with the Christmas commute, please remember the Move Over Law. You may just save a life.

Office of Senator Vin Gopal, and Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey

*The opinions expressed in the Letters To The Editor section do not necessarily reflect those of the staff, management or sponsors of Micromedia Publications/Jersey Shore Online. Letters to the Editor are the OPINION of the writer and the content is not necessarily checked for accuracy.*