Driver Safety

Cell Phone Safety

As of July 1, 2014, the fines for talking or texting on a hand-held wireless communications device were increased:

  • First time offenders face fines of $200-$400.
  • Second time offenders face fines of $400-$600.
  • Third time, and subsequent offenders face fines of $600-$800.
  • Also, beginning with the third offense, there will be three (3) points assessed to the driver's record and there may be a 90-day driver license suspension as well.  

Pedestrian Safety is a two-way street

Pedestrians are the second largest category of motor vehicle deaths and injuries in New Jersey.  In 2015 there were 173 pedestrian deaths. Unfortunately, many of the measures that make roads safer for motorists, such as large medians and wide shoulders, make those roads more treacherous for pedestrians. Vehicle-pedestrian collisions have a five percent fatality rate if the car is going 20 mph but the rate jumps to 85 percent at 40 mph.

Motorists should take special precautions to watch for pedestrians. Pedestrians have the right-of-way at all intersections, including intersections with no crosswalk markings (“unmarked crosswalks”). Motorists are prohibited from blocking or having a portion of their vehicle in the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or stop sign. When a motorist blocks a crosswalk, it presents a danger to pedestrians.

A motorist must stop and remain stopped for a pedestrian who is crossing at a marked crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon, or within one lane of, the half of the roadway, upon which the vehicle is traveling or onto which it is turning. A motorist is required to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection. Never pass a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk. Motorists who fail to yield to pedestrians or who overtake and pass vehicles that are stopped for pedestrians are subject, upon conviction for a violation of the law, to two (2) points, a $200 fine, and may also be required to perform up to 15 days of community service. More severe penalties apply where serious bodily injury to a pedestrian is caused by a motorist. (N.J.S.A. 39:4-36).When stopping for a crosswalk on a multi-lane road, a motorist should stop about 30 feet before a crosswalk to avoid blocking visibility of a motorist in the second lane.

Motorists should watch for signs that mark special hazard areas, such as school zones, bus stops, playgrounds, parks and schools where children   may play near or cross the street. Always watch for movement around and between parked vehicles.

Motorists should drive cautiously along roadways with on-street parking where pedestrians may walk between parked vehicles. Motorists traveling at lower speeds will have a greater ability to stop their vehicle and may be better prepared to avoid collisions with pedestrians.

At night, motorists should watch for pedestrians walking along roadways and should exercise due caution. Always yield to pedestrians and exercise care at intersections including when turning right on red after stopping, where permitted. Be alert for pedestrians when making turns and entering and exiting driveways, parking lots and alleys.

In addition to the requirements for motorists above, pedestrians also have a duty to exercise due caution for their own safety.  The law requires that pedestrians shall not leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield or stop.  In addition, the law requires that unless a pedestrian is within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, the pedestrian shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.

Move over for stationary emergency and other service vehicles

As of January 27, 2009, New Jersey’s “Move Over” law requires that all motorists approaching a stationary, authorized emergency vehicle, tow truck, highway maintenance, or other emergency service vehicle that is displaying a flashing, blinking or alternating red, blue, amber, or yellow light or, any configuration of lights containing one of these colors, must change lanes, safety and traffic conditions permitting, into a lane not adjacent to the authorized vehicle. If a lane change is impossible, prohibited by law or unsafe, the motorist must reduce the speed of his/her vehicle to a reasonable and proper speed that is lower than the posted speed limit and be prepared to stop, if necessary. Motorists who violate this law face a fine of not less than $100 and not more than $500. (C.39:4-92.2 and 39:3-84.6)

Seat Belts

Bringing attention to the need for New Jersey drivers and their passengers to buckle up has been a major part of the Motor Vehicle Commission’s (MVC) efforts to increase safety on highways and local roads.

With its partners at the NJ Division of Highway Traffic Safety and state and local law enforcement, the MVC has sought to increase seat belt usage and educate the public about the State’s seat belt laws. Statewide, more than 93 percent of drivers are in compliance for front seat belt usage, putting New Jersey on the right track to keep motorists safe.

In New Jersey, all passengers of a vehicle (front and back) must wear a seat belt. Failure to wear a seat belt as a front seat passenger is a primary offense, allowing law enforcement to stop the vehicle if an officer does not see a seat belt being used. For passengers in the back seat, failure to wear a seat belt is a secondary offense. Back seat passengers may be cited if the vehicle is stopped for another offense.

For more information, visit the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety website.