New Jersey’s Safe Passing Law Takes Effect

In August of last year, the New Jersey state legislature passed a bill intended to create safer conditions for bicyclists and pedestrians on New Jersey roads.

The New Jersey Safe Passing Law adds additional requirements for drivers when passing cyclists, pedestrians, and those driving motorized scooters or wheelchairs.

This new law took effect on March 1st, with a full education and public awareness campaign soon to follow.

Here’s a quick overview of the law’s requirements and how they may lead to safer conditions for pedestrians, cyclists, and others throughout New Jersey.

Ensuring driver safety

As COVID-19 restrictions lifted and more drivers returned to the road last year, pedestrian and cyclist deaths rose to sobering new levels.

In 2021, 223 pedestrians were killed on New Jersey roadways—the highest number of pedestrian fatalities in over 30 years. Cyclist fatalities have also risen in each of the past two years, and the total number of vehicle-related deaths rose to a level the state hadn’t seen since 2007.

In light of these statistics, the need for better roadway safety measures is clear. The New Jersey Safe Passing Law will hopefully serve as an important step toward greater safety for New Jersey cyclists and pedestrians.

The new law

New Jersey’s Safe Passing Law lays out a few straightforward but important new requirements for drivers.

The law applies specifically to drivers who are approaching a pedestrian, bicyclist, scooter rider, or someone using “any other lawful personal conveyance” in “an area designated for pedestrians or those conveyances” (i.e., a crosswalk, bicycle lane, walkway on the shoulder of the road, etc.). In this situation, drivers are now required to:

  1. Move over one lane to allow for extra space whenever it is possible and safe to do so

  2. If it is not possible to safely or lawfully move over one lane, drivers must allow for at least four feet of space while approaching and passing

  3. If neither moving over nor allowing four feet of space is possible without violating traffic laws or otherwise jeopardizing safety, drivers must reduce the speed of their vehicle to 25 miles per hour and be prepared to stop if necessary

Regardless of whether they’ve taken the steps listed above, drivers must also refrain from passing unless “passing does not endanger the safety of a pedestrian, operator of [a] personal conveyance, or any other person on the roadway.”

Possible repercussions

Drivers who are found to have violated the New Jersey Safe Passing Law will be fined $100 if the violation doesn’t result in personal injury.

If the violation does result in bodily injury to a pedestrian, cyclist, or another individual using the roadway, the driver will be fined $500 and assessed two motor vehicle penalty points.