Drivers reminded to ‘Move Over’ this summer

With summer traffic in full swing, Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey are reminding drivers that they must move over if they spot an emergency vehicle on the side of the road.

On Tuesday, June 19, the Assembly Members hosted a press conference on the Asbury Park Boardwalk to discuss the importance of the “Move Over Law.” The Assembly Members were joined by Wayne Blanchard, President of the New Jersey State Troopers Union; Donna Setaro, a champion of the Move Over Law whose son, State Trooper Marc Castellano was fatally struck while responding to a call on the side of the road; Asbury Park Mayor John Moor; and Pat Colligan, President of the NJSPBA.

“We want people to get to their destinations safely. We want the same for our roadside emergency workers,” said Houghtaling. “If you’re on the slow lane and spot an emergency vehicle on the side of the road, switch lanes. If you can’t switch lanes, slow down. It’s really that simple.”

“We all know how busy our highways are during the summer months. With traffic comes accidents, car troubles and road maintenance. We are asking drivers to be mindful of their surroundings for their safety, and the safety of others,” said Downey. “The ‘Move Over Law’ is very straightforward. Move over if you can; slow down if you can’t.”

The “Move Over Law” requires motorists to move over, when possible, when they spot service vehicles including police cars, firetrucks and tow trucks with flashing lights.

“Changing lanes and slowing down may seem like a small thing, but moving over for a police officer, a maintenance worker or an emergency responder can save lives. It’s so simple. Slow down, move over and be mindful. If you are driving to the shore this summer, please, mind the ‘Move Over Law.’ The consequences for violating it could be life and death,” said Donna Setaro, the mother of late-New Jersey State Trooper Marc Castellano.

“The ‘Move Over Law’ is a simple yet vital traffic law that we expect all drivers to adhere to. If you see an emergency responder, a police officer, a maintenance worker or any other professional responding to an incident on the side of the road, safely change lanes. If you are unable to do so in a safe manner, please slow down as you pass. We want to make sure everyone has a safe and enjoyable summer. Please do your part in ensuring our police officers and emergency responders do as well,” said Wayne Blanchard, President of the New Jersey State Troopers Union.

Assembly Members Houghtaling and Downey are currently sponsoring a bill to strengthen the “Move Over Law” by imposing motor vehicle penalty points for violations of the law. They also sponsored a law to increase observance of the “Move Over Law” via public awareness programs and electronic message road signs.

Under New Jersey’s “Move Over Law,” drivers are required to reduce the speed of their vehicles and change lanes when approaching an authorized emergency vehicle, tow truck or highway maintenance, emergency service or sanitation vehicle that is displaying flashing, blinking or alternating emergency lights. Violators are subject to a fine of between $100 and $500.

The bill (A-3890) would require two motor vehicle penalty points to be assessed when a driver violates the “Move Over Law.” The accumulation of motor vehicle penalty points may result in additional penalties, including the imposition of surcharges and a license suspension.

“Adding points to the ‘Move Over Law’ only stands to strengthen this important traffic law and deter drivers from ignoring it,” said Pat Colligan. “Our police officers, our emergency responders and our maintenance workers have enough to worry about while responding to calls. They should not have to worry about drivers as well. By strengthening this law, we can literally save lives.”

Assembly Members Houghtaling and Downey said they were inspired by Donna Setaro and her tireless campaign to raise awareness about New Jersey’s “Move Over Law.” Setaro’s son, New Jersey State Trooper Marc Castellano, was struck and killed while standing on the shoulder of Route 195 in 2010. Setaro has since brought her “Move Over AwaReness Campaign,” or MARC, to thousands of people all over the state, and last month reached her personal goal of spreading her message to 100,000 people.

“People may not realize the importance of the ‘Move Over Law’ until tragedy strikes. Trooper Castellano paid for this mistake with his life,” said Houghtaling. “There is good reason why this law is on the books. Adding points to a person’s driver’s record will help serve as a further deterrent.”

“The ‘Move Over Law’ is very straightforward and yet people continue to break it, putting themselves and others in danger,” said Downey. “No one wants points on their driving records. Toughening the penalty will 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.”