(TRENTON) - Legislation Assembly Democrats Annette Chaparro, Raj Mukherji, Nicholas Chiaravalloti, Angela McKnight and Valerie Vainieri Huttle sponsored to help ensure the safety of cyclists and pedestrians in New Jersey was approved Thursday by a Senate panel.
The bill (A-4165) would require the curriculum for driver's education courses in New Jersey to include information on sharing the road with pedestrians, cyclists, skaters and riders of motorized scooters and other non-motorized vehicles.
"I started seeing more people use bikes in my hometown of Hoboken, and so much of a driver's education is focused on interactions a driver may have with other automobiles," said Chaparro (D-Hudson). "But as we're seeing with the introduction of more bike share programs, motorists have to share the road with many people who are walking or operating other types of vehicles on a regular basis. In order to keep New Jersey's roadways safe for everyone, it's critical that new drivers learn the correct way to interact with bicyclists, pedestrians and others who are not in automobiles."
"Jersey City has experienced far too many pedestrian fatalities in recent years - including the heartbreaking death of 11-year-old George Gonzalez - and tragically, it's not the only community affected by this issue," said Mukherji (D-Hudson). "While making New Jersey's roads safer for those who aren't driving is a complex matter that requires a multi-faceted approach, improving driver's education is a critical piece of the puzzle."
"Traffic fatalities and injuries involving pedestrians and bicyclists often are the result of a motorist driving too fast or being distracted," said Chiaravalloti (D-Hudson). "In addition to emphasizing the importance of obeying the rules of the road and staying focused while behind the wheel, incorporating topics such as passing a cyclist on the road and navigating intersections with pedestrians and cyclists into the new curriculum for new drivers can help make New Jersey's streets safer for drivers and non-drivers alike."
"Everyone in New Jersey has a right to travel safely, regardless of whether or not they're in an automobile," said McKnight (D-Hudson). "Instilling a respect for pedestrians and bicyclists at an early age will foster an awareness of non-drivers on the road and keep all residents of the state safe."
"Pedestrian fatalities have been on the rise statewide, with Bergen County seeing the second highest number of fatal accidents involving pedestrians last year," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "New drivers need to be reminded that they share the road not just with cars, but pedestrians, bicyclists, and many others and this demands their constant attention."
Nearly 5,000 pedestrians and 700 cyclists are killed annually in traffic accidents in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The bill was approved by the Senate Transportation Committee. It was approved 67-0-2 by the Assembly in January.