NEWARK, NJ, JULY 27, 2004 – New Jersey roadways will become a safer place on August 1, the date a new State law goes into effect requiring motorists to yield the right-of-way to buses re-entering traffic after picking up or discharging passengers.
The new law, which was sponsored by Assemblywoman Linda Stender, Assemblyman John S. Wisniewski, and Assemblyman Jack Connors, will require drivers of non-emergency vehicles approaching a NJ TRANSIT or private carrier bus to allow the bus back into the flow of traffic once the passenger stop is completed. New Jersey is one of the first states to pass this type of legislation. Similar laws have been passed in three other states: Florida, Washington and Oregon.
"One of the primary tasks Governor McGreevey assigned to us when he came into office was to improve safety throughout New Jersey's transportation system," said NJ TRANSIT Chairman and Transportation Commissioner Jack Lettiere. "The Governor's 'Safety-First' initiative has been a tremendous success, and this legislation is another step toward his goal of improving safety in all facets of transportation."
"Each year the number of commuters in New Jersey continues to grow, worsening congestion on our roadways,” Assemblywoman Stender said. “This bill will further our efforts to make mass transportation safer, more efficient and attractive to New Jersey residents."
"This new law is designed to increase the safety of our roadways and the efficiency of our mass transit," said Assemblyman Wisniewski. "By helping buses merge safely back into traffic after pulling into a bus stop, we can keep traffic moving while making the roads safer.
“The request for this legislation was brought to us by our members and we’d like to thank Assemblywoman Stender, Assemblyman Wisniewski and Assemblyman Jack Connors,” said Dan O’Connell, New Jersey State Legislative Director of the United Transportation Union. “New Jersey has some of the most congested highways in the nation. Our hope is this new law will make the workday for our members a little easier.”
“This is a great piece of legislation that not only provides good service for people who use public transportation but keeps our roads safe,” said Vito Forlenza, Chairman of the Amalgamated Transit Unions. “I commend the legislators involved in putting together this new law.”
More than 400,000 NJ TRANSIT customers travel by bus on an average weekday. The law applies to buses that are re-entering a traffic lane after a stop. Once a motorist has yielded to a bus and both vehicles are traveling along the roadway, a motorist does not have to yield further if a bus signals to change lanes. Violations carry a fine between $50 and $200, and a jail term of up to 15 days.
“This is a basic safety issue that we hope will reduce accidents,” said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director George Warrington. “We want to educate our customers about this new initiative and how it affects them not only as passengers, but also as motorists.”
Over the next several months, NJ TRANSIT will raise awareness of the new law by placing posters inside terminals, outside and inside buses, and mailing customers information with their monthly passes.
NJ TRANSIT is the nation's largest statewide public transportation system providing more than 752,600 daily trips on 240 bus routes, three light rail lines and 11 commuter rail lines. It is the third largest transit system in the country with 162 rail stations, 49 light rail stations and more than 17,000 bus stops linking major points in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia.