(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Robert Andrzejczak, Vince Mazzeo and Adam Taliaferro to improve roadway safety for farmers and rural motorists was recently approved by the Senate Transportation Committee.
“Many farmers have to operate their farm vehicles on public roads, which can be nerve-wrecking if you have cars zipping past you,” said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). “It is important for their safety and the safety of regular motorists that we implement measures that will allow these drivers to comfortably share the road and minimize the potential for accidents.”
“Motorists may not be accustomed to sharing the road with these large, slow-moving vehicles and that can be problematic,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “These vehicles are essential to miscues on the road and educating the public about these rules can lessen the potential for accidents.”
“It can be tough driving on rural roads, especially behind a farm tractor,” said Taliaferro (D-Cumberland, Gloucester, Salem). “An education campaign will help with drivers learn road etiquette when navigating slow moving agricultural vehicles on the public roads.”
The bill (A-3927) would require drivers to slow down before passing slow moving vehicles; establish a statewide educational campaign on rural roadway safety; and update agriculture-related motor vehicle laws to reflect current industry practices. Specifically, the bill would:
- expand the types of vehicles that may qualify for farmer license plates to include vans and sport utility vehicles;
- require the distance permitted to be traveled by a registered farm vehicle upon the public highways to be set by the Chief Administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (chief administrator) at a distance of at least 50 miles;
- increase the number of hours that registered farm vehicles may be operated on the roadways to include the three hours before sunrise and the three hours after sunset, provided that the vehicle is equipped with proper safety lighting;
- increase the threshold speed capacity of a vehicle in order for registration to be required for that vehicle from 20 miles per hour to 35 miles per hour; and
- require the chief administrator to adopt rules and regulations for the registration of self-propelled sprayers.
The bill would require the chief administrator to design a slow moving vehicle emblem to be affixed to the rear of any motor vehicle, not for hire, used exclusively as or to draw a farm tractor, traction equipment, farm machinery, or farm implement. All motor vehicles not for hire used for these purposes would be required to affix the emblem to the rear of the vehicle.
The driver of a motor vehicle traveling in the same direction as and approaching a vehicle with a slow moving vehicle emblem would be required – prior to overtaking the slow moving vehicle -to reduce his or her speed to that of the slow moving vehicle. The provision does not apply in areas where there are two or more lanes of traffic flowing in the same direction as the slow moving vehicle. Violators would be subject to a fine between $100 and $500.
The chief administrator, in consultation with the Division of Highway Traffic Safety in the Department of Law and Public Safety, would be required to establish a statewide educational campaign to promote roadway safety in rural areas of the state. The educational campaign would include educating people on the laws concerning vehicles with slow moving vehicle emblems.
The bill will now go to the Senate President for further consideration.