(TRENTON) — Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Robert Andrzejczak, Vince Mazzeo and Adam Taliaferro to improve roadway safety for farmers and rural motorists is now law.
“Many farmers have to operate their farm vehicles on public roads, which can be nerve-wracking 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 farming work. Equipping them with safety gear, implementing rules that can help prevent 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 new law (formerly A-3927) requires drivers to slow down before passing slow moving vehicles; establishes a statewide educational campaign on rural roadway safety; and updates agriculture-related motor vehicle laws to reflect current industry practices.
- expands the types of vehicles that may qualify for farmer license plates to include vans and sport utility vehicles;
- requires the distance registered farm vehicles are permitted to travel on public highways be set by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) at a minimum of 50 miles;
- increases the number of hours that registered farm vehicles may be operated on the roadways to include three hours before sunrise and three hours after sunset, provided that the vehicle is equipped with proper safety lighting;
- increases the threshold speed capacity of a vehicle to qualify for farm registration status from 20 to 35 miles per hour; and
- requires the MVC to adopt rules and regulations for the registration of self-propelled sprayers.
The law also requires the MVC to design a slow moving vehicle emblem, which would be affixed to the rear of any motor vehicle used exclusively as a tractor or used to draw a farm tractor, traction equipment, farm machinery, or farm implement.
Drivers traveling in the same direction as, and approaching, a vehicle with a slow moving vehicle emblem are required — prior to overtaking the slow moving vehicle — to first reduce speed to match that of the slow moving vehicle. Violators face fines between $100 and $500 per offense, however, this 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.
Additionally, the MVC and the state Division of Highway Traffic Safety must now establish a statewide educational campaign to promote roadway safety in rural areas of the state. The educational campaign is required to educate residents on this and other laws concerning vehicles with slow moving vehicle emblems.
All provisions of this law will go into effect on January 1, 2017.