(TRENTON) – Addressing public safety concerns caused by turn-by-turn navigation systems, Assemblymen Gordon Johnson and Clinton Calabrese have introduced legislation that would authorize the Attorney General to require navigation app makers to reroute vehicular traffic when emergency conditions are present.
The bill stems from concerns raised in Leonia, NJ of heavy traffic flooding neighborhood streets as a result of navigational apps rerouting drivers away from the NJ Turnpike.
“The concern in Leonia goes beyond traffic, it’s a matter of public safety, our first responders being able to address emergencies, and freeing the community from the dangers of gridlock,” said Johnson (D-Bergen). “It is unacceptable for navigational apps to place the burden on local law enforcement and a local community’s budget. We should hold the app makers accountable and require them to respond and make changes when a heightened public safety concern is present.”
The bill (A-4222) establishes the “Swift Access for Emergency Response Actions Preservation Program (SAFER APP).” Under the bill, the governing body of a municipality may adopt a resolution requesting the Attorney General to investigate whether use of turn-by-turn navigation systems by drivers creates an emergency condition within the municipality. The resolution must be reviewed within 90 days by the Transportation Commissioner and approved before going to the Attorney General to begin the investigation. If the Transportation Commissioner does not approve the resolution, they must inform the municipality of the reasoning.
“Thousands of drivers use navigational apps to find their way to a destination,” said Calabrese (D-Bergen, Passaic). “Unfortunately, they can create unwanted traffic where it may not have existed before that could further put public safety at risk. Our medical, police and fire personnel should never have to navigate around this kind of traffic in route to an emergency.”
Upon the approval of the resolution by the commissioner, this bill provides that the Attorney General, in consultation with the commissioner and municipality, is to investigate the traffic conditions described in the resolution to determine whether an emergency exists. The bill authorizes the Attorney General to notify, electronically and in writing any person, business, or other entity having ownership or control of a turn-by-turn navigation system of the emergency condition and the Attorney General is to order the person, business, or other entity, when providing instructions to a driver, to detour, reroute, or divert vehicular traffic to remove the emergency condition.
The bill provides that any person, business, or other entity having ownership or control of a turn-by-turn navigation system that fails to detour, reroute, or divert vehicular traffic to remove the emergency condition after being notified by the Attorney General is to be subject to a fine of not more than $5,000 per day, which is to be paid to the affected municipality, until the person, business or other entity complies with the order.
The bill was referred to the Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee.