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New Laws Restrict Use of Left Lane on New Jersey Highways

By: Attorney Paul A. Garfield

A new law increasing penalties for driving in the left lane was recently signed by Governor Chris Christie and took effect last week. New Jersey and other states have laws requiring drivers to keep right unless they are passing. These laws promote safety by allowing faster drivers to move through traffic without weaving or passing on the right.

On June 24, 2013, the New Jersey State Assembly passed a bill that changed the range of penalties for violating the state’s keep-right law from the previous range of $50 – $200 to an increased range of $100 – $300. Governor Christie signed the bill effective August 8, 2013.

Vehicles must stay right except when passing or turning left. This law also increases the penalty for drivers who swerve or choose not to stay in their lane. By no means is this law designed to validate or promote speeding.

When a car blocks the left lane, it increase both danger and traffic congestion. Slow drivers encourage other cars to tailgate that causes a line of drivers traveling too close to one another. Driving too slow can be as dangerous as driving too fast, and this increase in penalties is designed as a way to educate the public and create safer driving habits in the state.

While over 4,000 drivers were ticketed for blocking the left lane last year, the public must be better educated on this issue. Legislators hope that the new penalties, combined with media coverage of the penalties, will help solve the problem. As an added method to educate the public, an additional surcharge of $50 is being added to all tickets for failure to keep right. The money is going into a fund to be used to install and maintain road signs educating the public about keeping to the right as the danger and consequences of blocking traffic on major highways like the New Jersey Turnpike or Garden State Parkway.

Speaking on the dangers of blocking the left lane, personal injury attorney Marc C. Saperstein at the law firm of Davis, Saperstein, & Salomon, P.C., says, “Some people may think that this change in the penalty will encourage and even permit left lane speeding; however, this law does not change any of the penalties, fines and points associated with speeding when operating a motor vehicle or tractor trailer.”

An additional provision in the new law is aimed at truck drivers. Trucks over 5 tons on a divided highway now face an increased penalty for driving in the left lane. Trucks may only use the left lane to enter or exit a roadway unless an emergency or within one mile of making a left turn. “Trucks, busses, and commercial vehicles driving in the left hand lane cause traffic to move slowly and can force other drivers into dangerous situations. It is important for large rigs, busses and tractor-trailers to stay to the right,” says New Jersey truck accident lawyer Saperstein. “I know from my experience the tragic consequences of trucks speeding in the left lane. Often their negligence or their carelessness can cause the wrongful death or injury of other motorists.”

It is unfortunate that many drivers and their passengers are unnecessarily injured by interstate truckers every year in accidents caused by drivers passing on the right or swerving through lanes. Many of those injured people are our guests from out of state lawfully driving on New Jersey and New York’s interstate highways such as I95, Route I80, 287 or Route 78.

The lawyers of Davis, Saperstein, and Salomon, P.C., help persons injured by car and truck accidents in New Jersey and New York. They have years of experience in handling traffic accident wrongful death cases and they work hard to get accident victims and their families the compensation they deserve. Marc Saperstein understands the complex legal issues having over 33 years of experience representing people injured in truck accidents. As a lawyer who concentrates his practice in New York and New Jersey, Marc Saperstein handles many trucking accident cases. He is also a Civil Trial Attorney certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey. Prospective clients are offered free consultations or second opinions to learn how the legal process works. Marc Saperstein can be reached at 1-(800) LAW-2000.