Questions on bike, pedestrian safety could be added to driver's license tests

S.P. Sullivan | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com By S.P. Sullivan | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com The Star-Ledger
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on December 13, 2016 at 8:17 AM, updated December 13, 2016 at 9:56 AM

TRENTON -- Looking to head off tragedies involving pedestrians and cyclists, a group of New Jersey lawmakers have introduced a bill that would require the state to quiz would-be drivers on the rules of sharing the road.

A bill before the state Assembly (A4165) would require driver's education courses cover material on sharing the road with "pedestrians, bicyclists, skaters and riders of motorized scooters and other non-motorized vehicles."

The measure would also require the state Motor Vehicle Commission to include questions on its learner's permit and basic driver's license tests covering situations such as passing a cyclist, recognizing bike lanes, navigating busy intersections and exiting a vehicle without endangering cyclists and those on foot, according to the text of the bill.

Its sponsors, all lawmakers from Hudson County, say more and more of their constituents are traveling by bike -- often in the state's most congested areas, and sometimes with tragic results.

"As we're seeing with the introduction of more bike share programs, motorists have to share the road with many people who are walking or operating other types of vehicles on a regular basis," said Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro (D-Hudson), in a statement.

Pedestrians, too, face risks, said Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-Hudson), citing the October death of an 11-year-old boy who was struck by a bus while walking in Jersey City.

Mukherji said that while reducing the number of traffic fatalities in the state is a "complex matter that requires a multi-faceted approach, improving driver's education is a critical piece of the puzzle."

The bill was advanced by the Assembly transportation committee on Monday. It has not yet been introduced in the Senate.

S.P. Sullivan may be reached at ssullivan@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter. Find NJ.com on Facebook.