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New Jersey bill seeks to extend school zone speed limits

New Jersey state lawmakers have proposed legislation that would allow municipalities and counties to make lower speed limits around schools permanent rather than only during designated times and days. As one assemblyman said, "This gives us an opportunity to protect children and give municipal officials an opportunity to do the right thing for their communities."

Not everyone is in favor of the bill, which is called "Antwan's Law." It is named after a high school student who was fatally struck by a drunk driver in Burlington City on Route 130. Although he was in a school zone, the accident occurred around midnight.

Opponents of the legislation say that school zone speed limits are irrelevant in this case. One assemblyman said, "I don't believe this bill would have saved this young man, unfortunately, since drunk drivers rarely obey traffic speed limits or school signs."

An official with the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, however, says that the proposed legislation gives "consistency, so that drivers know that ‘I am near a school and I need to slow down.' There's no question as to when to slow down. It is always slow down." That official notes that pedestrian injury and fatality rates here in New Jersey are double the national average.

Another assemblyman argues that the bill is "counterproductive" and "destructive." He says that it will lead to drivers getting excessive fines for going above a specific low rate of speed outside of times when kids will be going to and from school.

Whether this bill becomes law in New Jersey remains to be seen. However, drivers are obligated to be on the lookout for pedestrians, whether in school zones or not. If you or a loved one has been struck by a driver while crossing the street, you should consult with an experienced New Jersey attorney to determine what your legal options are.

Source: New Jersey 101.5, "New lower speed limits near NJ schools: Safety or speed traps?," Michael Symons, May 18, 2017

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