New Jersey law requires drivers to move over a lane or slow down if any kind of police, fire, ambulance, towing, or highway maintenance vehicle is parked on the shoulder of the road with flashing lights.

But many drivers ignore the law, putting first responders in danger.

In 2010, State Trooper Marc Castellano was killed by an inattentive driver who veered onto the shoulder of the highway in Howell.

“My son was hit at 70 miles an hour, thrown 205 feet and landed on the blacktop,” said Castellano’s mother, Donna Setaro.

After the accident, Setaro put together a program to raise awareness about the move over law.

“We go around to high schools and make presentations. To date I’ve made 940 presentations to over a hundred thousand people.”

After attending one of the programs, Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling, D-Ocean, decided to sponsor legislation to toughen the penalties for violating the law by adding two points to the driver’s record in addition to fines between $100 and $500.

“Primarily, what we really want to do is more awareness, that’s really what we want. I don’t want to give anybody two points but if that’s what it takes to start strengthening this law then that’s what we’re going to need to do,” he said.

“There’s a very strong likelihood you’re going to be distracted a little bit, because there’s so much that goes on in cars nowadays. It’s not like you’re just driving, like in the old days. You just pushed the button to change the radio station, now there’s so much that goes on,” he said.

“Going by a vehicle on the side of the road, anything can happen. God forbid you hit something stationary — it’s lights out.”

He stressed any time there’s a vehicle on the shoulder of a roadway the driver must immediately ask themselves: "Can I pull over? And if I can’t pull over, can I slow down? You have to be able to do either one of those.”

Setaro said that a point violation will lead to people realizing "how serious this is and they’re going to tell other people about their experience.”

“I believe that the points just add credibility to the law and also will help us just educate the public," she said.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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