Do you slow down when you drive past somebody walking biking or riding a scooter in the street?

Many motorists do not, so a new law could soon take effect in the Garden State that aims to force drivers to be more careful when there are pedestrians or cyclists on the side of the roadway.

A package of bills — A5570, A5571, A5579, A5656 — approved by the Legislature and sent to Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk would require drivers to change into another lane or leave at least 4 feet between their vehicle and the person they’re passing.

If changing lanes or moving 4 feet away isn’t possible, drivers would be required to slow down to 25 miles an hour.

Tracy Noble, a spokeswoman for AAA Mid-Atlantic, said drivers should be more careful when there are pedestrians or riders around them but sometimes that’s not the case.

“It’s an issue unfortunately that has become a major problem in New Jersey. Over the past several years we have seen an increase in pedestrian fatalities,” she said.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 150 pedestrians are killed by motorists every year in New Jersey. But with more people working from home during the pandemic, a report by the Governors Highway Safety Association found pedestrian deaths spiked to 191 last year.

“A lot of it has to do with motorists being distracted and unaware of what’s happening around them, which is an epic problem,” Noble said. “We truly need people to pay attention when they’re operating a vehicle. They need to abide by the rules and regulations of the road and really get back to the basics of driving.”

Noble pointed out people in cars and trucks have a big safety advantage with seatbelts, airbags “and now even advanced technology that alerts us if we are shifting lanes improperly, pedestrians and cyclists don’t have that.”

She said cyclists need to stay to the side of the road and travel in the same direction as traffic. Pedestrians need to use crosswalks or wait for the light at intersections.

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

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