TRENTON – A bill inspired by the death of a Burlington City teen who was struck and killed by a passing motorist on Route 130 two years ago advanced from the Senate recently.
Antwan's Law — S-1484 — is named for Antwan Timbers Jr., 17, who died after being struck near midnight in May 2016 as he waited to cross an intersection along Route 130, one of the state’s most dangerous roads for pedestrians.
The bill picked up Senate approval with a vote of 34-1 and next heads to the Assembly for further consideration. It must pass both houses and then earn Gov. Phil Murphy's signature before becoming a law.
State Sen. Troy Singleton (D-Burlington) helped sponsor the legislation to make roadways safer for pedestrians.
The measure would permanently reduce the speed limit to 25 mph on Route 130 near Burlington City High School and Wilbur Watts Intermediate School and would also triple fines for those caught speeding in the school zone.
“Antwan’s heartbreaking death was a painful incident that underscores what the data on Route 130 has shown for years — that this is one of the most dangerous roads for pedestrians in our state,” said Singleton in a news release. “Whether they're going to school or to get a slice of pizza with friends, our kids are in danger every time they cross this highway.
“Thanks to the activism of the Burlington City High School students and the advocacy of my predecessor, Sen. Diane Allen, Antwan’s Law is one step closer to becoming an actuality. It will not only be impactful in this community, but in other areas across the state where children face a similar hazard near their schools."
Burlington City High School sits just off Route 130 North and parts of Wilbur Watts Intermediate School back up to Route 130 South on the opposite side.
The speed limit is 25 mph when children are going to and leaving school during school hours, but increases to 40 mph all other times.
A year ago, the New Jersey Department of Transportation implemented changes to traffic patterns on Route 130 in Burlington City, narrowing the highway from three lanes to two — something they call a “road diet” — in hopes of getting drivers to slow down.
Prompted by their classmates’ death, Burlington City High School students started a “25 Saves Lives” campaign two years ago, calling for a full-day reduction in the speed limit in the school zone along Route 130 as well.
Allen, who is now retired, came to the high school two years ago to introduce the piece of legislation, with Timbers' family present. He was a block away from his high school when he was fatally struck by a drunken driver, whose vehicle left the roadway.
“The safety of our children is a priority that I take seriously,” Singleton told the Courier-Post. “This initiative will help provide that safety and I am pleased by the bipartisan manner in which it was advanced."