Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey recently passed a bill making acts of “road rage” a punishable offense. Anyone in New Jersey who acts out on the motorway can get up to five years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
Bill inspired by tragedy
The state of New Jersey, according to AutoBlog, has passed a law making “road rage,” or acts of aggression while driving, a crime. The law was inspired by a tragic accident that left a teenager paralyzed.
Jessica Rogers, according to The Trentonian, of Hamilton, N.J., was a passenger in a friend’s car, sitting in the back seat when an enraged driver, Daniel Robbins Jr., tore through traffic, chasing a car after being cut off. The Robbins lost control of his car, hitting the car carrying Rogers and crashing into a utility pole. The accident, which occurred in 2005, resulted in Rogers being paralyzed from the waist down. Robbins served four months in jail.
The law, called Jessica Rogers’ Law, targets aggressive driving by upping the penalties for acts of aggressive driving that result in accidents.
Up to five years in the slammer
The penalties depend upon the severity of the offense. Instances of people driving aggressively will be prosecuted as disorderly persons charges. However, road rage that results in a non-serious accident is upgraded to fourth-degree vehicular assault, according to NJ.com, which can result in up to 18 months in jail and $10,000 in fines.
Serious accidents, such as the one that paralyzed Jessica Rogers, are now third degree vehicular assault. People found guilty can face up to $15,000 in fines and three to five years in prison. Robbins was initially sentenced to six months in jail with five years’ probation, but served four months. Rogers, in March, underwent the 27th surgery related to injuries sustained in the crash.
According to MSNBC, road rage has been linked by psychologists to a disorder called intermittent explosive disorder, which is said to affect up to 16 million people in the U.S.
The term, according to The Atlantic, doesn’t appear to have been used before 1988 and was barely mentioned in media and other reports until 1994, when use of the term accelerated. A report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found 12,610 injuries and 218 deaths occurred in 10,000 documented instances of road rage between 1990 and 2000.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, most states include behaviors described as “road rage” under laws outlawing “aggressive driving.” Prior to New Jersey’s law, there were 15 states, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association, with laws dealing with aggressive driving, though not all could be construed to impose stiffer penalties on road rage.
The Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/issues/98aug/roadrage.htm
AOL Autos: http://autos.aol.com/article/road-rage-aggressive-driving-cities/
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/enforce/speedlaws501/summtable_aggressive.htm
Governors Highway Safety Association: http://www.ghsa.org/html/stateinfo/laws/aggressivedriving_laws.html