Changes in Driver Education Inspired by Young Driver Paralyzed in Road Rage Accident
A recent new law, signed early May by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, was inspired by a Hamilton teenage who was left paralyzed as a result of a road rage crash. This law has then inspired changes to the driver education program helping to inform and warn new drivers about the dangers associated with aggressive driving. Additionally, new questions are being incorporated into the New Jersey driver’s license testing to include information surrounding dangerous aggressive driving.
Democratic Senator Linda Greenstein, a major supporter of the new legislation as well as the integration of aggressive diving into the education program, was quoted in a recent NJ.com article saying, “If you make people aware early on — if you have them study it, think about it and test them on it — then it becomes a part of their thinking when it comes to driving. It doesn’t seem like an afterthought … It seems very basic and important, a common sense thing and yet it really isn’t for all people.”
The new bill and new driver’s education standards in New Jersey were inspired by former Hamilton resident Jessica Rogers. Rogers was left paralyzed after a 2005 road rage crash when she was only 16 years old. Rogers was a passenger in a vehicle that chased down another driver after being cutoff on the road – the driver of Rogers’ vehicle was aggressively weaving in and out of traffic to catch up to the other driver when the vehicle crashed into a telephone pole, changing Rogers’ life forever.
Rogers’ story has also inspired another bill called “Jessica’s Law” which has increased the penalties for drivers who aggressive behavior and road rage while driving causes serious injuries to passengers or other driver. Under this new law, individuals who are convicted face a $15,000 fine and between three and five years in prison. Incidents of aggressive driving that lead to less substantial injuries for those involved carries a penalty of a $10,000 fine and up to 18 months in jail.
“This was something Jessica Rogers mentioned way back,” Greenstein continued. “She was so excited about the original law, but this was something she wanted to see — education in the schools and through the driving tests. For a while it was lagging and now it’s gone through.” The primary sponsors of the bill, Democratic assembly members Shavonda Sumter and John Wisniewski, stated in a press release that the new legislation will help to make driving safer for all drivers across the state.