TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill into law Friday strengthening penalties for road rage.
The bill is named after Jessica Rogers who was just 16-years-old when a road rage accident left her paralyzed from the chest down in 2005.
WCBS 880’s Levon Putney reports
Rogers was among a group of teens riding in a friend’s car. Another vehicle cut them off and the driver she was with became angry and gave chase. The rage ended when the vehicle crashed into a telephone pole.
Over the past seven years, she’s been through two dozen surgeries.
The driver spent four months in jail.
“As a parent, Jessica Rogers’ story hits close to home,” Christie said. “Through the actions of an enraged driver, tragedy was levied on the Rogers family and justice was left out of reach because the laws of our state were not adequate to appropriately prosecute the crime.”
Under the revised statute, aggressive drivers who cause injuries could be sentenced to as much as five years in jail and fined $15,000 — the same penalties as those who cause injuries while driving drunk.
“I hope it will make people think before they act,” said Rogers, who lives in Hamilton and aspires to become a psychologist, “whether they’re flipping people off, yelling at people, cutting people off.”
Though it is difficult to track the number of road rage incidents, State Highway Traffic Safety Director Gary Poedubicky estimates that the accidents account for about one-third of all crashes and about two-thirds result in fatalities.
The bill was unanimously passed by both chambers of New Jersey’s Legislature in March.
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