When Road Rage Becomes a Criminal Offense
A tragic case of road rage made the national news over the weekend. By now, you’ve probably heard about the shooting of a high school graduate in Pennsylvania. According to witness reports, the teen’s car and a red pickup truck were playing a game of “cat-and-mouse” on the roadway. The truck driver then allegedly shot the girl in the head, causing her to veer off the road and hit a tree. It was a tragedy and a sad reminder of how an act of aggressive driving can quickly get out of hand.
With many Americans hitting the road for the extended July 4th weekend and beyond, tempers will flare and patience will be tested. But could even a simple road rage incident become a criminal offense?
New Jersey’s Jessica Rogers Law
In New Jersey, yes it is possible thanks to the Jessica Rogers Law. Signed into law by Gov. Christie in 2012, is named for road rage victim Jessica Rogers, who became paralyzed after a 2005 road rage accident. Rogers had undergone several surgeries and hundreds of hours of physical therapy; meanwhile, the driver that caused the accident had served only four months in jail.
According to the law, drivers who caused serious injuries in a road rage incident will face three to five years in prison and a $15,000 fine for the third-degree offense. If it’s a fourth-degree offense, meaning the injuries are not as severe, the driver will face a maximum of 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Suffering Road Rage? Here’s What to Do
With temperatures rising and more people on the road in the summertime, now is the perfect time for more road rage incidents to occur. According to the American Safety Council, 66 percent of all traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving, which road rage falls under as we learned in a previous blog. Of those incidents, 37 percent involved a firearm. Over a seven-year period, 218 murders and 12,610 injuries were attributed to road rage incidents.
So what can you do to avoid a confrontation? Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Don’t instigate. Instead, try to defuse the situation. Instead of cursing out the driver or making an obscene gesture, try to say “I’m sorry” with a short wave.
- If someone is tailgating you, move over as soon as you can.
- Avoid eye contact with an angry driver and give them plenty of room.
- When planning your trip, allow time for delays. That way you’re not hurrying to get to your destination, causing stress and aggression.
- Control your anger. If need be, pull off the road and calm down before continuing with your journey.
- Use your horn sparingly. Sometimes, even a polite honk can be misinterpreted.
- Don’t block the lanes. If someone wants to pass you, just let them.
If you get into a traffic accident or are involved in a road rage incident, then you may need a lawyer. Contact the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone today for a free consultation.