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TRENTON - In an effort to bring awareness to the dangers of driving aggressively, a bill sponsored by Senator Linda R. Greenstein that would teach New Jersey's new drivers the risks of road rage was approved yesterday by the Senate Transportation Committee.
"Preparing for and getting a driver’s license can be an exciting time for young New Jerseyans, but understanding the dangers of the road is essential for the safety of those drivers, particularly with New Jersey's very congested roadways," said Senator Greenstein, D-Midddlesex and Mercer. "Experience is key when handling aggressive driving on the roads – from tailgating to erratic lane changes – and new drivers just don't have the experience yet. Ensuring that driver's education courses take the time to teach young drivers how to recognize and handle these situations will begin to prepare them for what to expect when they hit the road."
The bill, S-1791, would require the New Jersey's driver’s license written examination and driver education curriculum in New Jersey high schools to cover the dangers of aggressive driving. Additionally the bill would require the Office of Highway Traffic Safety and the Motor Vehicle Commission to include the dangers of aggressive driving within their informational brochure for the parents and guardians of beginning drivers.
Driving aggressively is defined under the bill as unexpectedly altering the speed of a vehicle, making improper or erratic traffic lane changes, disregarding traffic control devices, failing to yield the right of way, and following another vehicle too closely.
Senator Greenstein recently authored a law that increased the penalties for aggressive driving in New Jersey. Named for a former Hamilton resident, who in 2005 at the age of 16, was left paralyzed from the chest down in a road rage crash, "Jessica Rogers' Law" upgraded the penalty of assault by auto that causes serious harm to a third degree offense and assault by auto that causes bodily hard to a fourth degree offense.
According to the AAA Foundation, by self-reports in polls, one-half of New Jersey drivers have been angry behind the wheel and have tried to punish others. Senator Greenstein noted that this figure coupled with the fact that New Jersey residents drive a total of 75 billion miles each year, greatly increases the chance for an aggressive driving incident to occur on New Jersey roads.
The bill was approved by the Committee with a vote of 4-0. It now heads to the full Senate for consideration.
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