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Road rage topic for New Jersey legislature

New Jersey has introduced legislation that would increase the penalties for "road rage" behavior that causes injuries in car accidents. This all came about because of a young New Jersey resident who now sits in a wheelchair and is paralyzed as a result of a road rage incident.

Jessica Rogers was a passenger in a car driven by an individual angry that he had just been cut-off during traffic. The driver of the car then attempted to pass the vehicle that allegedly cut him off and instead crashed into a telephone pole. Ms. Rogers was 17-years old at the time of the accident and has been in a wheelchair ever since that time.

The criminal penalties in New Jersey for such road rage incidents have been relatively small. The driver in this accident spent only four months in jail as a result of his conduct. Because there have been so little consequences for such conduct, this particular bill had been introduced to the New Jersey legislature. If passed, it could mean that road rage would become "assault by auto" and may result in as much as five-years of imprisonment.

There have always been alternative ways to punish wrongdoers, however. Civil lawsuits against the offender can often punish them in the pocketbook and convince others that such conduct will not be tolerated. Civil lawsuits have the added benefit of at least partially compensating victims for their injuries and putting them in a better position to be looked after and cared for.

For Jessica Rogers and her family, it has been an everyday struggle. Hopefully, her story will make people think twice before becoming enraged while driving a motor vehicle.

Source: Newsworks, "N.J. moves to increase penalty for road rage," by Phil Gregory, Dec. 15, 2011

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