Gov. Christie signs road rage bill into law
Published: Friday, April 20, 2012, 5:33 PM Updated: Friday, April 20, 2012, 5:33 PM
TRENTON — Seven years after the car she was riding in slammed into a telephone poll, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down, Jessica Rogers said she hopes her namesake law prevents future incidents of road rage.
The driver of the other car served four months in jail.
"I’m serving a life sentence," Rogers said today at a Statehouse news conference. "Four months is nothing."
Gov. Chris Christie said he signed Jessica’s Law to ensure incidents of road rage are prosecuted as third-degree crimes. The bill signing caps a week of events focused on human services, including his administration’s approach to autism, homelessness and jobs for the developmentally disabled.
As Christie put it, a driver’s license doesn’t give someone permission to "act out every one of your childish tantrums while behind the wheel of a speeding vehicle."
Rogers, who was 16 at the time, said that on the night of the accident a car cut off the vehicle she was riding in and then her car cut off a few more cars to catch up to the first one. She remembers the sound of rain falling outside the open car window. After that she said, her memory is blank.
She has since endured 24 surgeries and needs help dressing, showering and getting into bed.
"I’ll tell you as a dad," Christie said, "this story hits incredibly close to home. Every one of us has that fear that somehow this could happen to our child when they’re out on the road."
He said the law is especially important in New Jersey, with its dense population and heavily traveled roads. "Road rage happens against me when I’m driving around and I’m in two big black Suburbans with lights on them," he said.
The Legislature passed the bill unanimously last month.
Rogers was joined at the bill signing by six family members as well as state Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Middlesex) and Assemblyman Dan Benson (D-Hamilton), the primary sponsors of the legislation.
"I hope it’ll make people think before they act," Rogers said.