New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed into law this week a new provision meant to curb instances of aggressive driving by providing for jail time for the aggressor any time that aggression leads to an injury. At the signing Christie told reporters: “It does not permit you to act out every one of your childish tantrums while behind the wheel of a vehicle.”
The new law states that “aggressive driving” now also encompasses motor vehicle offenses usually classified under reckless and careless driving laws, including driving more than 25 mph over the speed limit, failing to yield and following too closely. Also included in the new aggressive driving law are verbal threats, flashing headlights and insulting gestures “designed to display anger or to intimidate or threaten” a person driving lawfully.
Aggressive driving behaviors are not limited to New Jersey, however. According to a 2009 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, more than half of all vehicle crashes in the United States are caused by aggressive driving. New Jersey just became the 15th state to directly address the risks inherent with aggressive driving and define what is and is not aggressive driving. Pennsylvania already has an Aggressive Driving Enforcement and Education Program, and regularly conducts patrols aimed at finding and citing aggressive drivers.
By passing a law which well defines aggressive driving, New Jersey is taking a stance firmly on the side of defensive drivers, and sending a message loud and clear than anything less simply will not be tolerated.