On August 28, 2018 the Mahwah, NJ Police Department disclosed that earlier this month on Route 17 North a truck carrying candy overturned as the result of a road rage incident. The tractor trailer flipped on its side after the driver of an SUV cut in front of the truck to slow it down because he thought the truck was being operated recklessly.
As reported in the Bergen Record, which includes video of the crash captured on a dash cam of a driver behind the accident, the police posted news of this event in advance of the Labor Day holiday weekend to warn drivers of the hazards of overly aggressive driving. Fortunately, neither driver was seriously injured in the accident.
The driver of the truck alleged that the driver of the SUV hit his brakes while changing lanes causing him to lose control of the tractor trailer. Both drivers were issued traffic tickets for failure to signal, failure to maintain lane and careless driving. The driver of the SUV also was written up for delaying traffic.
Read more: Rollover Accidents
Police warn that they have seen a dramatic increase in road rage related accidents that have resulted in deaths and serious injuries across the United States.
In New Jersey, the careless driving statute NJSA 39:4-97 states that “a person who drives a vehicle carelessly, or without due caution and circumspection, in a manner so as to eng=danger, or be likely to endanger, a person or property, shall be guilty of careless driving.” While the New Jersey reckless driving statute requires intentionally acting in a manner that endangers a person or property, careless driving is unintentionally doing so. Therefore, the penalties are less for careless driving.
If a person pleads guilty or is found guilty of careless driving after a trial, they will be fined $85.00 for a first offense. The fine increases to $140.00 if the violation happened in a safe corridor, a construction zone or in a 65 mile per hour zone. In addition 2 points will be placed on your license. As a result of the points your annual auto insurance premium is subject to increasing.
Under the New Jersey road rage statute also known a s”Jessica’s Law,” if the road rage results in serious inury, the driver can be charged with a 3rd degree criminal offense. In NJ 3rd degree offenses expose the offender to 3-5 years in state prison and a monetary fine up to $15,000.00.
If the road rage results in less serious injuries, the offender can be charged with a 4th degree criminal offense that carries with it up to eighteen months in state prison and a $10,000.00 monetary fine.
The statute defines road rage as driving that involves tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, and unexpectedly speeding up.
As the long holiday weekend approaches, New Jersey police will be on patrol looking for overly aggressive driving. In order to avoid the serious consequences of doing so, drivers are warned to drive safely.
Anyone who observes overly aggressive driving are urged to call 911 to report same.