New Jersey laws cover road rage, vehicle fines

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Tuesday, August 18, 2015

New laws in New Jersey cover safety on roadways and ease the financial burden on some driving offenses.

The first new law is intended to teach the state’s youngest drivers about the dangers of road rage.

Gov. Chris Christie signed into law a bill to require driver education courses taught in public schools to include information on the dangers of aggressive driving.

“We know road rage is a real danger,” Assemblyman Daniel Benson, D-Middlesex/Mercer, said in prepared remarks. “We teach new drivers about all the many dangers they’ll face on the roadways, so it makes sense to emphasize the negative consequences of engaging in road rage.”

The rule is inspired by Jessica Rogers of Hamilton, N.J. At age 16, Rogers suffered severe injuries and was paralyzed from the neck down following a March 2005 wreck that resulted from an incident with another vehicle. The driver of the vehicle she was riding in hit a pole while trying to catch a car that cut him off. The driver spent four months in jail.

Previously S266, the new law requires the curriculum for approved classroom driver education courses and the informational brochure distributed by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission include information on the dangers of aggressive driving.

The law also specifies that driving a vehicle in an aggressive manner includes sudden changes in speed, erratic and improper lane changes, and following too closely.

The commission is also responsible for including the dangers of driving a vehicle aggressively as part of the written examination required to obtain an examination permit and basic driver’s license.

A separate new law offers payment plans for vehicle fines.

New Jersey law now gives the commission discretion to authorize payment plans for up to two years.

A222 requires the commission to permit drivers who owe vehicle surcharges to pay using a monthly installment plan. The new law also extends the time period that drivers can pay fines up to six years.

“What matters most is that the fines get paid, not how long it takes someone to pay,” stated Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, D-Mercer/Hunterdon.

One more bill halfway through the statehouse covers concerns about road safety for farmers and drivers in rural areas.

Changes would include requiring drivers to slow down to the speed of the slow-moving vehicle before passing on two-lane roads. Violators could face fines up to $500.

A separate provision would permit the commission to set the permitted distance for travel by registered farm vehicles at a distance of at least 50 miles.

Another provision would increase the threshold speed capacity to obtain a farmer registration from 20 mph to 35 mph.

The Assembly approved the bill by unanimous consent. A3927 awaits further consideration in the Senate Transportation Committee.

To view other legislative activities of interest for New Jersey, click here.

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