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Friday, April 27, 2007

NJ Governor Not Buckling Up Causes Furor

New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine Remains in Intensive Care After Sustaining Serious Injuries In a Car Crash While Neglecting to Wear His Seat Belt

In 2006, New Jersey policemen handed out 271,182 summonses to people for not wearing a seat belt. In 2007, one seat-belt violator stands out from the crowd: Gov. Jon S. Corzine, who recently was critically injured in an automobile accident.

The spokesman for state Attorney General Stuart Rabner wouldn't say why state police assigned to protect Corzine didn't insist he obey the seat belt law.

"As always, we urge all drivers and passengers to wear seat belts," said David Wald.

The Governor, 60, broke multiple bones in the crash and two weeks later, remains hospitalized in intensive care, in critical but stable condition, breathing with the help of a respirator.

Another issue surrounding the Governor's crash is that Corzine's SUV was going 91 mph in a 65 mph zone when it crashed, said state police.

Many cannot believe Corzine didn't follow his state's law and buckle up.

"With all due respect to the governor and with complete compassion in mind for the injuries he sustained, he has set a poor example," said AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman David Weinstein.

Tricia Tim said she was disappointed in Corzine's actions. "He's a governor," said the 35-year-old medical assistant. "He should have been showing us an example. I wear my seat belt all the time."

In fact, Corzine has been a proponent of seat belt use. In 2001, as a U.S. senator, Corzine proposed that the federal government instruct states to pass laws requiring children under age 16 wear seat belts.

Drivers and front seat passengers in New Jersey face a $46 fine for not wearing their seat belts.

Corzine's driver, State Trooper Robert Rasinski, was wearing a seat belt and sustained only minor injuries in the crash. Corzine aide Samantha Gordon was riding in the back seat without a seat belt and also sustained only minor injuries.

According to the accident report, Corzine was "thrown within the vehicle during the impact."

New Jersey has one of the highest seat belt usage rates in the nation, at 90 percent in 2006. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the national average is 81 percent.

There are some who hope that Corzine, once he recovers from injuries that include a broken leg, ribs, collarbone and sternum, can use his accident to send a message about the importance of wearing seat belts.

"He could be the poster child to make people listen, to show that traffic crashes and the injuries you get in them if you're not wearing your seat belt can hit anyone," Weinstein said.

Learn the rules of the road for New Jersey and become a safer driver today with online DMV Practice Tests at

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