Thursday, April 19, 2007

Safety First (UPDATED)

As much of the nation knows - but has more than likely forgotten due to the Virginia Tech tragedy - Jon Corzine does not believe in seatbelts. Yes, it stinks that he got hurt and it's too bad that it happened, but the most important thing is that it could have been prevented on more than one front. First, and most importantly, is the seat belt issue. New Jersey law "Applies to all passengers, who are at least 8 years of age but less than 18 years of age, and each driver and front seat passenger of a passenger automobile, operated on a street or highway. All occupants are required to wear a properly adjusted and fastened seat belt system." For clarification, Corzine was a front seat passenger of a passenger automobile at the time of the accident. Corzine, who remains in critical condition today at Cooper University Hospital, was not wearing a seat belt when the accident occurred. This, of course, is highly dangerous and risky and the governor has been labeled as "lucky to be alive" by one of his doctors. When all the factors of the accident are taken into account - namely the lack of a seat belt and the high speed of the rollover prone SUV - Corzine is, in fact, very lucky to have survived such a crash. But it's not like Corzine forgot just this once, in fact it turns out that his staff has tried to persuade him to wear a seat belt before giving up when the governor adamantly refused. While the governor maintains that laws in his state should be upheld, I guess you don't really have to if you don't want to.

What is even more disturbing than Corzine's disregard for a law that has proven to save lives (i.e. the two people in the car who actually wore one), is the attempted cover-up by the New Jersey State Police. While at first Corzine's SUV was "forced off the road" by an "erratic driver," it has recently come to the public's attention that the driver who swerved and "caused" the accident was actually trying to get out of the way of the SUV that was travelling a cool 91 miles per hour in a 65 mile per hour zone. Must have been quite the emergency, especially since the SUV had it's emergency lights on. So where was the governor headed? Home, to his governor's mansion in Princeton, to host a meeting between Don Imus and the Rutgers women's basketball team (not really seeing the Corzine connection in the Imus debacle, but apparently it was important). As can be expected, Corzine will not be ticketed and his driver Robert Rasinski will not see any type of repercussions for his Nascar-esque driving style. Maybe he should, considering it is his fourth accident overall and his second on duty. Now the citizens of New Jersey have paid for Corzine's SUV, his medical care, and the brief, precautionary medical care of his staff due to continued irresponsible driving, bullheadedness in not wearing a seat belt, and unnecessary use of emergency lights. Mayor Bloomberg has called Corzine's use of high speeds and emergency lights to get to a photo-op "inappropriate" and it's hard to argue against that. So in the future let's have state troopers sans preventable accidents on their records driving the governor around the state in a reasonable, non-emergency manner (unless it is a real emergency, not the governor being late to something) and have the governor wear his seat belt, but more than likely he will need little convincing after this harrowing experience. Peace.

UPDATE 6/21/07: According to 1010WINS, the New Jersey Star-Ledger has reported that a committee investigating the accident that nearly killed Governor Corzine has concluded that Trooper Robert Rasinski, the man behind the wheel at the time of the accident, was at fault and could have avoided the incident altogether. There will be a press conference later this afternoon discussing what, if anything, will be done about the debacle and if Rasinski will face any disciplinary action from the New Jersey State Police.

Photos from top to bottom - New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine (, Corzine's SUV after the accident (

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