Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Long History as Road Menace

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Long History as Road Menace

Article excerpt

A Passaic man charged in the brutal road-rage attack Wednesday on an elderly driver in Garfield has had his driver's license suspended more than three dozen times and been cited for 22 traffic violations since 1994, according to motor vehicle records.

Robert DeJesus, 38, who is accused of beating a 75-year-old driver after cutting him off Wednesday, has been cited for violations ranging from driving under the influence to failure to wear a seat belt. He has been ticketed multiple times for speeding, careless driving and operating a motor vehicle with a suspended driver's license, state records show.

Some of DeJesus' license suspensions were administrative, imposed for actions such as failing to pay insurance surcharges, Motor Vehicle Commission spokeswoman Elyse Coffey said.

The attack follows recent high-profile road-rage incidents including the beating of a motorist in September after he ran over a biker in Manhattan. In June, a New Jersey police detective was charged with murder in a Maryland road rage incident.

Aggressive driving is the cause of about two-thirds of traffic fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which also notes that males under the age of 19 are the most likely to exhibit road rage.

Still, it's difficult to say whether aggressive driving is on the rise, said University of Hawaii psychology Professor Leon James, who has studied road rage incidents.

Most people, even in a tense situation such as almost being side- swiped by another car, will let it pass, James said. Some, though, already are prone to anger, and a provocation -- even an imagined one -- can drive them to violence.

"It's irrational thinking. ... This mental activity which becomes a habit makes it more difficult to judge correctly what is happening between drivers. There's a tendency to conclude, or even to fantasize, that someone has offended you or threatened you," said James.

Police say it is not yet clear what may have prompted Wednesday's attack. …

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