Corzine’s SUV Going 91 MPH Before Crash

Not only was New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine not wearing a seatbelt, but he was traveling 91 miles per hour in a 65 MPH zone and using emergency sirens. That strikes me as rather excessive in traveling to a celebrity meet-and-greet.

UPDATE: Radley Balko sees this as part of a growing trend.

When you live in the D.C. area, this kind of thing happens all the time (not the accident, the VIPs taking over the road), and just from personal observation, I’d say it’s happening more frequently. There seems to be an increasing feeling among many politicians that their meetings, their business, and their appointments are somehow more important than everyone else’s. Therefore, they can fly down highways, ignore red lights, and purge everyone else to the side of the roadway.

I don’t overly mind the security precautions used to protect governors and other very senior officials and even concede that official business occasionally warrants inconveniencing others. Radley’s right, though, that this privilege is often abused.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Joe Markley says:

    92 miles an hour on the Jersey Turnpike. Whose idea was that? Do you think Corzine was saying ‘Hey, slow down’?

    Or was he saying ‘I gotta make the Imus meeting — turn on the siren.’

    Corzine put his staff and escort and constituents at mortal risk so that he could get his mug on T.V. He might as well have been driving drunk, so far as recklessness goes. Enthroned in the power elite, he thought himself immune not merely from rules but consequences.

    If anyone deserved to get hurt, it was the governor. He should be thankful he was the only casualty. I hope he can find time in his busy schedule to consider his criminal behavior.

  2. Christopher says:

    Corzine is a typical liberal—he feels he is above the law. “Do what I say, not what I do”.

    I am thankful as well that he was the only one seriously injured and that no innocent bystanders were killed.

  3. Steven Plunk says:

    Liberal, conservative, it doesn’t matter, it’s power that corrupts even in the most minor of things.

  4. Christopher says:


    True conservatives don’t want political power, and when they are in political positions of authority they work for less government.

    The whole basis of liberal politics in this country is wielding power over its citizens, and making it legal to rob them for ever increasing amounts of money. In stark contrast, the basis for conservative politics is less government, and leaving people and the economy as alone as possible to let capitalism do what it does best—spread prosperity to as many people as possible. (and God knows we need more true conservatives in politics)

    Corzine should have left the whole matter ALONE and never got involved—how is what he was trying to do the governor’s job anyway?—much less driving at breakneck speed for a photo opportunity and to kiss Don Imus’ boots.

  5. DC Loser says:

    It was on the Garden State Parkway, not the Jersey Turnpike. 92 on the turnpike is just going with the flow of traffic.

  6. Joe Markley says:

    Think it’s a coincidence that the news came out in the middle of an enormous national story?

  7. markm says:

    To me, one thing that really looks bad about this is that the driver was a State Trooper and HE HAD HIS SEAT BELT ON. $5 says Corzine said “just shut up and drive” when the Trooper told him to put his belt on.

  8. Bandit says:

    91 mph in an SUV – all you little people cut down your fuel consumption though.

  9. Bithead says:

    Not only was New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine not wearing a seatbelt, but he was traveling 91 miles per hour in a 65 MPH zone and using emergency sirens.

    That’s more normal than you miight think. And that’s not a defense, that’s an accusation.

    That strikes me as rather excessive in traveling to a celebrity meet-and-greet.

    My immidiate snark would be that depends on how much weight you place on being seen with celebs… and how much weight you place on your image. Obviously, he put much stock in such things.

    But previouis experience councils that such considerations were not the issue. He’d have been doing 90 if they were running to the local IHOP. It’s a mindset thing, and something I saw for many years.

    As for the trouper having his belt on when Corzine did not, maybe. But consider, please, the buzzer woulda been a problem if the cop hadn’t been wearing his. No such buzzer for people in the back seat.

  10. markg8 says:

    The law states when a vehicle with emergency lights flashing approaches you have to pull over and stop. Not slow down or sort of kind of get out of the way, pull over and stop. This kind of accident is exactly why it’s written that way. Coasting along on the shoulder or in the right lane, waiting for the emergency vehicle to pass, rubbering necking to see who’s passing, not maintaining your interval or paying attention to other vehicles around you can lead to serious accidents. Should the governor have been wearing a seatbelt? Of course. Should his driver have been going slower? I have no idea what the governor’s schedule was before or after the Imus/Rutgers meetings. Maybe, maybe not. But nothing absolves the other drivers of following the law. They should have pulled over and stopped. If it’s your house burning or your kid in the ambulance on the way to the hospital you’d want those emergency vehicles to have the right of way.

  11. markg8 says:

    BTW Corzine’s SUV was traveling about 30 mph on impact with the guardrail.

  12. Bithead says:

    The law states when a vehicle with emergency lights flashing approaches you have to pull over and stop. Not slow down or sort of kind of get out of the way, pull over and stop.

    That depends first on STATE law, and is often contextual to the type of highway you’re on. In a freeway situation which this apparently was…(Parkway? Close enough) that reaction isn’t required in many states, NY being one of ’em. I can’t quote the law exactly, but the jist of it in that situation is, make a hole for the emergency vehicle, but don’t stop.

  13. Gollum says:

    Actually, Bithead, NY does require a stop:

    Vehicle & Traffic Law 1144: (a) Upon the immediate approach of an authorized emergency vehicle equipped with at least one lighted lamp exhibiting red light . . . and when audible signals are sounded from any said vehicle by siren, exhaust whistle, bell, air-horn or electronic equivalent; the driver of every other vehicle shall yield the right of way and shall immediately drive to a position parallel to, and as close as possible to the right-hand edge or curb of the roadway, or to either edge of a one-way roadway three or more lanes in width, clear of any intersection, and shall stop and remain in such position until the authorized emergency vehicle has passed, unless otherwise directed by a police officer.

    The exception for interstates is that you can pull to either side and stop, but a stop is clearly required. Practically speaking, of course, in most cases it’s difficult to bring your vehicle to a complete stop before the ambulance has passed – – unless you want to slam on the brakes.

    More importantly, however, and more relevant in Corzine’s case, is this:

    Vehicle & Traffic Law 1144: (b) This section shall not operate to relieve the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle from the duty to drive with reasonable care for all persons using the highway.

    I drove an ambulance as a volunteer EMT in New York for many a year, in both rural and suburban settings, carrying every manner of “emergency.” It’s difficult for me to imagine the circumstances under which 91 miles per hour in traffic would be considered “reasonable.”

  14. Bithead says:

    You do know you’re talking about two different state V&Ts, right? Which state are you quoting?

    Also, there is another section in NY which addresses the freeway situation. I’d suggest further research.

  15. Gollum says:

    Bithead: Of course I am. The first quote was to counter your assertion that New York doesn’t require a stop.

    The second quote was to point out (not in response to you) that, in New York at least, emergency vehicle operators don’t get to cast all caution aside just because they have a red light and siren going. Of course New York’s law doesn’t apply in Jersey. But I imagine New Jersey has a similar statute, or if not its caselaw will reflect a duty of care on the part of the emergency vehicle operator to others on the road.

    As to further research, no thanks. I killed enough time on this already. : )