Ticketing Aggressive Cars and Trucks in Washington State


The project components consisted of enforcement interventions supported by an innovative road sign, paid and earned media, and a detailed evaluation. The interventions are described in this section. The design and results of the evaluation are covered in the next section.


Two waves of enforcement each lasting two weeks (July 11-22 and September 19‑30, 2005) took place at the intervention sites. Increased enforcement was deployed Monday through Friday, from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Crash data had shown that most CMV/PV collisions occurred weekdays during the morning commute and lunch hours. State and local law enforcement officers rode in the CMVs, equipped with mobile radios to document the violations they observed around trucks. WSP aviation supported the enforcement, and marked and unmarked patrol vehicles made the traffic stops.

The local law enforcement agencies that had jurisdiction on the stretches of I-5 in the intervention corridors were encouraged to participate in the TACT pilot project alongside the WSP. The Whatcom and Skagit County Sheriffs’ Offices and the Bellingham Police Department participated in the project in the Bellingham intervention corridor and the Lakewood and Lacey Police Departments worked with WSP in the Olympia intervention corridor. Prior to the enforcement waves, a WSP trooper met with representatives of each participating local agency to discuss techniques of working on the freeways and to provide consistency in reporting violations. Initially, only the WSP troopers were to ride in the CMVs, but by the end of the second enforcement wave, local law enforcement also served in that capacity.

Prior to the enforcement waves, the project director discussed the project with the court clerks whose offices would likely see an increased volume of tickets due to the TACT pilot project. The clerks were provided with written details about the project. The judges from the affected courts expressed their preference that tickets written during the project not be identified in any special way.

The trucking industry provided CMVs to the law enforcement officers to traverse their corridors during enforcement times. For logistical reasons, two CMVs were used in the Olympia intervention corridor during both enforcement waves. The WSP provided an aviation unit to observe unsafe driving actions from the air, and both local and State law enforcement agencies provided marked and unmarked patrol vehicles to make the actual traffic stops.

WSP has an unmarked vehicle unit that it uses for aggressive driving enforcement. This unit is called the aggressive driving apprehension team (ADAT). Members of the ADAT took part in the TACT pilot project. In addition, local law enforcement agencies that had access to unmarked vehicles successfully used those vehicles in the project. These unmarked vehicles were driven by uniformed law enforcement officers and operated independently of the troopers in the trucks. Law enforcement officers in unmarked vehicles were able to observe and cite drivers of both passenger vehicles and commercial vehicles who were driving aggressively in the intervention corridors. They also responded to violations observed by the officers riding in the trucks or to aviation troopers, if not otherwise engaged.

The WSP Aviation Unit was used in the intervention corridors to locate aggressively driven vehicles. The trooper observing the violations from the air radioed to the ground troopers and officers waiting in their patrol cars in the intervention corridors. Use of WSP Aviation was dependant upon weather and visibility and upon prior commitments for the use of the aircraft. Participating law enforcement rated aircraft use as the single most effective enforcement tool during the project.

Citation Data

A total of 4,737 contacts with drivers were made during the two enforcement waves. On average there were 237 contacts per day over the twenty days of TACT enforcement. The vast majority of contacts resulted in a citation being issued (72%) while 28 percent resulted in warnings. Also, the majority of contacts were with PV drivers, 86 percent; 14 percent were with CMV drivers. Most drivers were male, 73 percent, and the average age was 51.6 years old.

Most of the drivers contacted were residents of western Washington (28% lived in the vicinity of intervention corridor #1, 21% in intervention corridor #2, and 22% lived in other western Washington communities). Very few drivers were from eastern Washington (less than 1%), while many were from Canada (13%) and other States (15%). The numbers of driver contacts were roughly equally distributed across days of the week. The most productive times of the day were during the morning commute hours (between 7a.m. and 8 a.m., 17%). (See Appendix B for summary of citation data.)