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It’s Time to Put the Brakes on Aggressive Driving

It does not take long to find examples of aggressive driving on our roadways. Most of us see it everyday–the road racer, the tailgater, the frequent lane changer, and the red light runner. The atmosphere created by aggressive drivers is scary.

Approximately 6,335,000 crashes occur in the United States each year.* It is unknown exactly how many of those crashes are caused by aggressive driving. Estimates indicate the number to be substantial, based on the violations committed by the drivers of vehicles involved in crashes and reported by law enforcement agencies as the contributing factor of the crash. By focusing enforcement efforts and media attention on violations commonly associated with aggressive driving and encouraging voluntary compliance with traffic laws in general, the number of crashes and injuries each year can be reduced.

Roadway congestion is considered a factor that tends to exacerbate aggressive driving behaviors. As the number of licensed drivers and registered vehicles has increased, this congestion often causes drivers to become frustrated, which, unfortunately, leads to a more aggressive, high-risk driving style.

Aggressive drivers create an unsafe driving environment through their inconsiderate, self-centered driving habits. Drivers often commit multiple violations, including following too closely, changing lanes in an erratic or unsafe manner, signaling lane changes improperly, driving over the posted speed limit, and failing to obey traffic control devices. Because of these driving behaviors, hundreds of deaths, thousands of injuries and millions of dollars of property damage occur each year, and these behaviors contribute to the growing problems of hazardous traffic conditions and those criminal acts related to aggressive driving. To adequately address these unique issues, a concentrated and dedicated enforcement campaign is needed, and it must be coordinated with an intensive public awareness campaign.

In their aggressive state of mind, these drivers may not be thinking about the human beings who occupy the other vehicles around them, or that the drivers in the other vehicles could possibly be their friends, neighbors, co-workers, or family members. It is time that aggressive drivers start putting a face on the drivers in the vehicles next to them, and realize they are not alone on the roadway. The ones they hurt may be themselves or loved ones.

*National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Traffic Safety Facts 1998, U. S. Department of Transportation, October 1999.

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