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Put the Brakes on Aggressive Driving

It can happen in an instant. You’re driving along a pleasant stretch of parkway, calm and attentive, when a car suddenly zooms up behind you, filling your rear-view mirror and flashing its headlights in a bold show of impatience. Maybe you’re able to change lanes and allow your tormentor to speed angrily by. Maybe you’re forced to endure a blaring horn or obscene gesture. Either way, your attention is diverted and your mood is ruined. You’re a victim of aggressive driving.

In a recent survey sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 60 percent of U.S. drivers said they consider unsafe driving practices a major threat to their personal safety and that of their families. Their fears are warranted. Estimates indicate that drivers who tailgate, race down the road, run red lights and zip from lane to lane without warning contribute significantly to the more than six million crashes that occur in the United States each year.* And when the traffic offense of aggressive driving escalates into criminal road rage, the consequences are sometimes tragic.

Communities can and should take steps now to curb aggressive driving and restore safety and civility to our roadways. By supporting consistent enforcement of traffic laws, increasing fines and other penalties against offenders, and impressing upon drivers the importance of their own safe driving habits, community leaders can drive home the message that such dangerous behavior simply won’t be tolerated.

None of us can be complacent when it comes to protecting ourselves and our loved ones from the senseless acts of careless drivers. Let’s pool our municipal resources, back our law enforcement agencies, spread the word through social and work circles, and reclaim our public roadways.

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

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