Martinez, M.D., Administrator, NHTSA
Dr. Martinez provided additional background information about who aggressive
drivers are, how big the problem is, and what is being done about it.
His remarks are summarized below:
- Who are aggressive
drivers? NHTSA survey results indicate that aggressive drivers
think of driving as an aggressive sport. They generally blame others
and do not see themselves as a problem. They think they are in control
when they are not, and admit to being impatient--e.g., they do not like
to let others pass.
- How big is
the problem? Dr. Martinez said that high-risk behavior is overrepresented
in violent and fatal crashes. Approximately 42,000 people die each year
in road deaths. Vehicle crashes are the "Number 1" cause of
death for young children, teens, and young adults, and the primary cause
of head and spinal injuries for everyone. These facts have been true
for a long time and reflect how huge this problem is for our society.
Dr. Martinez expressed his hope that the judicial and legal systems
will help secure gains in this area, as occurred for drunk driving.
- Baby boomers.
Baby boomers are flooding the roads, Dr. Martinez observed.
However, the level of traffic enforcement is not on the rise and is
actually going down.
- Known solutions.
Citing "good news," Dr. Martinez said there do exist known
solutions to combat the problems related to aggressive driving. It has
been shown, for example, that greater enforcement efforts lead to greater
compliance and more deterrence of unwanted driving behaviors. For example,
the cities of Modesto, California, and Albuquerque, New Mexico, saw
substantial declines in fatal crashes and in criminal arrests as a result
of enforcement programs targeting aggressive drivers and high-risk behaviors
on the road. High-risk people engage in high-risk behavior, observed
Dr. Martinez, reminding participants that Timothy McVeigh was apprehended
after being stopped for a traffic violation.
- Where is
the accountability here? People assaulted with a weapon get
punished. Traffic deaths are not punished in accordance with the risk
taken and the lives endangered and destroyed thereby.
- Action steps
to effect change. Dr. Martinez suggested the following actions
to go toward finding solutions to the problem of aggressive driving:
(1) providing national leadership to raise the issue to a higher level,
(2) putting a human face on the issue, (3) giving people the tools they
need to take responsibility through development of anti-aggressive driving
techniques and strategies and commitment of resources to translate dollars
into effective programs.
concluded his remarks by expressing his appreciation for participants
of such high caliber willing to give of their time and insights to work
toward finding practical solutions to the serious problem of aggressive
Kenneth Wykle, Administrator, FHWA
Mr. Wykle's remarks, summarized below, focused on the work being done
at DOT and its component agencies to address the manifold road problems
that can contribute to aggressive and unsafe driving.
- ONE DOT.
Mr. Wykle stressed the team effort occurring within DOT, with FHWA responsible
for working with the states in operating the Nation's highway infrastructure
and for informing the public about highway safety.
- The congestion
problem. Mr. Wykle cited congestion on the roadways as a big
contributor to driver frustration and a trigger to aggressive driving
behaviors. He called for continued exploration and application of advanced
technologies to effect solutions to this problem. We cannot build our
way out of the problem, he asserted, or enforce our way out. The numbers
of law enforcement officers can never be increased enough. Instead,
advanced technology must be integrated with enforcement into any proposed
technology programs. Some examples of new technology applications
currently in use have shown positive results. These include the Red
Light Running (RLR) campaign, which combines technology and public safety
awareness. Good preliminary results have been seen at trial sites, with
a decrease in the number of crashes (45 percent in some cases), despite
the opposite national trend. There has also been a 12-percent increase
in public awareness at trial sites through education and enforcement,
with many communities continuing and expanding these campaigns on their
own. Communities are asking for this technology, and the program, currently
in its second phase, has grown from 30 to 200 sites. The RLR campaign
is a successful example of a community program achieving good results
and attracting the participation of additional partners. It is also
known that RLR camera technology is not only effective, but is readily
accepted by the public. A report on the first phase of the campaign
to combat RLR in 30 communities will soon be available.
Mr. Wykle spoke of a new coalition called NOTIS National Organization
for Traffic Intersection Safety formed to support legislation allowing
use of camera technology at intersections. NOTIS members include law
enforcement, safety advocates, insurance companies, camera system manufacturers,
Daimler-Chrysler, the American Trauma Society, and DOT.
program. FHWA continues to refine the Maryland State Police
Capitol Beltway aggressive driving enforcement project, which targets
speeding and other aggressive driving actions by identifying and documenting
- DOT funds
available. Money is available from FHWA to fund aggressive driving
solutions. Federal-aid funds can help states "engineer" improvements
to intersections as well as install advanced technologies to assist
enforcement efforts. Federal funds are also available for PI&E and
enforcement activities. Two new TEA (Transportation Efficiency Act)-21
incentive grants are worth $500 million each over the life of the reauthorization.
In addition, Surface Transportation Project, National Highway Systems,
and Interstate Maintenance funds, among others, can help fund intelligent
transportation system projects.
efforts needed. DOT is eager to continue working with communities
in promoting emerging and advanced technologies to support and further
the efforts of law enforcement to curb aggressive driving behavior.
Mr. Wykle said he and others at FHWA and DOT look forward to hearing
participants' recommendations and proposed solutions to this problem,
and are willing to work cooperatively in this effort.