U. S. Department of Transportation
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

NHTSA People Saving People
DOT HS 808 705

April 1998





Detailed Findings

General Discussion

Specific Issues




List of Tables
1 Composition of Beltway Driver Groups
2 How Participants Use the Beltway
3 Perceived Causes of Beltway Crashes
4 Perceived Causes of Beltway Crashes - Commercial Drivers
5 Responses to Aggressiveness Screening Questions

List of Figures
1 Questionnaire Responses - General vs. Aggressive Drivers


This report covers the third in a series of focus groups conducted by Preusser Research Group (PRG) to assess Beltway drivers' perceptions of safety on the Capital Beltway. The first was conducted in August, 1994, to provide the Capital Beltway Safety Team with information to guide their priorities about recommendations contained in the Washington Area Highway Safety Initiative of November, 1993. The second wave, conducted in June, 1995, was more limited in scope. Its purpose was to obtain Beltway driver feedback to two public service announcements about unsafe driving behavior (specifically behaviors associated with "aggressive driving") and safety reminders being considered for variable message boards around the Beltway.

The primary purpose of the present project was to reassess Beltway drivers' perceptions of problems they experience on the Beltway and to document their reactions to recent improvements. These include engineering changes, law enforcement efforts, and public information and education programs. A second objective was to assess motorists awareness of the "Smooth Operator" program. "Smooth Operator" was a coordinated law enforcement effort conducted around the Washington, D.C. area to reduce unsafe driving incidences. A third objective was to explore the topic of aggressive driving, which had been receiving media coverage in recent months. The information will be used to assist the Capital Beltway Safety Team in formulating new plans.