National Aggressive Driving Action Guide: A Criminial Justice Approach Graphic

National Aggressive Driving Action Guide
Recommendations for the Six Areas

I. Statutory Strategies

Summary

Participants at the Aggressive Driving and the Law: A Symposium declared aggressive driving to be primarily a State issue, not a Federal one. The Implementation Team therefore developed a model that State legislatures and agencies can use to create or strengthen their own aggressive or reckless driving laws. Most existing reckless driving statutes are difficult to prosecute and carry only minor sanctions. Statutes should be amended to include appropriate punishment to communicate the gravity of the offense, especially when serious injury or death results. Also, State legislators must evaluate the new technologies being developed for recording dangerous and aggressive driving conduct for later use in prosecuting the driver. The model statute and other recommended strategies are listed below.

Intended Audience

State legislators.

Recommended Action

  1. Strengthen existing statutes to include stricter penalties. Repeat offenders should receive enhanced punishment, including increased points, loss of license, higher fines, and jail sentences or probation.
  2. Establish comprehensive education programs that address aggressive driving and include them as part of legislative changes. At a minimum, include aggressive driving education in public and private driver education programs. States should also consider anger management education as a supplement to other sanctions when making legislative changes.
  3. Develop statutes that match the severity of the offense to its punishment to send a clear message that aggressive driving is a serious offense.  
    1. Assess significant "points" on an offender's driving record for violations.
    2. Include suspension or revocation of driving privileges as part of any proposed statute, for they are effective deterrents.
  4. Address aggressive driving that results in death or serious injury as a felony. Add enhanced penalties to existing reckless driving laws and new statutes, defining "serious injury" according to State laws. Felony offenses require that one of the elements of the statute reference the required mental state of the driver (i.e., wanton or willful disregard for consequences) to meet constitutional muster.
  5. Provide State and Federal assistance to law enforcement agencies to help defray costs and provide support for retraining in new reckless driving (or aggressive driving) statutes.
    1. Provide enhanced training for identifying, recording, arresting, and prosecuting the aggressive driver. 
    2. Develop a workshop to encourage law enforcement to target moving hazardous violations, particularly those commonly associated with aggressive driving behavior, and to recruit trainers to deliver this workshop.
    3. Encourage use of Federal highway safety funds administered by the States for aggressive driving countermeasure training.
    4. Encourage statutes that permit in-court and out-of-court use of new technology in traffic-related cases.
    5. Use technology to gather evidence of aggressive or reckless driving, showing a clear violation of the appropriate statute. Obtain legislative authority for sharing this information nationwide, and evaluate technological improvements.
  6. Adopt the Model Statute developed by the Implementation Team to enact or improve States' reckless driving statutes, including aggressive driving under "Reckless Driving: Aggravated Reckless Driving."6 The model is as follows:
    1. A person who operates any motor vehicle with a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property commits the offense of reckless driving. "Willful or wanton" means the deliberate, conscious indifference to the safety of persons or property. Proof of evil or malicious intent is not an element of reckless driving.
    2. Upon the trial of any civil or criminal action or proceeding stemming from acts alleged to have been committed by any person operating a motor vehicle, proof that in the course of a continuous driving episode, such person committed three moving violations, either alone or in combination with one another, shall give rise to an inference that the vehicle was being operated with a willful and wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. Such inference shall not be conclusive, but shall be considered along with all other evidence in determining whether a violation occurred (see sidebar below).
    3. All persons convicted of reckless driving shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, except as provided under subsection (d), which follows.
    4. All persons convicted of committing a violation of subsection (a) above shall be guilty of aggravated reckless driving if the violation results in injury or permanent disability or disfigurement of another person. Aggravated reckless driving is a felony.

Proposed Judicial Instruction

If you find (beyond a reasonable doubt) that at the time the defendant drove the automobile in a continuous driving episode he/she committed three or more violations of the following statutes (insert names of violations) either alone or in combination with one another, you may infer that the defendant operated the vehicle with a willful and wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. You are never required to make this inference. It is for the jury to determine if the inference is to be drawn. You should consider all of the evidence in determining whether the defendant drove the motor vehicle with a willful and wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.

Note: Some States have a strongly divided opinion as to whether the predicative facts for the inference must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Other States may have a clearer line of decision. Therefore, it will be incumbent on the prosecutor, if relying on the inference, to identify the offenses to be used. These suggested instructions should be followed by "definitional" instructions for the predicate offenses. "Issue" instructions may not be necessary. The terms "definitional" and "issue" are used advisedly.


II. Enforcement Strategies

Summary

Better enforcement of aggressive driving violations is central to heightening awareness of the problem and changing people's behavior on the roads. Aggressive driving and enforcement of related laws should be a priority for all those involved, including law enforcement, prosecutors, the judiciary, elected officials, governing authorities, transportation officials, traffic safety organizations, technology developers, automobile manufacturers, vehicle makers, motorists, motorists0 associations, and educators. Citizen "tip" lines, multi-jurisdictional enforcement efforts, and partnerships with disciplines outside of law enforcement are other smart enforcement strategies that will greatly aid the anti-aggressive driving movement. Recommendations in this section also call for greater use of new technologies being developed to aid the enforcement effort. (While integral to the enforcement effort, technology-related recommendations are covered more thoroughly in the next section, "Applied Technology.")

Intended Audience

Law enforcement agencies, transportation officials, state highway safety representatives, traffic safety advocates, technology developers, automobile makers.

Recommended Actions

  1. Improve recognition of the aggressive driving problem among all people - from the general public to the judiciary to automakers - by encouraging public awareness, support for enforcement efforts, increased funding, development of improved technology, innovative enforcement practices, pertinent training, establishment of applicable laws, increased penalties for violators, better equipment, and development of long-term strategies.
  2. Explore innovative funding mechanisms for aggressive driving programs, equipment, and training. Funding should extend beyond law enforcement agencies to other government entities in the traffic safety arena. These grants should encourage multi-disciplinary approaches and provide for the eventual establishment of self-sustaining efforts.
  3. Expand the use of law enforcement observation platforms (i.e., aircraft, in-car video, and other equipment) that aid in apprehending and prosecuting traffic violators who would otherwise be difficult to convict. Devise methods of bringing information about the various observation platforms to the public to increase its support.
    1. Provide information about successful uses of the equipment to media outlets.
    2. Compile statistics from jurisdictions that have successfully used these options to demonstrate their benefits.
  4. Establish education and training programs to communicate the benefits of in-car video equipment to law enforcement agencies and to instruct law enforcement officers in using the equipment to its best advantage when presenting video evidence. Devise practical solutions and funding for maintaining the equipment and storing the evidence so that its use will continue.
  5. Increase use of automated enforcement technologies, such as red-light cameras and photo speed enforcement, to extend law enforcement capabilities and improve traffic safety. Explore the use of variable speed limit signs and strategies to encourage compliance. Promote expanded use and sharing among law enforcement agencies of these and other technologies (e.g., photo radar, distance measuring devices, unstaffed radar speed measuring and display devices, cameras for grade-level crossings) to improve traffic safety (see "Applied Technology," #1-4).
  6. Determine the feasibility of adopting laser speed-measuring equipment currently in use in Europe and Canada for measuring distance between vehicles. Determine the cost of implementing and using this equipment, including training and maintenance costs, and whether it meets the Nation's safety and scientific standards or would require additional studies. Investigate funding sources and determine responsibility, whether Federal, State, or local government (see "Applied Technology," #2).
  7. Increase the use of and consider means of funding computer technology in patrol cars to give officers access to driver's license histories and to a database listing of previous vehicle stops (see "Applied Technology," #7).
  8. Establish "tip" lines for citizens' use in reporting dangerous drivers, such as aggressive, unsafe, and impaired drivers, to a law enforcement agency (e.g., #77, 366-TIOS, *47, etc.).7
    1. Include information on safe cellular telephone usage in the "tip" line marketing materials, to lesson distraction on the part of drivers reporting these dangers.8 Published criteria for "tip" lines should contain a clear definition of the violations and/or conditions for using them, and address the need for a common set of terms and behaviors that the public, law enforcement, media, courts, and others interested in traffic safety will easily understand and accept.
    2. Encourage establishment of one standardized number for reporting dangerous drivers on roads and highways.
    3. Establish consistent procedures within law enforcement agencies for accepting and responding to these types of calls. These procedures could include:
      • Broadcasting a lookout to officers working in the area where the incident is taking place, or passing the information along to nearby jurisdictions through which the aggressive driver may be traveling.
      • Assigning an officer to meet or talk with the reporting party and, depending upon the seriousness of the incident, conducting a follow-up investigation to identify the suspect and levy charges.
      • Maintaining a record of the incident so that information is on file in case other people report the offender within a specified time period. Some agencies may want to have the information available should the reported offender be stopped in the future. Also, some agencies may maintain "hot sheets" on drivers who have repeatedly been reported for unsafe driving behaviors.
      • Identifying vehicles reported as engaging in dangerous behavior to the registered owner, if not the driver.
      • Allocating resources to handle these calls and subsequent agency response.
  9. Establish and publicize additional numbers or other contact sources so the public can report past events, ask questions, or seek follow-up action. Because many 911 systems are overburdened, agencies should consider establishing a separate number (e.g., #77, 311). Citizens also may be asked to report unsafe driving incidents through means other than phone, such as a letter, e-mail, websites, forms, etc. These alternatives would help prevent overload of the primary number.
    1. Elicit support from State and local officials for publicizing the number(s) that drivers can use to report violators to law enforcement personnel (consider signs along the roadway, State road maps, variable message boards, media market, informational brochures, driver training and retraining, etc.).
    2. Clearly identify the violations and/or other circumstances under which motorists should call the number(s) - to prevent misuse or overloading of resources.
  10. Participate in multi-jurisdictional enforcement efforts between agencies.9 Multi-agency, cooperative, and coordinated program efforts provide more efficient and effective enforcement, education, and awareness strategies. Raise awareness among the public by increasing media interest in aggressive driving and law enforcement efforts; sharing successful practices, policies, training, equipment, experiences, and data collection; and facilitating the sharing of regional markets for paid, earned, and donated media exposure.
  11. Partner with disciplines outside of law enforcement. Seek the participation of experts in traffic engineering, transportation safety, injury prevention, mental health, public information, and data and trend analysis and evaluation.
  12. Educate the public about situations that constitute and precipitate aggressive driving behavior and the differences between aggressive driving and road rage. This awareness approach may encourage voluntary changes in driving behaviors.
  13. Encourage transportation officials, law enforcement, traffic safety groups, injury (and illness) prevention practitioners, and mental health providers to work together to validate the causes and effects of aggressive driving behaviors. Once the causes and effects of aggressive driving behavior are determined, agencies will be able to better direct enforcement and educational efforts at reducing related problems. This effort should include providing information to the public, transportation officials, the judiciary, traffic safety organizations, law enforcement, business leaders, and others on the following points:

 

III. Applied Technology

Summary

Increasing the use of applied technologies, particularly those related to improving traffic safety and enforcement, can give a big boost to prosecutors and law enforcement officers in the field by helping to identify and prosecute aggressive driving offenders. The Implementation Team encourages expanded use of in-car video and photo red-light cameras, speed measuring devices, and other automated enforcement technologies to improve apprehension and prosecution of aggressive drivers. In addition, system-wide technologies for automated electronic reporting and linking of data among disciplines will facilitate better communication among law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges, and ensure more efficient processing of aggressive driving cases. Other recommended technologies, such as message boards on the roadside, require the support of State transportation officials and State and local law enforcement. Nearly all recommendations in this category have related training and funding requirements.

Intended Audience

State and local officials, state highway safety offices, criminal justice practitioners, highway safety advocacy groups, and private industry.

Recommended Actions

  1. Promote the wider use of in-car video, automated speed, and photo red-light enforcement cameras to record and document driving behaviors and personal driver behaviors. In-car video cameras provide additional evidence and enhance the ability to prosecute crimes.10 The use of cameras will reduce aggressive driving, promote public confidence, and improve officer safety.
    1. Encourage adoption of legislation that would allow the use of this technology and the issuance of violation notices (with protections for innocent persons), with fines rather than just warnings.
    2. Request supplemental funding by the Federal Government in the form of grants to States and localities to purchase these devices.
    3. Determine the best practice for using this technology for enforcement activities as well as for evidence in court.11
    4. Establish education and training programs for law enforcement agencies so they can appreciate the benefits of the equipment and determine its program and management value to the agency.
    5. Provide equipment usage and video guidelines and training to law enforcement agencies.
    6. Devise practical solutions for maintaining the equipment provided to law enforcement agencies, so that it will not be abandoned if a problem arises.
    7. Determine the costs for such equipment and investigate possible funding sources for it.
  2. Investigate the feasibility of adopting laser speed-measuring equipment with the new option of measuring distance between vehicles, a technology used in Europe and Canada. Before adding such options, however, agencies must ensure that the added feature does not jeopardize the reliability of the speed-measuring equipment as normally used.
    1. Determine which equipment is available for use in the United States. Discover from manufacturers whether the equipment can be of practical use on our roads and in our cities, giving particular consideration to the structure of our interstate and highway system and the volume of traffic.
    2. Elicit from manufacturers any special requirements or prerequisites that must be fulfilled before the equipment can be used (e.g., Does it only work on roadways made of certain materials? Does it only work in high traffic or low traffic?, etc.)
    3. Determine the cost of purchasing and using the equipment, including operator and maintenance costs.
    4. Determine funding sources and whether funding should be the responsibility of Federal, State, or local government.
    5. Investigate the reliability of the equipment, particularly whether it meets the Nation's safety and scientific standards, whether it must be periodically tested or examined, and whether studies have been done or can be done to determine its accuracy.
  3. Promote the wider use of unstaffed radar speed display devices. Local authorities should decide if the device is to be used for deterrent or warning purposes, or as an enforcement tool.
    1. Determine the reliability of such devices and their maintenance requirements.
    2. Create a media press kit to help raise public awareness of the devices and their intended use.
    3. Determine cost of the devices and methods for financing their use.
  4. Explore the use of variable speed limit signs and consider strategies to encourage compliance, such as educating the public about their purpose and importance.
  5. Establish data links (automated/electronic reporting) from traffic officers' reports and ticket-writing functions to prosecutors' offices, and otherwise facilitate better communications among professionals from different disciplines.
    1. Establish guidelines that prosecutors and law enforcement agencies can use to achieve shared automated reporting.
    2. Explore availability of software and technology for establishing a database between law enforcement agencies and prosecutors' offices.
    3. Determine funding sources to support all costs associated with automated reporting (e.g., grants, violator's fees, etc.).
    4. Establish criteria for cases to be subjected to automated reporting (e.g., whether only felonies, misdemeanors and felonies, serious traffic offenses, all investigations, etc.). This effort will help prevent clogging the system with reports outside the jurisdiction of prosecutors' offices.
    5. Determine computer equipment needs for all elements of the system to ensure that technology is available to make the process work (e.g., within law enforcement agencies, prosecutors' offices, pre- and/or post-trial components, licensing divisions, etc.).
    6. Establish guidelines to govern training and information exchanges between law enforcement agencies and prosecutors' offices, so they can take advantage of such technology.
    7. Investigate whether electronic reporting can benefit law enforcement agencies by meeting several needs simultaneously. For example, can officers use electronic reporting to file required reports with their departments, prosecutors' offices, and State agencies?
     
  6. Adopt crash reconstruction software.
    1. Encourage crash reconstructionists, law enforcement agencies, and prosecutors to access the National Traffic Law Center's website (http://www.ndaa-apri.org/apri/NTLC/Index.htm) for information to help them with specific cases or questions. The National Traffic Law Center's clearinghouse should include case law, legislation, research studies, and trial documents.
    2. Solicit assistance from nationally recognized experts in the field of crash reconstruction to create a database containing more substantive information on driving behaviors commonly associated with aggressive driving.
    3. Advocate for proper training before such material is used to help ensure positive results. Auto Cad and Auto Sketch are two software programs used in conjunction with the Total Station. The National Association of Accident Reconstruction publishes a quarterly journal that provides training dates for using crash reconstruction software.
     
  7. Increase the use of computer technology in patrol cars to give officers access to driver's license histories and to a database listing of previous vehicle stops.
    1. Obtain legislative authority for sharing this information nationwide.
    2. Obtain funding for this significant project, providing for establishment of a central database (such as National Crime Information Center) and/or the successful coordination of existing ones (on State and regional levels); staffing to maintain the database and handle increased workloads within participating agencies (law enforcement, judicial, and/or transportation); and procurement of technology and equipment (compatible nationwide) and any necessary training for system operators and users.
    3. Conduct public awareness activities to demonstrate the validity and necessity of collecting and sharing this information for public safety purposes. Such efforts may both deter habitual traffic offenders and reduce concerns related to intrusive Government ("big brother") perceptions.
  8. Use variable message signing to advise and communicate with the motoring public about traffic congestion, delays, crashes, and so on, providing detour and alternate route information. Message boards are an extremely important communications strategy, as traffic congestion and resulting delays are considered a primary cause of aggressive driving and road rage.12 Prompt implementation of these boards and timely updates of travel information are essential to create public confidence in their accuracy.
    1. Gain transportation officials' support for using these signs, including both permanently installed signs in areas where traffic congestion can be a problem, and temporary boards, which could be set up for major incidents (crashes, hazardous materials spills, etc.) or used for pre-planned events (construction projects, new traffic patterns, etc.).
    2. Obtain funding for more signs and greater usage of these signs, particularly along high-use roads.
    3. Increase staff to ensure messages are promptly displayed and updated.
    4. Gain approval to use these signs to reinforce positive driving behavior when they are not otherwise needed.
  9. Encourage communities to take advantage of computer-based distance learning and other alternatives, particularly in light of diminished school-based driver education programs.
    1. Promote efforts aimed at strengthening driver education by establishing criteria for schools to include in driver education or health and safety classes.
    2. Include computer-based distance learning as part of the curriculum in driver education and/or school health and safety classes, and as part of professional driving school curriculum certification programs.
    3. Coordinate with State agencies to include computer-based distance learning in the written portion of their driver examination.
     
  10. Promote Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) technology, particularly for its congestion relief benefits.
    1. Explore all technological options for mitigating traffic congestion, given the serious driving dangers it poses.
    2. Explore the effectiveness of promoting ITS in jurisdictions currently using ITS technology, and use these jurisdictions as models for a national program. Examine statistics in these jurisdictions to determine whether such ITS technologies helped to reduce traffic crashes and violations (see box for definition).

What is ITS?

Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) is a program of the U.S. Department of Transportation designed to foster the development of advanced technologies to improve the safety and efficiency of the transportation system on many levels. The application of ITS technologies inside vehicles and as part of the transportation infrastructure is intended to ameliorate congestion, enhance safety and energy performance, improve productivity, and mitigate the environmental impacts of operating transportation systems.

 

IV. Charging Decisions

Summary

A major recommendation in this category is to make aggressive driving a crime, chargeable as either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on conditions. Again, the call is to elicit the support and assistance of all involved parties, including State legislators, law enforcement personnel, prosecutors, the judiciary, traffic safety advocates, and others. Citizen activist groups should make their concern for increased aggressive driving enforcement and prosecution known to legislators and local criminal justice authorities. Criminal justice advocates should work toward making reckless/aggressive driving a crime, and State legislatures should enable legislation properly establishing it as such. As in other areas, the Implementation Team recommends organizing a public relations campaign to raise the profile of aggressive driving violations and to elevate the issue to become a higher priority among law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges.

Intended Audience

State legislatures, highway traffic safety advocates, prosecutors, judicial branch, law enforcement, clerks of courts, Department of Motor Vehicle executives, citizen activist organizations, State judicial educators, State prosecutor coordinators, State law enforcement academies, the National Judicial College, the National Conference of Special Court Judges, the American Judges Association, the National District Attorney Association, International Association of State Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training, International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Sheriffs’ Association, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, and the Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association.

Recommended Action

  1. Criminalize aggressive driving behavior through reckless driving statutes. Civil infraction offenses have little deterrent effect and should not be used for aggressive driving offenses.
    1. Develop a constitutionally sound model statute. Actively engage with States that are taking a proactive approach to aggressive driving. Use States with criminalized aggressive driving laws as models for States who have none.
    2. Compile reckless driving statutes of all 50 States, to assist in drafting model legislation.
    3. Use uniform traffic citations with uniform statewide statutory provisions.
    4. Rename the offense as reckless/aggressive driving and/or aggravated reckless driving.
    5. Seek the support and assistance of State legislators in enhancing statutes, and of highway traffic safety advocates, prosecutors, and law enforcement agencies, in supporting the legislation.
    6. Educate State legislatures on the seriousness of the aggressive driving problem and help them understand that a civil infraction with ticket payout has little deterrent effect on the driving behavior of the general public.
    7. Give the investigating officer a sufficiently broad number of charging options for use at his or her discretion.
  2. Develop written guidelines and training for prosecutors and law enforcement to use in making charging decisions. An aggressive driving offense should not be reducible to a lesser charge.
    1. Discourage pre-trial intervention and diversion programs and develop clear and succinct guidelines emphasizing that the seriousness of the offense requires intervention by a judge. "Payout" schemes, in addition to providing no deterrent effect, allow many serious driving offenders to escape judicial review and discretionary sanctions by the judge because of perfunctory handling.
    2. Ensure that law enforcement, prosecutors, and courts administer the reckless/aggressive driving offense in a fair and just manner, and in a way that creates a deterrent effect.
  3. Educate appropriate individuals in the criminal justice process as to proper charging decisions. Law enforcement should provide detailed information to all relevant entities within the criminal justice system. All offenses should be cited and prosecuted.
    1. Stress to law enforcement personnel that accurate information is a vital part of the criminal justice process.
    2. Recognize that the court requires detailed information to assign informed and appropriate sanctions.
  4. Accomplish heightened awareness of the aggressive driving issue through professional education of law enforcement, prosecution, and judges.
    1. Develop a model curriculum to be presented through State and national training academies to respective audiences.
    2. Uniformly train the trainers who will present the curriculum to their respective audiences.
    3. Develop public education processes that will deter aggressive driving behavior.
    4. Amplify within the curriculum the importance of not trivializing administration of reckless/aggressive driving offenses.
  5. Initiate a local public relations campaign to emphasize to the general population that traffic court is a forum of lawful authority that should not be viewed as a lesser court. Aggressive driving and impaired driving are serious violations.
  6. Elevate reckless/aggressive driving to a high priority among law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges. Prosecuting attorney staffs should have a designated traffic law specialist, and experienced prosecutors should rotate through traffic court assignment. Additionally, experienced traffic court prosecutors should handle or closely supervise serious driving offenders to ensure that offenders do not avoid stern consequences for their behavior.

 

V. Sentencing Strategies

Summary

Working hand in hand with Statutory Strategies and Charging Decisions, this section echoes several of the recommendations made in those topic areas, especially the importance of criminal sanctions for aggressive driving violations. The Implementation Team recommends providing judges and prosecutors with a range of sentencing options, including license suspension or revocation, probation, and payment of restitution. Civil penalties have proven to be ineffective deterrents and provide less flexibility and control to the sentencing authority. Aggressive driving defendants must receive due process, and legislation should accomplish sentencing objectives without being overly intrusive or costly to society.

Intended Audience

State judicial educators, State law enforcement academies, State prosecutor coordinators, State departments of motor vehicles, State Clerks of Court, State or local pre- and post-trial offices, the National Association of State Judicial Educators, the National Judicial College, the National Conference of Special Court Judges, the American Judges Association, the National District Attorneys Association, the International Association of State Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Sheriffs' Association, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, and the Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association.

Recommended Actions

  1. Enact a broad range of criminal sanctions that will provide greater flexibility and control to the sentencing authority.
  2. Strive to accomplish with aggressive driving sentencing as many of the traditionally accepted objectives of sentencing as possible, including deterrence (both individual and community), rehabilitation, education, punishment, restitution, and recouping of costs (both court and investigative).
  3. Accord defendants "due process" at the sentencing stage as an integral part of any sentencing strategy.14
  4. Provide for specific levels or degrees of severity in the penalty provisions of aggressive driving statutes, depending on the nature of the offenses and whether there were aggravating circumstances.
  5. Consider the following options when sentencing aggressive driving offenders:
    1. Supervision through an independent monitoring entity (e.g., probation department). Although this alternative is better than judge-supervised probation, probation costs less.
    2. Driver license suspension and/or revocation, with a probation condition that the defendant not operate a motor vehicle during the period of suspension or revocation.
    3. Driver license restriction, including restriction for essential driving purposes only, such as for driving to and from work.
    4. Imposition of fines, both mandatory and discretionary, including the option of making such fines payable through community service–for individuals unable to afford the fine imposed.
    5. Completion of court-approved driver improvement programs or courses.
    6. Completion of anger management programs that emphasize behavior modification.
    7. Vehicle impoundment for a specified time period.
    8. Vehicle forfeiture in aggravated cases, such as those involving personal injury.
    9. Imposition of incarceration penalties, including sentences that are deferred, withheld, or suspended, according to satisfactory completion of specified probation conditions.
    10. Payment of restitution to victim(s) of an aggressive driving incident that resulted in personal injury or property damage.
    11. Requirement that defendant write a letter of apology to any victim(s) or to law enforcement or to the public in general. This requirement can include sending the letters to local newspaper editors.
    12. Participation in drug, alcohol, or substance abuse programs where such a problem was appropriately diagnosed through a professional evaluation, and the act of aggressive driving was committed while under the influence.
    13. Requirement that defendants affix bumper stickers to their vehicles to alert law enforcement and the community at large of a prior aggressive driving conviction.
  6. Include in criminal sanction statutes administrative license suspension or revocation. Statutory provisions should provide for the immediate seizure of an offender's license when an aggressive driving citation has been issued in connection with a crash in which someone was injured or the offender was impaired.
  7. Make use of probationary status and strive to accomplish the two objectives delineated in the decision of People v. Mason 488 P. 2d 630, 632 (Cal. 1971). Probation should impose penalties, sanctions, and conditions related to the offense for which the defendant was convicted, and require or forbid conduct reasonably related to preventing the charged offense from recurring.
  8. Strive to accomplish through legislation the greatest number of sentencing objectives with the least intrusion and cost to society. The branches of government concerned with aggressive driving should collaborate in support of effective sentencing strategies.15
  9. Provide trials for aggressive driving offenders who fail to appear for trial after notice (in absentia trials).

 

VI. Community Leadership

Summary

Community support and partnerships are necessary to increase awareness of the risks of aggressive driving. Community outreach, whether through a "Safe Communities" program, a community policing effort, a church or school, or through organizations such as Kiwanis or Jaycees, can put a "human face" on the aggressive driving problem. Inviting victims to share their experiences as part of community outreach initiatives is a good way to change people's attitudes toward aggressive driving, for victims demonstrate the human consequences of traffic-related recklessness that causes injury and suffering. Soon-to-be drivers and commercial drivers are often overlooked constituencies in receiving the aggressive driving message. Developing partnerships within the community helps get the message out that aggressive driving is a safety threat to all citizens. Partnerships should include all levels of elected and other government officials as well as business leaders and community organizations. These alliances should be part of a comprehensive program to address the aggressive driving problem.

Intended Audience

Community leaders, law enforcement personnel, business leaders, government officials, Boards of Education.

Recommended Actions

  1. Include aggressive driving as part of established community programs. For example, "Safe Community" leaders can incorporate aggressive driving into their programs and law enforcement agencies involved in community policing can include aggressive driving and other safety topics in their outreach. Business leaders can post messages about the consequences of aggressive driving on bulletin boards, in employee newsletters, in storefront windows, and other highly visible locations. They can also partner with government officials to devise means of getting the message out, perhaps through organized community events.
  2. Use professional and government alliances to influence decisions surrounding aggressive driving. Generally, government officials are thought to be community leaders. They can lend support in their official capacities, through their professional organizations, and as private citizens. Community leaders can influence executive decisions to make enforcement, prosecution, and adjudication of aggressive drivers a priority. Law enforcement agencies have an excellent opportunity to interact with the community in their community policing outreach efforts. Government organizations, businesses, and community groups can demonstrate their support for the enforcement and adjudication of traffic laws and send this message through words and actions to the citizens and to the criminal justice community.
  3. Increase awareness of the aggressive driving problem through the actions of community leaders, law enforcement administrators, prosecutors, and judges. Not only can they educate their constituents about the aggressive driving problem, but they can influence their peers as well. Frequently, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judges are invited to make presentations at various civic group meetings. These presentations could focus on the risks of aggressive driving and what can be done to keep aggressive driving from occurring.

  1. The National Committee on Uniform Traffic Laws and Ordinances has also developed a "model" statute.
  2. The Cellular Telephone Industry of America (CTIA) does not support the use of any toll-free or singular cellular number other than 911 for reporting highway hazards or dangerous driving. This option may work in communities with established 911 systems, but many rural areas do not have local 911 systems. Some cellular carriers provide a distinct number for motorists to summon assistance, but these numbers vary across jurisdictions, and callers may incur a charge, especially when outside their local calling areas. States, in cooperation with the cellular carriers in their areas, decide how they want motorists to call and report these unsafe driving behaviors. At least 29 States have special numbers for reporting impaired, aggressive, or unsafe driving. Typically posted along roadways and advertised as part of awareness programs, many of these special numbers have been in operation for years and are well received and used. Because many 911 systems are overwhelmed by the large number of callers reporting driving behaviors, a way to divert these calls is generally preferred. This approach would not eliminate 911 as the universal emergency number, but would provide alternatives. The cellular industry should partner with law enforcement and traffic safety advocates to coordinate the designation of one toll-free cellular number that motorists nationwide can use to obtain help for hazardous conditions, dangerous drivers, and other emergencies. Absent this effort, it is recommended that all cellular carriers designate a specific number for this purpose.
  3. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that drivers always exercise caution when using cellular telephones (e.g., use hands-free devices if possible, have a passenger make the call, pull off the road to a safe location before placing the call, etc.).
  4. NHTSA, State, and experienced practitioners should provide technical assistance to jurisdictions interested in developing multi-agency approaches to aggressive driving. Agencies that need funds or materials are encouraged to coordinate with their State Highway Safety Office for assistance. Funds would help carry out strategic operations planning; public awareness campaigns; regional and cross-disciplinary training workshops; and acquisition of shared technology and equipment.
  5. All other suggested uses of cameras (besides in-car video) are of secondary importance.
  6. Although this technology is in use throughout the world, agencies should be sure they know the accuracy of the equipment and whether it is subject to manipulation. The agency should know equipment standards, have policies and procedures for equipment operation and maintenance, and have chain of evidence established for storing videos. The agency should also be prepared to assure the public that the equipment is accurate and free from manipulation, to instill confidence in its use.
  7. Coordination among law enforcement, transportation personnel (including those performing pre-planned or emergency roadway repairs), fire and rescue agencies, and those responsible for placing and revising information on these boards is crucial.
  8. Law enforcement agencies can include an identifier box on the uniform traffic citation to inform prosecutors that the charged offense was identified as an aggressive driving behavior.
  9. According defendants "due process" in criminal cases applies at all "critical stages" of criminal proceedings. The sentencing portion of a criminal proceeding is a critical stage and entitles a defendant to be represented by counsel. Gardner v. Fla. 430 U.S. 349, 358; 97 S.Ct.1197, 51 L.Ed. 2d 393, 402 (1977). Defendants who are indigent and face the possibility of incarceration have the right to court-appointed counsel at the critical stage of sentencing. "Due process" requirements in criminal sentencing proceedings necessarily cause them to be more protracted and more costly than the penalty stages in civil infraction cases.
  10. Legislative bodies must be willing to provide judges with sentencing discretion and with flexibility through probation to exercise it. Implementing effective sentencing strategies will depend on the willingness of judges to effectively and independently exercise their discretion in using the sanctions available to them, and on the willingness of legislatures to provide the judiciary with the necessary judicial personnel and facilities to carry outsentencing of aggressive driver cases.

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