National Aggressive Driving Action Guide: A Criminial Justice Approach Graphic


Aggressive driving has become a serious problem on our Nation's roadways. What is aggressive driving? Most of us know it when we see it, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), after discussions with law enforcement and the judiciary, defines aggressive driving as occurring when "an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property."

Examples of aggressive driving include speeding or driving too fast for conditions, constant lane changing, and improper passing.1 The problem of aggressive driving affects us all and poses a serious safety risk to anyone on the road. That is why the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) joined with law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, judges, and civic and other organizations nationwide to look for ways to address this issue. One product of this effort is this National Aggressive Driving Action Guide (Action Guide).

This Action Guide is the result of a series of meetings among distinguished criminal justice professionals - law enforcement leaders, prosecutors, judges, and a representative from the defense bar - and NHTSA staff, who comprised an Aggressive Driving Implementation Team (Implementation Team). This team was formed to develop strategies based on recommendations by participants attending the 1999 DOT Aggressive Driving and the Law: A Symposium2 (see the website,, for an executive summary). Symposium participants from the public safety, legal, adjudication, and community sectors identified six topic areas that they believed would be useful for categorizing aggressive driving countermeasures. The six areas were (I) Statutory Strategies, (II) Enforcement Strategies, (III) Applied Technology, (IV) Charging Decisions, (V) Sentencing Strategies, and (VI) Community Leadership. The Implementation Team used these categories to frame this guide, which provides recommendations to the States for mitigating the problem of aggressive driving. Potential users include State and local officials, legislative bodies, criminal justice practitioners, highway safety advocates, related organizations, and the community at large. While these recommendations fall under six topic areas, their intended audiences and therefore the recommendations themselves often overlap.

The intent of the Implementation Team was to create a dynamic and easy-to-update planning guide for the States. Recognizing that the problem of aggressive driving does not lend itself to a "one size fits all" solution, the Implementation Team recommended strategies that States can customize to create potential "best solutions." For instance, "Statutory Strategies" includes a model reckless driving statute that States can modify for their own purposes.

The following Action Guide delineates recommended action strategies and is the culmination of more than 18 months of committed effort by the Implementation Team.

  1. Aggressive driving behavior should not be confused with road rage, which is generally considered an assault - a criminal and, though more highly profiled in the media, a much less common occurrence.
  2. Because the Implementation Team was formed to devise strategies for carrying out recommendations developed by symposium participants, it does not constitute a Federal Advisory Committee under the Federal Advisory Committee Act.

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