Aggressive Driving Enforcement
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Review Existing Legislation

Each state needs to determine whether it is necessary to pass an "aggressive driving" statute. States need to look at their existing laws to determine whether its laws can appropriately deter and punish serious violators of traffic laws. Multiple traffic law violations increase crash risk. Law enforcement should reflect the seriousness of that increased risk by convicting the aggressive driver of every violation committed.

While states may need additional aggressive driving laws, an option may be to review the current statutory framework such as the reckless driving statute to see if an amendment may adequately address the problem of careless or negligent driving.

In many states, changes in the point system can be accomplished administratively; in others technical statutory changes may be needed. But in all states the need is for rigorous enforcement of every law violated by aggressive drivers, not major new laws on aggressive driving.

This process should be addressed by each state on an individualized basis. States might consider the following points when reviewing related statutes and practices:

  • Conviction for an aggressive driving violation should involve a significant number of points and/or a minimum license suspension.
  • Enhanced penalties should accompany repeat violations or those involving serious injury or death.
  • Use of advanced technology for enforcement.
  • Conduct public information and driver’s education programs on aggressive driving, to be taken during pre-license driver education classes and again prior to license reinstatement. Initial driver training programs should include aggressive driving and anger management training.

Several other legislative issues may need to be addressed. For example:

  • If a state chooses to use unmarked vehicles, legislation may be required to permit the use of these vehicles.
  • States may have to look at their "team policing laws" that permit air to ground traffic enforcement. Determine if it is allowable for one law enforcement officer to witness the driving violation and call to another law enforcement officer to stop and cite the violator.
  • A law may be required for the installation of red light running equipment and to permit the officer to write citations based on a photograph. As of September 1999, thirteen states had laws in place authorizing the use of cameras to ticket red light running, speeding or illegal railroad crossing. Twenty state legislatures are considering this new technology. In the NHTSA survey of 6,000 drivers over the age of sixteen, more than 70 percent of the respondents supported the use of photo enforcement devices to reduce speeding, running red lights and stop signs.

Law enforcement agencies need to review what other states have done. The National Conference for State Legislatures has a database that follows traffic safety bills, including aggressive driving, through state legislatures. The bills are listed by state, identifying number, sponsor, and a brief description of the content. The database is also available on the web at: www.nhtsa.dot.gov/ncsl/guestissue.cfm.

In addition, the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Laws and Ordinances (NCUTLO) is investigating the need for model legislation on aggressive driving. NCUTLO can be contacted at: National Committee on Uniform Traffic Laws and Ordinances, 107 S. West Street, #110, Alexandria, Virginia, 22314 or by E-mail at: ncutloceo@rica.net