What is aggressive driving?
Aggressive driving occurs when an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses that endangers other people or property. Behaviors include a variety of dangerous driving maneuvers:
- Running red light and stop signs
- Improper passing
- Aggressive driving is equally divided between car, SUV and motorcycle owners. It plays a large part in crashes, injuries and fatalities.
- Between 2006–2010, an average of over 6,000 aggressive driving crashes has occurred annually on Maryland's roadways.
- Between 2006–2010, an average of 65 people lost their lives in aggressive driver-involved crashes, representing nearly 11% of all of Maryland's traffic fatalities.
- Between 2006–2010, over 4100 people, on average, were injured, representing more than 7% of all of Maryland's traffic injuries.
- Speed remains the most often cited violation in Aggressive Driving related crashes and the most cited offense ticketed by police in Maryland. Therefore, Speed Management remains a critical element in the State's Aggressive Driving Reduction program.
- Motorists in the Washington area rated aggressive driving as the number one threat to highway safety.
- About 44% of drivers are more concerned about tailgating, speeding, rage while driving, and reckless driving maneuvers more than any other danger.
- Nearly 8 out of 10 motorists say aggressive drivers are a greater danger than terrorists!
*Crash data source: State Highway Administration Safety Information Database
(From NHTSA, AAA, the Smooth Operator Program, and the State of Maryland.)
You are an Aggressive Driver if you ever:
- Drive too fast, over the posted speed limit
- Run red lights or stop signs
- Weave in and out of traffic
- Change lane frequently and abruptly without the use of signals
- Tailgate other vehicles
- Follow too closely
The fact is, most motorists drive this way at times. Anytime you become selfish, irritated, bold or pushy in your vehicle, you stop respecting the rights and safety of other drivers and pedestrians.
The Speed Factor
- Speed is a primary factor in aggressive driving behavior – and also a factor in nearly one-third of all fatal crashes.
- The probability of death and debilitating injury grows with impacts at higher speeds – doubling for every 10 mph over 50 mph that a vehicle travels.
- On average, 70% of motorists exceed the posted speed limits.
- According to NHTSA, in 2010, 10,395 lives were lost as a direct result of speeding.
(From NHTSA and the Federal Highway Administration)
Running Red Lights
- Running red lights and disobeying other traffic controls like stop signs are the most frequently reported types of crashes.
- Red light runners are more than three times as likely to have multiple speeding convictions on their driver record.
- Every year more than 900 people die and nearly 200,000 are injured in crashes involving red light running.
- Nearly half of the deaths are pedestrians and occupants in other vehicles who are hit by the red light runner.
(From the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
Some Causes of Aggressive Driving:
Aggressive driving is caused by driver frustration, impatience and anger, which lead to selfish, irritated, bold or pushy behavior in a vehicle. Sources of driver feelings are many:
- Roads and highways are ever more crowded.
- Drivers have very busy lives and too little time.
- Traffic tie-ups and roadwork is increasing and never-ending.
- Drivers may be stressed from work or pressures at home.
- Over the past 20 years, traffic on area roads has nearly doubled. Crowded roads encourage aggressive driving. Fender-benders, potholes, rain and sun glare compound the problem and can cause chain reactions.
A Contagious Problem
Impatience, hurrying, stress, and irritation at something totally unrelated to driving - these are all major factors leading to unsafe driving behavior. It endangers, infuriates, and antagonizes other drivers. When frustration and anger levels get high, concern for fellow motorists becomes low.
Aggressive driving is highly communicable. When you watch another driver's offensive manners on the road, or see them get away with outrageous violations of the law, it can ignite your temper and convince you that you, too, can drive with impunity. If you react to an aggressive driver, you become part of the problem. Unsafe behavior has a domino affect, passing from car-to-car down the road.
And when you drive aggressively with children in the vehicle, you teach them to drive like you do, even before they have a driver's license. Kids learn by example. They're always watching and learning.
The Smooth Operator Program
For many years, SHA has participated in the regional Smooth Operator Program, a public education campaign that provides education, information and solutions for the problem of aggressive driving. A consortium of law enforcement agencies, trauma experts, government officials and other professionals directs the public safety initiative. They partner through the Smooth Operator Program to stop and ticket aggressive drivers, and educate motorists on risks involved with aggressive driving and stigmatize aggressive driving behavior on our roads.
Smooth Operator uses a multi-pronged 4 E's approach:
- Enforcement – Stepped-up patrols and police activity.
- Education – Public education, relations and awareness campaigns.
- Evaluation – Constant research and evaluation of campaign activities.
- Engineering – Physical transportation and roadway solutions.
For more information about the Smooth Operator Program, please visit www.smoothoperatorprogram.com