Aggressive Driving Crackdown Under Way in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania state troopers and municipal police departments are wrapping up the second phase of their 2017-2018 aggressive driving enforcement wave. During the four-week initial phase that began Oct. 23, 2017, police issued 6,336 speeding citations and 846 citations for failure to obey traffic signs or signals. They also arrested 210 drivers for various traffic offenses.

The spring phase of the campaign lasts six weeks and concludes April 29. Law enforcement chose to highlight four issues this spring:

Aggressive driving has been an enforcement priority since 2006 and is supported by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Transportation, community groups, and civic organizations. Regardless of enforcement efforts and public support, aggressive driving still causes numerous crashes every year.

Defining Aggressive Driving

Aggressive driving doesn’t necessarily mean driving while angry. It broadly encompasses behaviors that increase the risk of a crash, including:

  • Excessive speeding
  • Tailgating/following too closely
  • Racing to beat red lights
  • Failing to stop completely at stop signs
  • Passing illegally on the right
  • Failing to yield right of way to oncoming vehicles
  • Weaving in and out of traffic.

These behaviors may be more common during rush hour – drivers become impatient, or worry about being late to their destination and begin driving more aggressively. But if aggressive driving leads to a crash, drivers will lose a lot more time than they would lose by simply driving patiently.

The Dangers of Road Rage

Aggressive driving sometimes leads to incidents of road rage – violent and aggressive behavior directed at other drivers. In 2017, there were several incidents of road rage in Philadelphia in which one driver threatened another with a gun, and a road rage shooting in West Chester killed an 18-year-old woman – she was attempting to merge, and had the right of way, when the other driver shot her.

To avoid road rage, drivers must:

  • Control their emotions
  • Refrain from behaviors that could anger other drivers (such as cutting someone off in traffic or tailgating another driver)
  • Avoid motorists who seem to be driving dangerously.

Road rage often begins when one driver makes an assumption about another driver’s motives. For example, a driver might assume that another driver cut them off in traffic deliberately, when it’s possible that the offense was accidental. Drivers can maintain more emotional control when they give other drivers the benefit of the doubt.

The Pennsylvania Traffic Safety Enforcement Resource Center advises motorists who encounter an aggressive driver to stop at a safe location and call 911, providing as much information as possible (such as license plate number, a description of the vehicle, direction of travel, and the driving behavior observed). Making that call could save lives.