Pennsylvania State Police are joining forces with dozens of local police departments to crack down on aggressive driving in the Philadelphia area. The collaborative effort will begin in July and run through August 25th. Law enforcement officials will specifically be focusing on running red lights, enforcement of the Steer Clear law (a state law requiring drivers to move over or slow down when they encounter an emergency scene, traffic stop or disabled vehicle), tailgating, and heavy trucks.
This local effort is part of a statewide campaign that aims to reduce the number of crashes, injuries, and deaths on roadways, part of the Aggressive Driving Enforcement and Education Project, which launched in 2006. According to PennDOT, speeding and other aggressive driving behaviors are among the leading causes of highway crashes and fatalities in Pennsylvania. Speeding excessively, tailgating slower vehicles, racing to beat red lights, running stop signs, weaving in and out of traffic, passing illegally on the right, and failing to yield the right of way to oncoming vehicles are all recognized under the umbrella of aggressive driving.
The behaviors associated with aggressive driving pose a serious risk, to the driver, any passengers, and other motorists on the roadway. Additionally, behaviors associated with aggressive driving can often escalate to road rage. Road rage, which is considered a criminal offense, is often the result of aggressive driving behavior that escalates into an assault with a vehicle or other dangerous weapon.
Aggressive driving poses a serious threat, and not just to Pennsylvanians. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, road rage and aggressive driving behaviors happen all too frequently in the United States. The most common reported aggressive driving behavior is purposefully tailgating, with roughly 51% of drivers (104 million) engaging in the practice. Many drivers (47%, 95 million) also report yelling at another driver, and a similar amount (45%, 91 million) reported that they honk to show annoyance or anger. About a third of drivers (33%, 67 million) make angry gestures to others on the roadway.
Escalating behaviors don't occur as frequently but are still relatively present on American roadways. About a quarter of drivers (24%, 49 million) have, in the past year, reported trying to block another vehicle from changing lanes with their car; 12% (24 million) have cut off another vehicle on purpose.
The behaviors which most likely fall into the category of road rage are the most rare but are still reported by millions of American drivers. 4% (8 million) report that they have, in the past year, gotten out of their vehicle to confront another driver over; 3% (6 million) report bumping or ramming another vehicle on purpose.
If you encounter an aggressive driver, PENNDot recommends that you:
- Get out of their way and don't challenge them.
- Stay relaxed, avoid eye contact, and ignore rude gestures.
- Don't block the passing lane if you are driving slower than most of the traffic.