Are you an aggressive driver? If you don’t know, a police officer may inform you today

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HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, Pennsylvania State Police and the Highway Safety Network are urging safe driving ahead of a statewide aggressive-driving coordinated enforcement day today, March 30.

“Safety on our roadways is everyone’s responsibility,” said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. “PennDOT often urges drivers to slow down, buckle up, and to never drive distracted or impaired, but staying calm and courteous while driving is just as important.”

In 2020, there were 5,615 aggressive-driving crashes, resulting in 91 fatalities and 401 suspected serious injuries. Preliminary 2021 data indicates fatalities in aggressive-driving crashes – crashes involving two or more aggressive driving factors – may have increased by as much as 40 percent.

“Troopers and local law enforcement will be conducting targeted enforcement with the goal of reducing the number of aggressive-driving crashes,” said PSP Colonel Robert Evanchick. “These crashes can be prevented by slowing down and limiting distractions behind the wheel.”

According to 2020 PSP data, Troopers issued more than 107,000 speeding citations, including more than 2,000 for driving 100 mph or faster. In 2021, those numbers saw an increase as speeding citations totaled more than 129,000. In addition, more than 2,200 tickets were issued for driving 100 mph or more.

Speeding is an aggressive driving factor and is usually defined as driving in excess of the posted speed limit or driving too fast for conditions. It can have dangerous consequences by reducing a motorist’s ability to react to changing traffic or road conditions, putting the driver, passengers, and others on the road at risk.

In 2020, there were 24,978 speeding-related crashes, resulting in 433 fatalities and 1,387 suspected serious injuries.

“With the return to the road and more normal work and school schedules, we are finding that many have forgotten safe-driving behaviors and may also experience higher levels of distraction and stress,” said PA Turnpike CEO Mark Compton. “Aggressive driving can be triggered by heavy traffic and drivers in a rush. This type of driving plays a major role in crashes and fatal collisions.”

The coordinated enforcement is part of an aggressive-driving enforcement wave running through April 24 focused on speeding, distracted driving, and work zone awareness. The goal of targeted enforcement is to reduce the number of aggressive driving related crashes, injuries, and deaths on roadways throughout the state. Motorists exhibiting other unsafe behaviors such as driving too fast for conditions, following too closely, or making careless lane changes will also be cited.

PSP, as well as more than 300 municipal agencies from across the state, will concentrate efforts on roadways that are known to have a high number of aggressive-driving crashes using traffic enforcement zones, saturation patrols, speed enforcement details, work zone enforcement, and multi-jurisdictional enforcement details to identify and cite aggressive drivers.

“Aggressive driving involves heightened feelings of stress, anger, or frustration that can lead to dangerous behaviors on our highways,” said Robert Schaeffer, executive director of the Highway Safety Network. “These behaviors can have devastating consequences. Drive patiently and be part of the solution, not the problem.”

Aggressive-driving factors include:

Making illegal u-turn;

Improper/careless turning;

Turning from wrong lane;

Proceeding w/o clearance after stop;

Running stop sign;

Running red light;

Failure to respond to other traffic control device;

Tailgating;

Sudden slowing/stopping;

Careless passing or lane change;

Passing in no passing zone;

Making improper entrance to highway;

Making improper exit from highway;

Speeding;

Driving too fast for conditions; and

Driver fleeing police.

If you encounter an aggressive driver, put your own safety first:

Get out of their way and stay as far away as possible.

Do not engage or challenge the driver in any way.

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.

Do not attempt to follow or pursue the vehicle.

You or a passenger may call the police. But, if you use a cell phone, pull over to a safe location. If you can, note the license plate and a description of the car.

While many people associate aggressive driving with road rage, they are two different behaviors. Road rage is a criminal offense and is often the result of aggressive driving behavior that escalates into an assault with a vehicle or other dangerous weapon.

The enforcement is part of Pennsylvania’s Highway Safety Program and is funded by part of PennDOT’s investment of federal funds from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

For more information on aggressive driving, visit PennDOT.pa.gov/Safety.

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