Traffic Safety

Topics: Road safety, Driving, Law enforcement agency Pages: 11 (4740 words) Published: May 19, 2001
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines aggressive driving as "the operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger persons or property"—a traffic and not a criminal offense like road rage. Examples include speeding or driving too fast for conditions, improper lane changing, tailgating and improper passing. Approximately 6,800,000 crashes occur in the United States each year; a substantial number are estimated to be caused by aggressive driving. 1997 statistics compiled by NHTSA and the American Automobile Association show that almost 13,000 people have been injured or killed since 1990 in crashes caused by aggressive driving. According to a NHTSA survey, more than 60 percent of drivers consider unsafe driving by others, including speeding, a major personal threat to themselves and their families. About 30 percent of respondents said they felt their safety was threatened in the last month, while 67 percent felt this threat during the last year. Weaving, tailgating, distracted drivers, and unsafe lane changes were some of the unsafe behaviors identified. Aggressive drivers are more likely to drink and drive or drive unbelted. Aggressive driving can easily escalate into an incident of road rage. Motorists in all 50 states have killed or injured other motorists for seemingly trivial reasons. Motorists should keep their cool in traffic, be patient and courteous to other drivers, and correct unsafe driving habits that are likely to endanger, antagonize or provoke other motorists. More than half of those surveyed by NHTSA admitted to driving aggressively on occasion. Only 14 percent felt it was "extremely dangerous" to drive 10 miles per hour over the speed limit. 62 percent of those who frequently drive in an unsafe and illegal manner said police for traffic reasons had not stopped them in the past year. The majority of those in the NHTSA survey (52 percent) said it was "very important" to do something about speeding. Ninety-eight percent of respondents thought it "important" that something be done to reduce speeding and unsafe driving. Those surveyed ranked the following countermeasures, in order, as most likely to reduce aggressive and unsafe driving behaviors: (1) more police assigned to traffic control, (2) more frequent ticketing of traffic violations, (3) higher fines, and (4) increased insurance costs. Increased police enforcement was rated "Number 1," both for effectiveness and as a measure acceptable to the public to reduce unsafe and illegal driving. NHTSA research shows that compliance with, and support for, traffic laws can be increased through aggressive, targeted enforcement combined with a vigorous public information and education program. When Maryland launched its "Aggressive Driver Campaign" in 1995, with an emphasis on public information, education and enforcement, the media and the public praised the state police for their efforts. The public's perception was that the police were "out there to catch the other guy." Related fatalities have declined dramatically. According to State Farm Insurance, the number of drivers on the road is increasing. In 1990, an estimated 91 percent of people drove to work, and commuters in one-third of the largest cities spent well over 40 hours a year in traffic jams. The Traffic Law Enforcement Division anticipates and responds to the needs, and develops innovative products that law enforcement will seek and use to reduce traffic crashes, deaths, and injuries. Collaborating with law enforcement, prioritizing program delivery, marketing, expanding partnerships, and establishing new partnerships, technology, and research accomplish this. They now have a Pursuit Seminar for Law Enforcement Driver Trainers program. The focus of the seminar is to address legal and operational vehicular pursuit training issues that include identifying factors to consider when initiating, conducting and terminating a vehicular pursuit. The...
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