The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) and various municipal police departments are urging motorists across the state to avoid aggressive driving behaviors to keep the state’s roadways safe.
“Safety is a major focus at PennDOT, not just when we design our bridges and roadways, but also when we think about the drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians who use them,” said Brian McNulty, PennDOT District 1 Executive. “Aggressive driving is a preventable safety hazard, and we are proud to partner with area police to encourage a decrease in that behavior.”
In 2020, aggressive driving was a factor in 304 crashes in PennDOT’s District 1, which includes Crawford, Erie, Forest, Mercer, Venango, and Warren counties. This represents a five-year high for the northwest region, which has experienced an increase in aggressive driving-related crashes in each of the past two years with 290 in 2019 and 246 in 2018.
Corresponding with the overall increase in aggressive driving-related crashes has been an uptick in speeding. Following a low of 117 in 2018, the number of crashes with at least one driver’s action being speeding jumped to 171 in 2019 and 189 in 2020.
Since 2016, there have been 26 fatalities in District 1 resulting from aggressive driving, including three in 2020.
“Aggressive driving behaviors are contributing factors in crashes throughout the Commonwealth,” said PSP Troop E Community Services Officer Trooper Michelle McGee-Morrison. “This initiative aims to reduce the number of aggressive-driving related crashes, injuries and deaths and brings law enforcement agencies together to promote safer driving practices.”
PennDOT and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) classify aggressive crashes are those involving at least two aggressive driving factors in the same crash. Below is a list of factors that comprise aggressive driving:
- 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
- Sudden slowing/stopping
- Careless passing or lane change
- Passing in no passing zone
- Making improper entrance to highway
- Making improper exit from highway
- Driving too fast for conditions
- Driver fleeing police
During the current enforcement wave, police will be on the lookout for aggressive drivers with a special focus on tailgating motorists, drivers running red lights, pedestrian safety offenses, and heavy trucks.
“The main problem our drivers experience is cars passing them and pulling right back in front of them where they can’t even see their bumper,” said Klapec Trucking Company Vice President Greg Lander said. “That gives the truck no time to get stopped.”
PennDOT offers the following tips for those who encounter an aggressive driver:
- 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.
- 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.