My post yesterday about distracted driving got me to thinking about other types of driving behaviors that often result in injuries and deaths. This led me to think about aggressive driving, versions of which I see every day on Atlanta's roadways. And many of my clients have come to my firm after being injured in collisions involving aggressive driving.
What are the most common forms of aggressive driving?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines aggressive driving as occurring when "an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property." A 2009 study by the American Automobile Association found that aggressive driving played a role in 56% of fatal crashes from 2003 through 2007, with speeding being the number one factor.
Other forms of aggressive driving include:
- Following improperly
- Improper or erratic lane changing
- Illegal driving on road shoulder, in ditch, or on sidewalk or median
- Passing where prohibited
- Operating the vehicle in an erratic, reckless, careless, or negligent manner or suddenly changing speeds
- Failure to yield right of way
- Failure to obey traffic signs, traffic control devices, or traffic officers, failure to observe safety zone traffic laws
- Failure to observe warnings or instructions on vehicle displaying them
- Failure to signal
- Driving too fast for conditions or in excess of posted speed limit
- Making an improper turn
Speeding continues to be the leading aggressive driving behavior. In 2014 driving too fast played a role for 19% of drivers involved in fatal crashes, making it the most prevalent factor in fatal crashes. In 2009, Georgia had 1,295 fatalities related to motor vehicle crashes. Nearly a quarter of Georgia’s crash deaths involve motorists who drive at unsafe or illegal speeds.
What is being done to reduce aggressive driving in Georgia?
The Georgia Governor's Office of Highway Safety and local law enforcement agencies joined forces in 2011 to create H.E.A.T — Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic — to combat impaired and aggressive drivers. The goal of H.E.A.T. is to educate the public and enforce laws related to impaired and aggressive driving. Each officer is armed with materials to educate Georgia residents about state laws that regulate aggressive and impaired driving. Recently, several cities like Marietta have received H.E.A.T. grant money to pay for additional patrol officers on duty, as well as educational materials for the general public.
Aggressive driving is incredibly dangerous and completely avoidable
As I work with my clients whose lives have been disrupted, and sometimes destroyed, by the actions of aggressive drivers, I am always struck by how preventable and unnecessary these crashes are. The selfish and impulsive decisions made by aggressive drivers have long-term, often permanent consequences, and in hindsight, are tragic in part because of the insignificant reasons for the behaviors. I very much hope that funding continues for public education and law enforcement programs that will help reduce the aggressive driving that results in so much heartache.