SOUTHERN MARYLAND - More than 90 state and local law enforcement agencies from Maryland, Virginia, the District of Columbia and Pennsylvania are once again joining together in an aggressive driving prevention and enforcement campaign called Smooth Operator. Aggressive driving has been noted by area motorists to be one of the greatest threats facing their everyday lives even more of a threat than those perceived from impaired drivers.
When we say aggressive driving, were not talking about road rage, or fights on the side of the street, said Charles County Sheriff Rex W. Coffey. Aggressive driving behaviors include speeding, tailgating, unsafe lane changes, running red lights or stop signs and using the shoulder to cut through traffic. These are all things that cause dangerous conditions on our roads and are leading to completely avoidable crashes and fatalities.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) calculates that crashes caused by aggressive driving behaviors cost society more than $40 billion per year. NHTSA also estimates that aggressive driving behaviors are responsible for one-third of injury crashes and two-thirds of highway fatalities. In Maryland, 88 people died during 2006 as a result of aggressive driving-related crashes and more than 4,500 were injured as a result of aggressive driving, according to NHTSA.
During the 2006 campaign, enforcement officers from the region issued more than 364,000 citations and warnings to drivers. This year, they are continuing to encourage motorists to slow down and drive safely. Additionally, police and transportation officials have warned about the need for added patience and attention when driving around trucks, buses and motorcycles.
Aggressive driving is a real threat to all who share the roadways and requires a focused effort, said Sheriff Coffey. Close collaboration and cooperation across jurisdictions is what makes Smooth Operator so successful in both enforcement and education.
Maryland residents have several options for reporting aggressive drivers, including using #77 on their cell phones or even dialing 911. Remember to provide as much information about the offending vehicle as possible including its make, model, color, direction of travel, location and tag number.
In addition, motorists may report an aggressive driver through the Web site of the Smooth Operator program. Additional information to keep in mind is to stay calm when encountering an aggressive driver, keep your distance from that driver, do not return gestures and remember not to take it personally.
What most people fail to realize is that they in fact may be a part of the problem themselves. Here are some tips on how to avoid becoming an aggressive driver:
* Allow more travel time to get to your destination. It reduces stress dramatically.
* Come to a full stop at red lights and stop signs. Never run yellow lights.
* Let other drivers merge with you.
* Obey posted speed limits.
* Don't follow other drivers too closely.
* Resist temptation to teach someone "a lesson."
* Concentrate on driving, not on the stereo, cell phone, passengers or other distractions.
* Remember that you can't control traffic but you can control yourself, your driving and your emotions.
* Finally, always wear your seatbelt and buckle children in the proper child safety seat or booster. Seatbelts are your best defense against aggressive or even impaired drivers.
For more information on aggressive driving and reporting aggressive drivers, visit http://www.smoothoperatorprogram.com/ .