Florida law enforcement agencies are taking a stand against aggressive drivers, following a historic rise in deadly crashes here and throughout the country.
Florida Highway Patrol troopers have committed in various operations - including Ticketing Aggressive Cars and Trucks (TACT) - to specifically watch for aggressive drivers. These include motorists who are tailgating, speeding and weaving their way through traffic, posing a serious risk to others with whom they share the road.
Officials have been watching these behaviors closely ever since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced last year the highest increase in traffic fatalities in four decades. Traffic safety experts say aggressive driving plays a substantial role, accounting for as many as 56 percent of all crashes.
Florida is one of only a dozen states that have an aggressive driving law. F.S. 316.1923 is coined as "aggressive careless driving." The statute defines aggressive driving as committing two or more of the following at the same time or in succession:
- Exceeding the posted speed limit;
- Improperly or unsafely changing lanes;
- Following another vehicle too closely;
- Failing to yield the right-of-way;
- Improperly passing;
- Violation of a traffic control device (i.e., stop sign or traffic light).
Although state legislators took pains to define aggressive driving, there isn't actually a specific penalty for it. Violators may be ticketed for individual infractions and officers will check the "aggressive driving" box on the traffic ticket form. This information can be used by a judge when meting out penalties, and could result in an aggressive driver course requirement.
The TACT program typically involves not just enforcement of these provisions, but also education and awareness campaigns that include brochures, radio advertisements and billboards.
In the long-run, another important means of tamping down aggressive drivers involves traffic engineering. The Florida Department of Transportation reports even basic infrastructure tweaks can have a big impact. For example, better coordination of timed signals between intersections or different signal timing or speed limit reviews can go a long way in lowering aggressive driving. Speed limits need be set considering the number of vulnerable road users, traffic operations and other environmental conditions. If it's not carefully reviewed on a somewhat regular basis, drivers may end up losing respect for the speed limit, and in turn not obeying it.
That's not to say drivers are free to do so - they are still breaching a duty of care when they fail to abide a speed that is both reasonable and safe. However, if state, county and city traffic engineers conduct regular reviews, they may be able to curb some issues before they arise.
For those hoping to avoid aggressive drivers, the best approach is often avoidance. Steer clear of them and get out of their way. Other defensive driving tactics include:
- Remain calm and relaxed.
- Don't challenge them. Avoid any eye contact, ignore rudeness (including gestures) and refuse to return them.
- Give the other driver the benefit of the doubt. In a lot of cases, "aggressive" driving isn't actually intentional.
- Don't block the passing lane, especially if you are driving slower than most traffic. Move your vehicle to the right.
If you are injured in an aggressive driving accident, our Sanford traffic injury lawyers can help.