Delaware police officers crack down on aggressive drivers
Published: Sunday, October 28, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 19:04
According to the Office of Highway Safety, 32 out of 83 fatal car crashes this year in Delaware were due to aggressive driving behaviors.
Local police officers will be watching for drivers committing aggressive behavior this week, according to an Office of Highway Safety community relations officer Alison Kirk. She said several common violations are classified as aggressive driving.
“Police are asked to look for drivers violating any type of traffic violations,” Kirk said. “Aggressive driving consists of your basic traffic violations: running stop signs, speeding, failing to yield and those sorts of basic violations.”
According to a press release from the Office of Highway Safety, the “Respect the Sign” campaign against aggressive driving will be implemented across Delaware until Saturday, Nov. 3.State police are working with local law enforcement in Georgetown, Milford, Newark, New Castle County, Seaford and Wilmington to crack down on aggressive behavior on the roads in Delaware.
The press release states that police officers will be pulling over drivers who are seen committing three or more violations in one incident. In addition to the basic traffic violations Kirk mentioned, officers will also be looking for drivers who are tailgating, changing lanes improperly and running red lights.
Junior Ryan Huttman said he is skeptical this enforcement will work. He said he thinks peoples’ differing opinions on what constitutes aggressive driving may cause problems for officers.
“There is no definition for [aggressive driving],” Huttman said. “There is a lot of opinion so what they might think is aggressive driving might be perfectly normal and it’d just be a huge pain for everyone. I don’t think it’ll get better.”
SeniorVirginia Thornton said she thinks the effect of this enforcement will depend on the person and does not believe some drivers will be as receptive as others.
“I think it will affect some drivers,” Thornton said. “The re-education might be good for some drivers, but for some it might not.”
Newark Police Spokesman MCpl. Gerald Bryda said he is optimistic the enforcement will lower aggressive driving behavior in the state. He said the purposes of “Respect the Sign” are to step up enforcement, raise awareness, apprehend offenders and reduce the high rate of accidents caused by aggressive driving.
Bryda said in order to combat aggressive driving, the Office of Highway Safety will have additional officers patrolling roads at all times, especially during hours of high traffic.
“Normally we have a normal compliment of officers that are scheduled to work,” Bryda said. “The Office of Highway Safety is paying additional officers to work that day or that time frame in order to just patrol for just aggressive driving.”
Huttman said he believes the enforcement will do more harm than good. He said he does not consider many of the violations set by the Office of Highway Safety aggressive driving.
“I think it will just hinder drivers because they’re going to pull more people over for what they consider aggressive driving when it’s not going to be,” he said. “That will just make them late and have to pay for a ticket.”
Thornton said she while she thinks the extra enforcement could do temporary good, she does not think there will be significant long-term changes. She said short-term extended enforcement cannot bring long-lasting changes to individuals’ driving behaviors.
According to the press release, the penalties for offenders are the same as they would be during the normal year. It states drivers cited for aggressive driving will receive six points on their licenses and will be fined between $100 and $300. Drivers will also be required to pay an additional $100and complete eight hours of behavior modification and an attitudinal driving course within 90 days after the conviction for aggressive driving.
Kirk said the Office of Highway Safety is raising awareness not just on the roads, but also online. She said on the office’s website, people are able to take part in a four question quiz about their driving habits. The quiz is meant to be a fun, interactive way for people to see what their driving behavior is like, Kirk said.
“At the end they’ll get a personality profile matching them up with how they answered the questions; if they are one of those raging drivers or if they’re a relaxed type of driver,” she said. “It just gives them a little information of how they drive.”