The purpose of this circular is to provide information to Department personnel and community members, which will enhance their knowledge and awareness of daily traffic issues. The information in this circular can be used for crime prevention meetings, community presentations, enforcement efforts, or in any other forum deemed appropriate. The topic this month is Aggressive Driving Awareness.
In recent years, aggressive driving has increased. When provoked, aggressive, angry drivers have been known to commit acts of violence, commonly known as road rage. There is a difference between aggressive driving and road rage. Aggressive driving is a traffic offense; road rage is a criminal offense.
Aggressive driving is defined as a progression of unlawful driving actions such as: exceeding the posted speed limit or driving too fast for conditions; failing to leave a safe distance between vehicles; failing to signal intent and failing to leave sufficient clearance between vehicles when changing lanes; or failing to signal intent, using an emergency lane to pass, or passing on the shoulder.
Road rage is defined as an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by a vehicle’s operator or passenger(s) upon another person, when the assault was precipitated by an incident, which occurred on a roadway. Road rage requires willful and wanton disregard for the safety of others.
What can you do about this? You can choose to drive and react courteously no matter what is happening around you. You’d be surprised at the power positive actions can have, because you’re an important link in any chain reaction of driving events which can occur around you. When you smile and let someone move into your lane, when you choose to ignore another discourteous driver’s actions instead of "teaching him a lesson," when you leave enough time to drive somewhere without aggressively speeding, you are making choices that have a positive effect on the driving environment. Ask yourself the following questions to discover what habits you need to improve on to be a more courteous driver:
- Do I allow the recommended three-second following distance when behind a vehicle?
- Do I yield to other drivers, even when I think they’re rude? How do I react when another driver follows me too closely or signals that he wants to move into my lane?
- Do I let other drivers know my intention to change lanes by using my turn signal?
- Do I let myself get distracted with other activities while I drive?
- Do I weave in and out of traffic, or do I realize that lane speeds usually "even out" and that it’s more courteous and less stressful to remain in one lane?
- Do I honor the "every other car" rule when two lanes are merging into one?
- Do I move to the slower lanes if traffic is traveling faster than I am?
- Do I signal an apology if I inadvertently make a mistake while driving, such as cutting someone off accidentally?
No one drives courteously and without mistakes all the time. These questions are good to keep in mind when driving, because they’ll remind you to think how your driving impacts others. If just a few more drivers start thinking about how they affect others, the streets and freeways will be a nicer and safer place to spend your commuting time. Also, in order to avoid situations with a driver you suspect may be violent, there are precautions you as a driver should take every time you get behind the wheel.
Avoid offending other drivers. Actions which commonly provoke drivers to commit acts of violence include:
- Being cut off by other vehicles,
- Being tailgated,
- Drivers who do not signal their turns or lane changes,
- Driving behind a slow-moving vehicle in the fast lane of traffic,
- Drivers who do not pay attention because of cellular phone use, looking for an address, applying makeup or being overcautious,
- Drivers stopping in a traffic lane to pick-up or drop-off passengers,
- Motorcyclists splitting traffic,
- Improper use of hi-beam headlights,
- Inconsiderate municipal bus and taxicab drivers, and
- Being the object of obscene gestures.
Do not engage other drivers. Avoid engaging other drivers, even if they have done something to make you angry or vice versa. Put as much distance between you and the other driver as possible and avoid making eye contact. Never pull off the roadway to confront another driver.
Steer Clear - Give angry drivers lots of room. Do not, under any circumstances, pull off to the side of the road and try to settle things.
Avoid eye contact - If another driver is acting angry with you, don’t make eye contact. Looking or staring at another driver can turn an impersonal encounter between two vehicles into a personal duel.
Get help - If you believe the other driver is following you or is trying to start a fight, get help. If you have a cellular phone, use it to call the police. Otherwise, drive to a place where there are people around, such as a police station, convenience store, shopping center, or even a hospital. Use your horn to get someone’s attention. This will usually discourage an aggressor. Do not get out of your car. Do not go home.
Change your attitude and approaches to driving. Avoid creating a competitive situation with another driver, even if they are at fault. In the end, it is a lose/lose situation that can cost you your life. Try not to take another person’s bad driving personally. Their problems on and off the road have nothing to do with you.
Keeping your anger in check. When someone is upset or under stress, sometimes all it takes is something trivial to set a person on a course to road rage. These things might include excessive vehicle horn noise, someone taking too long to move at a green light or loud music from another vehicle. But none of these minor annoyances is worth putting you or others at risk. The following tips should help you avoid having a stressful time behind the wheel:
- Learn to manage the stress in your life,
- Try to avoid driving when you are angry,
- Allow plenty of time to get where you are going,
- Listen to traffic and weather reports to learn of traffic delays, and
- Listen to soothing music while driving.
If you suspect another driver is targeting you for an act of road rage or you are being followed, go to a safe place such as a police, fire or gas station where there are people. If you have a cellular phone, call the police immediately. DO NOT drive home!
DAILY TRAFFIC MISSION
The daily mission of uniformed officers is to ensure the safe movement of traffic through education and enforcement. Therefore, the four traffic divisions of the Los Angeles Police Department have developed the following strategies to target aggressive driving in an attempt to reduce the number of traffic collisions.
- Educate the community on aggressive driving issues.
- Provide roll call training on aggressive driving in traffic and patrol divisions.
- Educate officers so the below listed California Vehicle Code (CVC) Sections can be enforced to reduce aggressive driving:
21654 (a) CVC (Slow Moving Vehicles) - Vehicles traveling on a highway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic shall be driven in the right-hand traffic lane or as close as practicable to the right-hand edge or curb of the roadway.
21658 (a) CVC (Unsafe Lane Change) - Whenever any roadway has been divided into two or more clearly marked lanes for traffic in one direction, a vehicle shall be driven within a single lane and shall not be moved from the lane until such movement can be made with reasonable safety.
21703 CVC (Following Too Closely) - The driver of a vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicle and the traffic upon, and the condition of, the roadway.
21750 CVC (Overtake and Pass to Left) - The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle or a bicycle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left at a safe distance without interfering with the safe operation of the overtaken vehicle or bicycle.
22100 (a) CVC (Turning Upon a Highway) - Both the approach for a right-hand turn and a right-hand turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.
22109 CVC (Signal When Stopping) - No person shall stop or suddenly decrease the speed of a vehicle on a highway without first giving an appropriate signal to the driver of any vehicle immediately to the rear when there is opportunity to give the signal.
22350 CVC (Basic Speed Law) - No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.
OFFICER AND COMMUNITY RESPONSIBILITIES
It is responsibility of all drivers and pedestrians to observe the traffic laws as described in the California Vehicle Code. Also, it is the responsibility of every uniformed officer to enforce those laws and regulations and to educate the community on the importance of traffic safety. These efforts will help ensure the safety of motorists and pedestrians throughout the City.