GRAFTON, Mass. - It does not take long to find examples of aggressive driving on our roadways. Most of us see it every day; the road racer, the distracter, the tailgater, the frequent lane changer and the red light runner.
The atmosphere created by aggressive drivers is dangerous. As part of the Grafton Police Department’s efforts to make our roadways safer, I am once again dedicating this and next week’s column to aggressive driving. This and more information may be found at www.nhtsa.gov.
Aggressive driving is all around us. We have all seen aggressive drivers who carelessly:
Express frustration: Drivers climb into the anonymity of an automobile and take out their frustrations on anybody at any time. Their emotions are high, and the concern for fellow motorists is low.
Lack attention to driving: Distractions from driving are a major cause of roadway crashes. Motorists are often seen eating, drinking, primping, and even shaving as they drive. It is not uncommon to see motorists talking on their cell phones or texting as they are driving.
Tailgate: Tailgating creates a serious hazard. It is a major cause of crashes that can result in serious injuries.
Make frequent, unnecessary lane changes: Drivers who whip in and out of lanes merely to advance one car length ahead are a danger to other motorists.
Rubberneck: Slowing down to look at an incident is a natural human reaction. But this behavior slows traffic, causes congestion, and may lead to another car crash.
Run red lights, Stop or Yield Signs: Disregarding traffic controls is a leading cause of urban crashes.
Speed: Going faster than the posted speed limit, being a “road racer,” going too fast for conditions, and weaving in and out of traffic are some examples of speeding.
What can be done to lessen the problem?
- Realize that traffic crashes are caused by the way we drive: Motor vehicle crashes are not inevitable…they are avoidable.
- Reduce your stress when you drive: Allow plenty of time for the trip, listen to soothing music, improve the comfort in your vehicle, and understand that you cannot control the traffic, only your reaction to it. In the end, we may very well discover that personal frustration, anger, and impatience may be the most dangerous “drugs” on the highway.
- Assume other drivers’ mistakes are not personal: Be polite and courteous, even if the other driver is not. Avoid all conflict if possible. If another driver challenges you, take a deep breath, and move out of the way. Never underestimate the other driver’s capacity for mayhem.
- Report aggressive drivers: Remember, the phone number for the Grafton Police Department is 508-839-5343. If you have a cellular telephone in your vehicle, keep the number handy. Then, when you see a driver operating a vehicle in a threatening manner, you or a passenger should call the police department when it is safe to do so. Make sure you give a vehicle description, license number, the location and direction of travel. You could prevent a tragedy.
- Be a courteous driver yourself: Everyone has the power to set an example, and this will help make our roadways safer. Please, use that power and show some ROAD RESPECT.
Next week, I’ll provide a test for anyone who would like to evaluate their own driving habits and determine if they’re adding to the aggressive driving atmosphere.
Anyone with questions for the Chief’s Column may submit them by mail to the Grafton Police Department, 28 Providence Road, Grafton, MA 01519. You may also email your questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include an appropriate subject line with your email, as I do not open suspicious email for obvious reasons.
Normand A. Crepeau, Jr.
Chief of Police