Tech Police Department
on lookout for `road rage'
Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 32 - June 4, 1998
In an accelerated effort to thwart the dangerously rising number of aggressive driving incidents, the Virginia Tech Police Department is intensifying its patrols watching for that behavior during the current phase, "Wave 5," of the Smart, Safe & Sober program, according to Lt. Harry Freer.
"Aggressive driving is driving that is done with anger and provokes anger in others," Freer said. Every year since 1990, when this phenomenon started to be tracked, at least 1,500 people have been killed or injured in the U.S. because of enraged, aggressive drivers. It is a growing threat to safety on the roadways.
Aggressive driving often involves multiple offenses taking place over a series of miles. At its worst, it is elevated to what is commonly called road rage and involves the use of the vehicle as a weapon. Or, it involves the use of a weapon such as a gun or tire iron.
During this wave, officers are undertaking special enforcement operations as well as conducting saturation patrols and traffic checkpoints. Freer advises motorists who encounter an aggressive driver to avoid eye contact or any other reaction that may lead to the enraged individual continuing to engage in hostility. If the enraged driver persists, drive to the nearest police station or busy place to get help; when stopped in traffic, leave enough space between you and the car in front of you to enable you to turn away if you have to. If someone tries to get into your car, sound the horn to attract attention.
While special attention is being given to aggressive driving, Virginia Tech Police Department is also strictly enforcing Virginia's safety-belt and child-safety seat laws.
Smart, Safe & Sober aims to prevent traffic deaths around the state through coordinated stepped-up law enforcement. Its first four phases, starting in April 1997, addressed speeding, issues related to young drivers, drunk driving and occupant restraints.
Smart, Safe & Sober is a joint program of Virginia Tech Police Department, Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, the Virginia Sheriff's Association, the Virginia Department of State Police, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, Virginia Commonwealth University's Transportation Safety Training Center, DRIVE SMART Virginia, and the Air Bag and Seat Belt Safety Campaign. Future enforcement phases will target the safety of young drivers and drunk and drugged driving again.