Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Aggressive and/or Careless Driving

With each semester, we experience excitement and anxiety which come naturally with school projects, jobs, family, finances and even the weather. We must take care to prevent these moods from affecting our driving.

Things like “careless/reckless/aggressive driving,” and “road rage” are used to describe a person’s behavior when driving unsafely. Driving is a privilege for citizens and guests of this country, granted to us in the form of a permit from our state government and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), better known as vehicle operator license. While we should drive safely and defensively, the reality is that more and more drivers are becoming aggressive drivers, even though this behavior could threaten the lives of other road users as well as their own.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Michigan State Police have accepted this definition of aggressive driving: when individuals commit a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property. It is estimated 66% of road fatalities are caused by aggressive driving behaviors.
The most common behaviors of aggressive drivers include exceeding the posted speed limit, following too closely (tail gating), failure to obey traffic control devices (stop signs, yield signs, traffic signals, railroad grade cross signals, etc.), red light running, erratic or unsafe lane changes and improperly signaling lane changes.

Aggressive driving by definition is a traffic offense, but can escalate into road rage, which is a criminal offense. Road rage is defined by the NHTSA as "an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger(s) of one motor vehicle on the operator or passenger(s) of another motor vehicle or is caused by an incident that occurred on a roadway."

On aggressive driving, there are two separate statutes which are concepts of aggressive driving. They are “Careless Driving” and “Reckless Driving.” The difference between careless and reckless driving is one of intent and/or the possible consequences of such an act.

Under Michigan Criminal Law, the definition for careless and reckless driving can be found at MCL 257.626b Careless Driving and MCL 257.626 Reckless Driving (note web links below).

Safety must our priority at all times, so drive carefully, and enjoy the roads at Andrews University.The safety and security of our campus depends on everyone’s participation.

Contributed by:
Ivan Sierra-Rivera, Safety Officer
Office of Public Safety
Andrews University

The following links are of reference and interest:
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
Michigan State Police
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration



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