Aggressive driving: 80-plus police departments across the Philadelphia region to step up enforcement this summer

Police departments across the region are banding together this summer to clamp down on aggressive driving.

The Pennsylvania State Police and more than 80 municipal departments in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties will step up their enforcement through August 21, a release from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation says.

They will focus on infractions like speeding, tailgating and red light running. Pedestrian safety and heavy truck violations will be targeted, as well.

Philadelphia has a reputation for road rage and reckless drivers. It was identified as the city with the second-most aggressive drivers in the U.S. behind only Los Angeles in a 2019 study from GasBuddy

Last year, the nearly 1,500 aggressive driving incidents recorded across the region caused 27 deaths, PennDOT reports.

Police will use traffic enforcement zones, speed enforcement details and other multi-jurisdictional patrol strategies to identify aggressive drivers. Anyone stopped for unsafe driving will receive a ticket.

The effort is part of the Pennsylvania Highway Safety Program and funded in part through money PennDOT received from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

PennDOT has some tips for those who encounter an aggressive driver on the road.

It’s best to simply get out of their way and not challenge them. Stay relaxed and avoid making eye contact or rude gestures.

Do not attempt to pursue an aggressive driver. Instead, drivers should call the police, but only if they can pull over to a safe location to do so.

Road rage incidents often stem from stress, a lack of sleep, anger management issues or drivers who are under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

They became more common during the pandemic due to a phenomenon called “social disengagement,” which produces more careless and selfish behavior on the road, researchers say. A lack of interpersonal contact weakens the stigma attached to breaking rules and may lead to more anger in the broader population.

“There’s a portion of the population that is incredibly frustrated, enraged, and some of that behavior shows up in their driving,” said Mark Hallenbeck, director of the Washington State Transportation Center at the University of Washington. “We in our vehicles are given anonymity in this giant metal box around us, and we act out in ways that we wouldn’t face to face.”

Aggressive driving incidents often happen when people are impatient or in a rush, so one way to avoid them is to not block the passing lane if you’re driving slower than most traffic on a given roadway.

King Hua, 54, was fatally shot in Springfield on his way to work last Thursday because a passenger in the car behind him believed he was driving too slow.

Saddiq Washington, 22, was arrested at his home in Darby that evening and charged with third-degree murder and related offenses. He was in the car with his mother at the time of the shooting.

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