Aggressive Driving and Speed
Updated February 2013
The term “aggressive driving” covers a range of unsafe driving behavior. Speeding, tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, running red lights, or any combination of these activities generally are considered aggressive driving. Although most drivers are familiar with this type of driving, it is difficult for legislatures to completely define aggressive driving. As of 2006, 12 states have passed laws aimed at aggressive drivers. Typically, these establish an aggressive driving offense and establish fines and penalties for committing such an offense.
Speed-related crashes cost society an estimated $40 billion per year. It is a factor in 30 percent of all fatal car crashes, according to NHTSA. In 2008, speeding was a contributing factor in 31 percent of all fatal crashes, and 11,674 lives were lost in speeding-related crashes. Speed is a factor in many crashes because of the physical forces at work. It takes longer to stop a speeding vehicle, and speed hinders the driver’s ability to detect dangerous situations. The IIHS reports that crash severity is directly related to speed. If speed increases by 50 percent, the energy released in a crash more than doubles. This increased force is what causes severe injuries and fatalities. Passenger restraint systems such as seat belts, air bags and child safety seats can be less effective at high rates of speed; this also contributes to injuries and fatalities.
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New! Traffic Safety Trends: State Legislative Action 2012, February 2013, by Anne Teigen and Douglas Shinkle. See Appendix H: Aggressive Driving Laws.
Traffic Safety and Public Health: State Legislative Action, 2011, No. 36, February 2012, by Anne Teigen and Douglas Shinkle.
Traffic Safety and Public Health: State Legislative Action, 2010, No. 35, December 2010, by Melissa Savage and Anne Teigen.
Traffic Safety and Public Health: State Legislative Action 2009, No. 34, February 2010, by Melissa Savage, Anne Teigen and Nicholas Farber.
Aggressive Driving, Transportation Review, February 2007 by Anne Teigen.