Aggressive Driving and Speed

Updated July 2017

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 2017, 15 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. In 2015, speeding was a contributing factor in 27 percent of all fatal crashes, and 9,557 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, airbags and child safety seats can be less effective at high rates of speed; this also contributes to injuries and fatalities.

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Douglas Shinkle