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Crackdown on Aggressive Drivers Coming

This week, we talked about a survey concluding that drivers in Washington and Baltimore had become much more courteous during the past year. In our own un-scientific poll, readers begged to differ.

The Smooth Operator campaign, the annual police enforcement wave that targets aggressive drivers, notes the consequences of our bad behavior.

In Virginia, 183 lives were lost in speed-related crashes during 2007, the latest year with complete statistics. That was a 9 percent increase from 2006. The Maryland numbers show that from 2005 to 2007, aggressive driving killed an average of 75 people per year. That was an increase from the previous three years, during which an average of 64 people died in aggressive driving crashes.

"One of the simplest ways to reduce aggressive driving is to reduce your speed," said United States Park Police Chief Sal Lauro, who participated in a law enforcement gathering Wednesday at the Lincoln Memorial to highlight the campaign. "The cooperative effort of jurisdictions through the Smooth Operator campaign saves lives and makes our roads safer by reducing the incidence of aggressive driving."

What do they mean by aggressive driving? Speeding, tailgating, running red lights and stop signs, improper passing and other creative maneuvers. During the Smooth Operator campaign waves of July, August and September, officers are assigned to target speeding and other forms of aggressive driving. They issue lots of tickets: Almost three million since the campaign began in 1997.

But it's really up to us. The summer heat and the accompanying highway construction season offer opportunities to examine our own behavior.

By Robert Thomson  |  June 20, 2009; 8:08 AM ET
Categories:  Driving , Safety  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Smooth Operator  
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