Special effort targets aggressive drivers in Pa.

Posted: July 21, 2012

Listen up, aggressive drivers in Pennsylvania. Between now and Aug. 16, police will be targeting - and ticketing - you.

Don't even think about running red lights, speeding, tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, or failing to yield the right of way.

Police statewide are mounting a campaign to reduce the number of accidents, injuries, and deaths caused by aggressive driving, officials said Thursday at a news briefing in East Norriton Township.

Across Pennsylvania, aggressive drivers caused 6,300 crashes in 2011, killing 168 people.

Of those fatalities, Philadelphia reported 42; Bucks County, 33; Montgomery County, 25; Chester County, 23; and Delaware County, 13, said Brad Rudolph, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

By contrast, in 2007, Philadelphia reported 64 fatalities; Bucks, 41; Montgomery, 29; Chester, 33; and Delaware, 16.

The numbers have remained more or less steady for the last five years, Rudolph said. The goal is to get to zero the number of fatalities caused by aggressive and distracted drivers.

"Distracted drivers are likely to also become aggressive drivers," said Lester C. Toaso, PennDot District 6 executive.

Distracted drivers comb hair, eat, fiddle with the radio, study papers, apply makeup, or use computer devices while behind the wheel. Of those, it is illegal only to text-message while driving, according to a recently passed state law.

It's too early to know whether the law is working, Rudolph said. "We don't have a year of data yet," he said.

Targeting aggressive driving is a project of PennDot and its safety partners, the Montgomery County Health Department, Buckle Up PA, and state and municipal police forces.

All sent representatives to the news conference in Montgomery County. Money for overtime for the special effort comes from $2.3 million channeled to the state from the federal Highway Safety Administration.

Statewide, 330 municipal police departments and the state police will participate in the effort.

In the Philadelphia area, these roads will be targeted: Routes 30, 202, 611, 100, 309, 63, 663, 422; I-76, I-476; Ridge Pike, and Bustard Road in Towamencin.

Cpl. R.J. Palermo of the West Norriton Police Department said motorists who see aggressive drivers should remain calm, pull over, and call 911.

Any rude gestures or harsh words will only escalate the situation, Palermo said.

"It takes a bigger person if someone is acting that way not to respond," he said.


Contact Bonnie L. Cook at 610-313-8232 or bcook@phillynews.com. Read her "MontCo Memo" blog on philly.com.

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