ST. PAUL - We've all encountered them... angry drivers who wear their emotions on their sleeve, turning vehicles into potentially deadly weapons.
In truth, some of us have been "that" guy or gal.
A new television spot launched by Mn/DOT and a new website aim to educate Minnesota motorists on just what constitutes aggressive driving, and what drivers can do if they encounter someone demonstrating dangerous behavior behind the wheel.
"We're showing aggressive behavior in a context other than driving to help motorists identify behavior that is unacceptable in social situations, but that we see on the road," says Sue Groth, director of Mn/DOT's Office of Traffic, Safety and Technology.
Tailgating, unsafe passing, running lights and weaving in and out of traffic are typical traits of aggressive drivers that can quickly turn roads deadly. These behaviors can also include honking, screaming at motorists, as well as making hand gestures. Traffic safety officials say aggressive driving can turn to road rage, when such behaviors result in actual physical or vehicle-to-vehicle altercations.
"The key when encountering an aggressive driver is to stay calm and do not engage with or respond to them," says Donna Berger, director of DPS Office of Traffic Safety. "Remember, getting to your destination safely and protecting you and your passengers are the goal."
Safety officials offer these suggestions for any motorist who encounters an aggressive driver.
- Get out of their way.
- Stay calm.
- Do not challenge them.
- Avoid eye contact.
- Ignore gestures and don't return them.
- Buckle up. A seat belt is important to maintain proper seating position in the case of abrupt driving maneuvers.
- Report aggressive driving: Call 911 - provide vehicle description, license number and location.
The aggressive driving education effort is a component of the state's Toward Zero Deaths initiative (TZD). TZD is the state's cornerstone traffic safety program that is a partnership between DPS, Mn/DOT, Department of Health (MDH), Minnesota Emergency Medical Services Board and other traffic safety partners.
Mn/DOT says last year, common aggressive driving behaviors resulted in 61 deaths and 6,791 injuries. In 2011, the State Patrol took enforcement action on 5,527 incidents of careless and reckless driving, following too closely and unsafe lane change/change of course.
(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. )