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Maryland counties raise awareness of aggressive driving dangers

We have all seen them. The driver who appears to be in such a hurry that he or she is constantly changing lanes, tailgating and generally acting aggressively to get where he or she is going. Road rage is nothing new on the nation's highways and byways. And although the term did not enter into the official American lexicon until roughly 20 years ago, it has been in practice for at least as long as the automobile.

Montgomery County and Prince George's County are again promoting the "Smooth Operator" campaign, launched in 1997 when 18 different law enforcement agencies teamed up to combat aggressive drivers. The safety awareness campaign seeks to educate the public on not just bad driving but the dangers of aggressive driving as well. According to police estimates, three people die in aggressive driving-related car accidents each day. That is over 1,000 avoidable deaths each year.

Police say aggressive driving is about putting other people unnecessarily at risk. One police officer stated that when he arrives on the scene of a fatal car accident, he knows the crash was not just a one-time occurrence, but rather a regular pattern of bad driving behavior. Aggressive driving is defined as running through stop signs, tailgating, speeding and the like.

The police want people to know there are common sense strategies in order to avoid being an aggressive driver. For example, plan for plenty of travel time so you are not stressed trying to get to your destination on time. Don't run yellow lights or try to 'teach someone a lesson' for his or bad driving. Stay focused on actually driving and don't become distracted with your cellphone. Just remember that you cannot control traffic, but you can control your response to it.

Car accidents are one of the leading causes of death in this country and lead to numerous personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits as well. Protect yourself and your loved ones on the roadways this summer and steer clear of aggressive drivers and take steps to put a stop to your own aggressive driving habits. You could just save a life.

Source: WTOP, "Md. counties crack down on aggressive drivers," Kate Ryan, June 4, 2012

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