Rising Temperatures = Rising Tempers

DC, MD and VA Law Enforcement Crack Down on Aggressive Driving; Campaign Continues to Highlight Dangers of Driving Aggressively in the Summer Months

WASHINGTON, June 21 /PRNewswire/ — With summer officially beginning today, local law enforcement officials from Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia came together to announce their continued commitment to combating aggressive driving during the summer months. At a news conference this morning at the Second District Washington Metropolitan Police Department officials with the Smooth Operator campaign reminded residents “We’re tough on aggressive drivers!”

The first day of summer means more children playing outdoors, away from the protection of a school classroom, an influx of tourists crowding the sidewalks and construction activities ramping up and slowing down traffic. The hot days of summer often lead to hot-headed driving with a dramatic increase in aggressive driving, speeding injuries and fatalities during the summer months — especially July. Coupled with the fact that the DC metropolitan area and Baltimore are among the top 20 most congested regions in the country, the summer months can be a very dangerous time on the roads.

“By itself, aggressive driving is dangerous enough. Add factors like highway construction, school being out and hot temperatures to the mix and you have a recipe for potential disaster,” said Captain Jesse Bowman, Commander, Traffic Division, Fairfax County Police. “Drivers must slow down and drive more attentively when going through work zones and residential areas during the summer. But if they don’t, officers will be out in force citing them for their dangerous driving.”

Smooth Operator is also getting tough on speeding, which is almost always a factor in aggressive driving incidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), speeding is a factor in 31 percent of all fatal crashes, killing an average of 1,000 Americans every month.

Summer is also the season of highway construction entailing lane shifts, shoulder closures, temporary detours and unexpected slowdowns. In Maryland, traffic-affecting work continues on the Baltimore beltway and the Route 29 expansion. In Virginia, the Springfield Interchange construction will continue throughout the summer. Additionally, this summer’s construction impacts at the Woodrow Wilson Bridge are expected to be the most severe of the 11-year construction project. Law enforcement will be heavy through work zones so drivers need to keep their cool.

The Smooth Operator campaign consists of four separate waves. The first wave from May 22-28, 2005 proved to be very successful with 55,189 citations and warnings written for various driving violations, including speeding, running red lights, and non-compliance with safety belt laws. The second wave of law enforcement is taking place right now. From June 19-25 more than 80 participating law enforcement agencies will be looking out for aggressive driving behaviors, including speeding, tailgating, running red light and stop signs, improper passing and other dangerous driving maneuvers. Last year alone, citations during four enforcement waves totaled more than 260,000 — a fourfold increase from the 62,000 issued in the initial year.

About Smooth Operator

Eighteen Washington area law enforcement agencies launched Smooth Operator in 1997, targeting motorists who drove aggressively. By 1999, the coalition had grown to include elected officials and representatives from government agencies, private sector organizations, and law enforcement agencies from Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. To enhance the annual law enforcement efforts, public awareness campaigns and research began in 2000 and formed a cooperative interstate effort that is unique among the law enforcement groups and organizations involved.

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