In recent years, aggressive driving and road rage has increased on City streets. When provoked, angry drivers have been known to commit acts of violence, including assaults and murder. It is important to recognize the warning signs of aggressive driving in order to avoid becoming involved in a potentially hazardous situation. Examples of aggressive driving include: tailgating, cutting off other vehicles, careless lane changes, speeding, and running red lights. Extremely aggressive driving can lead to road rage. Signs to be aware of include: obscene gestures, verbal assaults, intentionally crashing into other vehicles, and threatening to use weapons.
In order to avoid engaging in a situation with a driver you suspect may be violent there are precautions you as a driver should take every time you get behind the wheel.
Avoid offending other drivers
Some things that commonly provoke drivers to commit acts of violence include:
- Being cut off by other vehicles,
- Being tailgated,
- Drivers who do not signal their turns or lane changes,
- Driving behind a slow-moving vehicle in the fast lane of traffic,
- Drivers who do not pay attention because of cell phone use, looking for an address, applying makeup or being overcautious,
- Drivers stopping in a traffic lane to pick-up or drop-off passengers,
- Motorcyclists splitting traffic,
- Improper use of hi-beam headlights,
- Inconsiderate municipal bus and taxicab drivers, and
- Being the object of obscene gestures.
Do not engage other drivers.
Avoid engaging other drivers, even if they have done something to make you angry or vice versa. Put as much distance between you and the other driver as possible and avoid making eye contact. Never pull off the roadway to confront another driver.
Change your attitude and approaches to driving.
Avoid creating a competitive situation with another driver, even if they are at fault. In the end, it is a lose/lose situation that can cost you your life. Try not to take another person’s bad driving personally. Their problems on and off the road have nothing to do with you.
Keeping your anger in check.
When someone is upset or under stress, sometimes all it takes is something trivial to set a person on a course to road rage. These things might include excessive vehicle horn noise, someone taking too long to move at a green light or loud music from another vehicle. But none of these minor annoyances is worth putting you or others at risk. The following tips should help you avoid having a stressful time behind the wheel:
- Learn to manage the stress in your life,
- Try to avoid driving when you are angry,
- Allow plenty of time to get where you are going,
- Listen to traffic and weather reports to learn of traffic delays, and
- Listen to soothing music while driving.
If you suspect another driver is targeting you for an act of road rage or you are being followed, go to a safe place such as a police, fire or gas station where there are people. If you have a car phone, call the police immediately. DO NOT drive home!
Daily Traffic Mission
It is responsibility of all drivers and pedestrians to observe all traffic laws as described in the California Vehicle Code; and the daily mission of uniformed officers to ensure the safe movement of traffic and to enforce the Primary Collision Factors that cause traffic collisions.
In recent years, the City of Los Angeles has experienced some exciting changes in the area of public transportation. With the implementation of the Metrolink passenger trains, the Metrorail lines, and the ongoing Metropolitan Transit Authority bus services, the transportation needs of many have been accommodated. Despite the accessibility of these resources the ever-changing demographics of the City have prompted more and more citizens to walk and use their personal vehicles as the two primary modes of transportation. Therefore, traffic safety issues continue to be a fundamental concern among law enforcement personnel and community members.
Most traffic collisions occurring in the City of Los Angeles involve five factors, which are all violations of the California Vehicle Code. They are:
- Vehicle speed violations,
- Red light violations,
- Right-of-way violations,
- Pedestrians violations, and
- Driving-Under-the-Influence (DUI).
It is the objective of this circular to bring awareness to personnel and citizens about these traffic safety issues by offering solutions to help combat the factors that cause traffic collisions in your Areas and communities.
The Combination Effect (Speed, Red Light, and Right-of-Way)
It is important to remember that the five collision factors listed above often work together to create traffic safety hazards.
In recent years, with the availability of technological advantages such as radar devices, law enforcement agencies have made great strides in combating speeding motorists. However, speeding still remains a significant traffic safety problem. Studies have shown that drivers who speed tend to run red lights more than those who do not speed. A study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety of more than 4,500 traffic collisions found that speed was a contributing factor in over 1,300 incidents in which either a red light or left turn violation was the primary cause of the collision. Overall, speeding increases the likelihood of having a traffic collision and actually heightens the severity of the collision itself. It is obvious that speeding combined with additional violations presents a volatile traffic condition.
Pedestrians at Risk
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, more than 100,000 pedestrians are involved in motor vehicle crashes nationwide each year and, during recent years, more than 5,000 pedestrians per year have died. Collisions involving pedestrians are most likely to occur in urban areas where pedestrian activity is most concentrated. Children are most likely to be struck; however, they are less likely to die than their elderly pedestrian counterparts. Many pedestrian collisions are a result of a pedestrian darting out unexpectedly from the side of the roadway in front of oncoming traffic.
It is common knowledge that alcohol impairment contributes to traffic collisions; however, most people believe that drivers must be "drunk" to be a considered a hazard behind the wheel. The fact is the probability of a collision increases with any driver who has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) higher than zero, and this probability dramatically increases when a driver’s BAC reaches 0.08 percent. Although a person may appear sober, even if they have consumed any amount of alcohol, their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle has been impaired. The BAC levels describe the concentration of alcohol in a person’s blood expressed as weight per unit of volume (i.e., at 0.10 percent BAC, there is a concentration of 100 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood). Although alcohol-related collisions tend to peak at night and during the weekend, they can and do occur at all hours of the day, and involve individuals from all walks of life.
Officer & Community Responsibilities
It is the responsibility of each and every uniformed officer to enforce violations of the California Vehicle Code, educate citizens on the importance of traffic safety, and make every effort to remove alcohol impaired drivers from City streets. These efforts, combined with the active participation of community members following the rules of the road and practicing good traffic safety habits, will help ensure the safety of motorists throughout the City.