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Dealing With Aggressive Drivers

A public service posting from the State of New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety.

Examples of aggressive driving include tailgating, improper passing, flashing lights to move the driver ahead, speeding, cutting drivers off, hand gestures, weaving through traffic and honking horns.

There are ways to deal with aggressive drivers without upsetting them or causing yourself harm. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Make every attempt to get out of their way.
  • Do not challenge them.
  • Avoid eye contact.
  • Do not make or return gestures.
  • Do not block the passing lane, and avoid switching lanes without signaling.
  • Do not tailgate.
  • Allow plenty of time for your trip.
  • Stay away from drivers behaving erratically.

New Jersey motorists can also help by recording the license number of the aggressive driver and reporting them to a new toll- free number, 1-888-723-7623. This number has been put in place to combat aggressive and other unsafe drivers. The call goes to a central State Police operator who then routes the call to a municipality near where the call is coming from.

In addition, the law enforcement community is using semi-marked police cars to fight aggressive drivers. The prototype vehicles do not have the traditional light bar on its roof, so it is not easily recognized in the rear-view mirror of a car. Law enforcement officials believe that not being able to distinguish who is really driving behind you may cause aggressive drivers to think twice before violating motor vehicle laws.

There are serious penalties for aggressive driving in New Jersey. If you receive a ticket for tailgating, or if you are found guilty of reckless driving, you will receive five points on your motor vehicle driving record. You may also be found guilty of careless driving and receive an additional two points.

The Division of Motor Vehicles also charges a surcharge of $100 for drivers with up to six points for a three-year period and $25 for each additional point. Insurance companies may have additional surcharges, as well.

Drivers must realize that aggressive driving is a serious problem. A 3,000 pound vehicle in the hands of a hostile driver is a lethal weapon.

Following these simple steps can save lives and prevent motor vehicle crashes on our roadways. Motorists must take the necessary steps to prevent themselves from becoming victims of aggressive drivers.

The writers are:

Colonel Peter J. O'Hagan, USMCR, Ret., is Director of the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety and a member of the National Association of Governor's Highway Safety Representatives.

Colonel Carl A. Williams is Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.

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