Two years ago this month, New York saw a record high number of speed-related car accident fatalities. One year later, state officials announced a Speed Week enforcement campaign. Speed Week is a statewide effort to crack down on one of the most widespread forms of unsafe driving. During last year’s campaign, police issued at least 21,000 tickets. While not all of those tickets were for speeding, it is usually a safe bet that the majority of traffic enforcement efforts are geared toward stopping this behavior.
The Many Faces Of Aggressive Driving
Road rage is a particular aspect of aggressive driving. It is the extreme version of a behavior that many people exhibit at one level or another. Speeding and tailgating are the more common forms of aggressive driving. They are unsafe practices. They contribute to countless motor vehicle accidents. But despite the damage they cause, these forms of aggressive driving are generally accepted. It is the rare drive that does not involve seeing one or more motorists engaging in these behaviors.
The Wrong Attitude
Making the roads safer requires more than changes to the law or law enforcement. It is often the collective attitudes of drivers that must be changed to make progress. Drivers have different attitudes about drunk driving today than they did 50 years ago. A problem like distracted driving was barely considered a safety issue even 20 years ago. Too many drivers consider speeding an acceptable practice, some even regarding it as a safety enhancer.
Speed Week might serve to inconvenience a small percentage of aggressive drivers. They will grumble about their tickets and maybe even slow down for a few weeks or months. But how many will consider whether speeding is ever an acceptable practice?
Most people who speed might shave a minute or two off of their drive time. Getting pulled over once is probably enough to offset the time savings of an entire year of speeding. Causing a serious accident will offset the time savings of several lifetimes of speeding. Given the number of deaths tied to the behavior, it would be good if more drivers considered the possibility that driving the posted speed limit might be the right way to go.