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Bruce Gordon, Director of Communications
Nathan Bowie  (651) 201-7571
Stephanie Kaufenberg  (651) 201-7566
July 30, 2012
When Drivers See Red: Tips to Dealing with Aggressive Drivers
State Patrol Releases Aggressive Driving Video; MnDOT Aggressive Driving PSA to Air

ST. PAUL — Tailgating, unsafe passing, running lights and weaving in and out of traffic are typical traits of aggressive drivers that can turn roads deadly. The Department of Public Safety (DPS) and Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) are providing tips for motorists when confronted by an aggressive driver following a statewide July speed enforcement campaign. 

The aggressive driving education effort is a component of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) initiative. TZD is the state’s cornerstone traffic safety program that is a partnership between DPS, MnDOT, Department of Health (MDH), Minnesota Emergency Medical Services Board and other traffic safety partners.

Last year, common aggressive driving behaviors resulted in 61 deaths and 6,791 injuries. In 2011, the State Patrol took enforcement action on 5,527 incidents of careless and reckless driving, following too closely and unsafe lane change/change of course.

Traits of aggressive drivers also include honking, screaming at motorists, as well as making hand gestures. Traffic safety officials say aggressive driving can turn to road rage, when such behaviors result in actual physical or vehicle-to-vehicle altercations.

“The key when encountering an aggressive driver is to stay calm and do not engage with or respond to them,” says Donna Berger, director of DPS Office of Traffic Safety. “Remember, getting to your destination safely and protecting you and your passengers are the goal.”

What to Do When Encountering an Aggressive Driver

  • Get out of their way.
  • Stay calm.
  • Do not challenge them.
  • Avoid eye contact.
  • Ignore gestures and don’t return them.
  • Be buckled up. A seat belt is important to maintain proper seating position in the case of abrupt driving maneuvers.
  • Report aggressive driving: Call 911 and provide vehicle description, license plate number and location.
New MnDOT TV Spot Addresses Aggressive Driving
To support the education of aggressive driving, MnDOT is airing a TV spot and launched a new website, on behalf of Minnesota’s TZD  initiative.

“We’re showing aggressive behavior in a context other than driving to help motorists identify behavior that is unacceptable in social situations, but that we see on the road,” says Sue Groth, director of MnDOT’s Office of Traffic, Safety and Technology.
July Speed Enforcement
Results of a month-long increased speed enforcement campaign in July will be announced in early August.

The dangers of speeding include greater potential for loss of vehicle control; increased stopping distance; less time available for driver response for crash avoidance;  and increased crash severity leading to more numerous and severe injuries.
An average speeding citation for 10 mph over the limit is typically more than $120. Motorists stopped at 20 mph over the speed limit face double the fine, and those ticketed traveling more than 100 mph can lose their license for six months.
About the Office of Traffic Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) designs, implements, and coordinates federally funded traffic safety enforcement and education programs to improve driver behaviors and reduce the deaths and serious injuries that occur on Minnesota roads.  OTS also administers state funds for the motorcycle safety program and for the child seats for needy families program.
OTS is an anchoring partner of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths traffic safety initiative. A primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes — education, enforcement, engineering and emergency trauma response.
OTS Highlights
  • OTS issued the 2011 Minnesota Motor Vehicle Crash Facts report, citing 368 traffic deaths for the year, the lowest since 1944 and a 44 percent reduction in deaths from a decade ago.
  • OTS recognized the state’s DWI Enforcer All-Stars at Target Field June 25. The leading DWI enforcer is Minnesota State Patrol Trooper Mark Hibbard with 241 DWI arrests in 2011.
  • July 1 marked one year of the state’s ignition interlock DWI sanction. Nearly 3,000 DWI offenders are using interlock to benefit road safety and ensure legal, sober driving.
  • Media are encouraged to download and broadcast/place OTS public service announcements OTS public service announcements to advance road safety.
  • Media are encouraged to localize traffic safety news by referencing county-specific fact sheets.
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