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Smooth Operator—Taming Aggressive Drivers

Aggressive Driving

Smooth Operator describes "aggressive driving" as a combination of unsafe and unlawful actions that demonstrate a conscious and willful disregard for safety. The following offenses are included: running red lights and stop signs; following too closely, or tailgating; changing lanes unsafely; failing to yield the right of way; improper passing; and speeding.

Most importantly, aggressive driving will cost you. Running red lights and stop signs, unsafe lane changes, and tailgating will get you pulled over—resulting in big penalties and points. Law enforcement in DC, Maryland and Virginia are getting tough on aggressive drivers, to make our roads safer. So lighten up at the wheel. Because if you're driving in a hurry, angry, and act like you own the road, you're going to get caught.

Smooth Operator Enforcement

Each year, dozens of law enforcement agencies from the District, Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania cooperate in intensive, one- to two-week aggressive driving enforcement "waves" - one each month from June through September. These special enforcement waves are in addition to their everyday traffic safety efforts.

Smooth Operator is also supported by many other local government agencies, as well as organizations from the private sector. And enforcement efforts are complemented by a comprehensive public education campaign that includes radio ads and transit posters.

Since Smooth Operator began in 1997, close to 1 million citations for aggressive driving have been issued by participating law enforcement agencies during the special enforcement waves. Citations have nearly quadrupled during this time period - from 62,000 in 1997 to more than 238,000 in 2002. In 2005, DC alone was responsible for nearly 92,000 citations. As enforcement and public education activities have increased, public awareness of Smooth Operator has also doubled: from 38 percent in 2000 to approximately 80 percent in recent years.

 10 Basic Rules of Courtesy and Safety

  • Always allow extra travel time. Traffic congestion–and the delays it causes–are among the primary factors that lead motorists to drive aggressively. By leaving extra travel time, you will be less inclined to drive aggressively in order to make up for time lost in congestion.
  • Maintain an adequate distance from the vehicle in front of you so you're able to stop in time to avoid a collision. A "safe distance" depends on a variety of factors: weather, road conditions, time of day, and speed limit. In general, you should maintain one car-length between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you for every 10 mph of speed.
  • Always signal your intentions to other drivers when turning and changing lanes.
  • Always come to a full stop at red lights and stop signs. Don't run yellow lights.
  • Let other drivers merge with you.
  • Obey posted speed limits.
  • Concentrate on your driving–not on your cell phone, stereo, passengers, or other distractions.
  • Use your horn sparingly, only to remind other drivers of your presence.
  • Never engage in inappropriate behavior such as making faces or rude or obscene gestures.
  • Extend common courtesy to other drivers at all times.

Smooth Operator Resources