Program targets aggressive drivers
By KIRK SWAUGER
SOMERSET — Aggressive drivers, beware.
State and borough police are targeting speeding, tailgating, running red lights and other dangerous driving behaviors under a federal program designed to combat aggressive motorists through enforcement and education.
Using crash data, police are concentrating on Edgewood and Center avenues, Route 31 and Felgar and Husband roads in the Somerset area, state police Cpl. William Link said Tuesday.
“We’re hoping that by targeting these areas to get people to slow down, they’ll maintain those good habits on other roads,” Link said.
The “Smooth Operator” campaign, which provides federal reimbursement for the patrols, is a partnership between law-enforcement agencies in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
More than 32,000 citations and warnings were issued to motorists in the state in last year’s campaign.
Aggressive driving is defined as careless disregard for other motorists, including speeding, tailgating, unsafe lane changes, running red lights and stop signs, passing improperly and failing to yield the right of way to other traffic.
Link said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that aggressive drivers are responsible for two-thirds of fatal crashes and about 35 percent of all wrecks.
The program will run through March 15 in the Somerset area.
“I wish we could do the same thing on other roadways that are just as much of a problem with crashes,” Link said. “It’s not only about speeding – it’s about speed and passing; passing on hills; passing on turns; speed and tailgating.”
Borough police Chief Randy Cox said more officers will be on the streets. He said the federal program reimburses departments for the salaries and other costs for officers participating in the campaign.
“It’s not that we’re doing anything differently than we would do any other time,” he said.