Aggressive Driving Defined

Define Aggressive Driving


As law enforcement agencies develop their programs, they should define aggressive driving based on their state laws, customs and practices by the agency, and by the public’s understanding.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines aggressive driving as, “when individuals commit a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.” Some other communities define aggressive driving as “the operation of a motor vehicle involving three or more moving violations as part of a single continuous sequence of driving acts, which is likely to endanger any person or property.”

To avoid conflict with the term road rage, departments should clearly identify that issue and train their officers to use the correct terminology during the program as well as during traffic stops and public information opportunities. Road rage differs from aggressive driving. It is a criminal offense and is “an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger(s) of one motor vehicle on the operator or passenger(s) of another motor vehicle or is caused by an incident that occurred on a roadway.”

Some behaviors typically associated with aggressive driving include: exceeding the posted speed limit, following too closely, erratic or unsafe lane changes, improperly signaling lane changes, failure to obey traffic control devices (stop signs, yield signs, traffic signals, railroad grade cross signals, etc.). Law enforcement agencies should include red light running as part of their definition of aggressive driving. NHTSA calls the act of red light running as one of the most dangerous forms of aggressive driving.