Driving is not a competitive activity but a cooperative one. However, far too often drivers are putting others at risk by speeding, tailgating, unsafe passing, running lights, and weaving in and out of traffic. These are typical traits of aggressive drivers. Fortunately there are things motorists in the Brainerd Lakes Area can do in case they encounter one: 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), and report aggressive driving (be prepared to provide vehicle description, license number and location).
Aggressive driving can turn to road rage, when 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. Always remember that getting to your destination safely is your goal.
Unsafe and illegal speed is the most commonly reported contributing factor in fatal crashes. During 2008-2011, speed was a contributing factor in four fatalities in Crow Wing County and 254 traffic deaths statewide. The Crow Wing County Passenger Safety Coalition cites 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. Motorists are advised to keep at least a three-second following distance; as it takes more than the length of a football field to stop when traveling at 60 miles per hour. Motorists are encouraged to plan ahead for trips to avoid the urge to speed and “arrive alive” at your destination.
This March marks the 10 year anniversary of the Crow Wing County Passenger Safety Coalition. Since 2003 the Coalition has been working with local law enforcement agencies throughout Crow Wing County in an effort to educate the public and raise awareness working towards making the roadways safer for all people who reside here or are traveling through. Beginning in March law enforcement agencies will be conducting “speed weeks” through Sept. 30 where focus will be on enforcement and education efforts. On behalf of the coalition, we urge motorists to slow down, buckle up, and remember that driving is not a competition.
(JD Berns is a member of the Crow Wing County Passenger Safety Coalition.)