Putting the brakes on aggressive drivers

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Beginning Monday, PennDOT, Punxsutawney Borough Police and Pennsylvania State Police are targeting aggressive drivers in an effort that runs through March 27.

Shawn Houck, PennDOT District 10 safety officer, said Monday that PennDOT is supporting a statewide crackdown on aggressive driving as part of this year’s distribution of nearly $2.1 million in federal funds, which supports police efforts to reduce the number of aggressive-driving crashes.

Now through March 27, the Punxsutawney and Brookville police departments, along with Punxsutawney-based Pennsylvania State Police, will participate in the first of three waves of this year’s aggressive-driving enforcement effort.

Houck said there are several different driving behaviors that the police will target in the enforcement of aggressive driving, behaviors that include running red lights, tailgating and improper lane changes.

“These are the characteristics that people ask themselves when they see someone driving aggressively: ‘Where are the police?’” Houck said. “We’re putting the police now in the right places where we’ve seen an increase in aggressive driving crashes to stop these people.”

Houck said the overall goal is to save lives, and the aggressive drivers are the ones they want to get off the road because they put everyone else at risk.

PennDOT’s investment will pay for the enforcement participation of more than 300 municipal police departments and the Pennsylvania State Police (overtime and other associated costs) around the state.

In Armstrong, Butler, Clarion, Indiana and Jefferson counties, 16 municipal police departments and three state police troops will target 29 roadways for this enforcement based on aggressive-driving related crash data. 

Punxsutawney Borough Police Chief Tom Fedigan, Brookville Borough Police Officer Justin Miller and Pennsylvania State Police Trooper David Kostok attended Monday’s meeting.

Houck said statewide, participating police departments wrote 154,642 aggressive-driving related citations last year, including 73,108 for speeding.

Disobedience of traffic control devices or signs was the second most-common offense, resulting in 36,136 citations. 

The extra traffic enforcement also resulted in 171 felony arrests, 1,683 driving under the influence arrests and 553 drug-related arrests.