Montgomery County commuters might want to think twice next week before speeding up to cut off the slow-moving car ahead.
When Montgomery County’s "Smooth Operator" initiative begins on Sunday, the Montgomery County Police Department will specifically target aggressive drivers with an educational/enforcement campaign to stop unsafe behaviors.
"The goal is to alert the community to the problems of aggressive driving," said Lucille Baur, spokesperson for Montgomery County. "People are in a hurry, they tend to speed, tend to change lanes frequently, tend to tailgate — these are all aggressive driving behaviors. A person can be just caught up in their own personal stress and not even be thinking that they're breaking the law, they're just so focused on getting where they want to be quickly."
The Smooth Operator initiative continues through Saturday, June 9. Police officers will be on the look out for drivers exhibiting the following behaviors:
- Failure to obey lane designation
- Failing to yield right of way
- Running red lights and stop signs
- Overtaking and passing a vehicle
- Passing on the right
Each of these actions constitutes a ticket, according to MCPD spokesperson Rebecca Innocenti. If a patrol officers sees three or more of these behaviors, a driver can be penalized with an extra aggressive driving charge, which carries a fine of $370 and five points on a drivers license, Innocenti said.
In 2011, nearly 14,500 tickets were issued to drivers exhibiting one or more aggressive driving behaviors, and just over 1,000 aggressive driving charges were also issued, according to Capt. Thomas Didone of the MCPD traffic department.
While it takes three instances of aggressive driving behaviors to be penalized with the additional fine, oftentimes officers won't wait for a third violation to pull someone over. "We rarely evaluate three or more violations," Didone said. "Normally officers start writing tickets at two [violations]."
It's not just Montgomery County that will participate in the initiative. Metro-area police departments, including other Maryland jurisdictions, Northern Virginia, Pennsylvania and the District, will be on the look out for aggressive behaviors too.
"We take aggressive driving very seriously," Didone said. "It's these dangerous behaviors that are causing people to lose their lives and have dangerous crashes. Summers are very dangerous times — a lot of people out on the road and we're working to help them drive safely."
This story was updated Friday, June 1.