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Although our proposed definition of aggressive driving is conditional upon not only a driver’s observable actions but also his or her intentions, no information about drivers’ intentions is available in the data analyzed. As discussed previously, any of these behaviors could be performed willfully, in which they would be indicative of aggressive driving as defined herein; however, many of them could also be performed accidentally, in which case they arguably should not be taken as indications of aggressive driving. For example, if a driver purposefully violates a traffic signal or fails to yield right-of-way due to an aggressive motivation, this would constitute aggressive driving; however, the same action should not be classified as aggressive if the driver simply failed to notice a traffic signal or failed to recognize the right-of-way of another road user, but without any aggressive intent or willful disregard for safety. This would be a serious error, but would not be appropriate to categorize as aggressive driving. Therefore, the driver-related contributing factors listed here are referred to hereafter as potentially- aggressive actions.

The following driver-related contributing factors in FARS were taken as indications that crashes may have involved aggressive driving.*

  • Following improperly

  • Improper or erratic lane changing

  • Illegal driving on road shoulder, in ditch, or on sidewalk or median

  • Passing where prohibited by posted signs, pavement markings, hill or curve, or school bus displaying warning not to pass, passing on wrong side, passing with insufficient distance or inadequate visibility or failing to yield to overtaking vehicle

  • Operating the vehicle in an erratic, reckless, careless, or negligent manner or suddenly changing speeds

  • Failure to yield right of way

  • Failure to obey traffic signs, traffic control devices, or traffic officers, failure to observe safety zone traffic laws

  • Failure to observe warnings or instructions on vehicle displaying them

  • Failure to signal

  • Driving too fast for conditions or in excess of posted speed limit

  • Racing

  • Making an improper turn

The frequency with which each of these factors was coded in fatal crashes was analyzed using FARS data from 2003 through 2007.



The factors summarized in this list represent FARS driver-related contributing factors 26, 27, 29, 33, 34, 35, 36, 38, 39, 41, 42, 44, 46, 47, and 48.


© 2009, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

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