GAO: DOT needs strategy for fighting aggressive driving

The Department of Transportation should develop a strategy for using its resources and expertise to fight aggressive driving by automobile and truck drivers, the Government Accountability Office said. In a just-released report, GAO said that DOT’s Share the Road Safely pilot program conducted in 2004 and 2005 in Washington State showed promise, but that it’s unclear how the department will proceed.

The Washington State program, known as Ticketing Aggressive Cars and Trucks, or TACT, combined education, such as highway message signs, and high-visibility law enforcement to reduce aggressive driving. With the oversight of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, TACT received about $892,000 in federal and state funds and was generally modeled on successful behavior modification programs, such as the Click It or Ticket program to encourage safety belt use. TACT was more complex to implement, however, since many behaviors constitute aggressive driving and Washington State lacked a single aggressive driving law, GAO said.

An evaluation conducted by DOT and Washington State officials found that TACT significantly reduced the number and severity of unsafe driving acts near or by trucks. FMCSA plans to development more TACT-like initiatives, but lacks resources and experience to do so, GAO said. In addition, the agency plans to spend most of its current funding on educational initiatives, which lack information showing whether they improve driver behavior. FMCSA is developing a TACT-like pilot in Pennsylvania and plans to roll out initiatives similar to TACT nationally by 2009.

Despite these plans, FMCSA has few people dedicated to education and outreach, and it lacks the experience that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has with behavior modification initiatives. Meanwhile, NHTSA’s role in Share the Road Safely is still evolving.

For a copy of the GAO report, click here.