Aggressive drivers targeted

July 16, 2013
This sign along Route 19 at McClelland Road in North Strabane Township is one of several warning motorists about a crackdown on aggressive driving. - Kathie O. Warco / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

If you are one of those drivers who like to ride the bumper of the vehicle in front or weave in and out of traffic at breakneck speeds, consider this your warning: State and local police will have you in their sights as they crack down on aggressive drivers.

Through Aug. 15, police will focus their efforts on these drivers using a variety of tools, including message signs and boards to alert drivers of the special enforcement. Aggressive driving behaviors include running red lights, speeding and tailgating.

It seems that North Strabane Township police get calls daily about aggressive drivers on Route 19, said Sgt. David Richards.

“A driver calls 911 after they’ve been cut off or had another driver make an obscene gesture at them,” Richards said. “Drivers need to slow down and allow space between cars.”

With driver’s education programs at local high schools a thing of the past in many districts, Richards said many young drivers are lacking the education about what to do when they are behind the wheel.

“Most of them are getting the education from their parents,” Richards added. “A lot of them are learning the hard way. They need to learn patience and not do dangerous acts.”

Richards said drivers should expect to see township officers out at different times throughout the day and night as part of the enforcement.

Peters Township police Capt. Michael Yanchak said patience is the key for drivers.

“Years ago when I started driving, there was no such thing as road rage,” Yanchak said. “That is a term that has only recently been coined.”

Peters police always enforce traffic laws, Yanchak said, but drivers can expect to see more patrol cars out on the road looking for aggressive driving behavior, like following too closely, improper lane changes without signaling and speeding.

“Hopefully that will get the message out that aggressive driving is not worth it,” he added.

Much of the enforcement efforts will focus on the Route 19 corridor through Washington County and into Allegheny County, said Jay Ofsanik, safety press officer for the state Department of Transportation’s District 12.

“A lot of people take Route 19 to get from Washington to Pittsburgh,” Ofsanik said. “It is a major corridor.”

South Strabane Township police Chief Don Zofchak said his officers will also focus their effort on Route 19 and the feeder roads.

In Cecil Township, officers will focus on routes 50 and 980. Township police Detective Mark Marcucci said officers are seeing more traffic in those areas due to trucks from the gas industry and employees for the gas-related companies with offices in Southpointe.

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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