Aggressive driving in Virginia made national headlines last year when a dangerous highway drama unfolded on Interstate 95, where two drivers were "driving aggressively toward one another during the morning rush hour. One motorist was in a sport utility vehicle, while the other was in a pickup truck. When one driver moved to change lanes, the two vehicles collided. One vehicle spun out, striking the patrol car of a state trooper who was completing a traffic stop.
One of the drivers and her passenger were injured, as was the trooper. Both drivers were charged with reckless driving, The Washington Post reported.
The majority of people have driven aggressively at least at some point, though there are some who drive aggressively on a regular basis. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines aggressive driving as the operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger people or property. The agency opines a significant portion of the 6.8 million annual reported accidents can be attributed to aggressive driving.
The Code of Virginia 46.2-868-1 views aggressive driving to mean one or more of the following violations:
- Failure to observe lanes marked for traffic (46.2-804)
- Following too closely (46.2-833.1)
- Speeding (46.2-870)
- Evasion of traffic control devices (46.2-833.1)
Aggressive driving is considered a Class 2 misdemeanor in Virginia, though if law enforcement determines there was intent to injure, it will be punished as a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Aside from these criminal penalties, violators may find they are liable to cover damages to any person they injure or to loved ones of anyone killed. Virginia is a "fault" state when it comes to car accidents, meaning the at-fault driver is liable to pay damages, including medical expenses and lost wages. Owners of vehicles in Virginia are required to purchase a minimum policy that offers 25/50/20 - or bodily injury coverage of a minimum $25,000 per person, $50,000 per crash and $20,000 for all property damage claims in a single crash. If this amount will not cover the total extent of damages incurred in a crash, the at-fault driver would be personally responsible to pay the rest.
In aggressive driving incidents, it's not uncommon for one party to flee. If that individual is not caught, the injured parties would be reliant on their own uninsured motorist coverage. Code of Virginia 38.2-2206 requires that uninsured motorist coverage be offered with every liability insurance policy. Uninsured motorist limits are to equal but not exceed those of liability.
Recently, reporters with WSLS-10 conducted an analysis of the most dangerous intersections in Roanoke County, as evidence by the number of collisions on site. As our Roanoke accident attorneys noted, the catalyst for so many of these collisions was aggressive driving. The worst-ranked intersections included:
- Electric Road and Elm View Road, the site of 55 crashes since 2013, including 15 resulting in injuries;
- Cloverdale Road and Challenger Avenue, the site of 59 crashes since 2013, including 15 resulting in injuries.
A Roanoke County Police Department sergeant was quoted as saying, "A lot of it is from speeding. People driving aggressively and not being patient for other drivers."
Officers say they are prioritizing catching aggressive drivers in their patrols, and the Department of Transportation recently installed flashing beacons and right turn lanes warning drivers to use caution along the county's main thoroughfare, Route 419.