Texas to drivers: Chill

| 3/14/2002

It's a good idea to keep your cool if you happen to be driving near San Antonio or New Braunfels, TX. The Texas Department of Public Safety announced details of the DPS Road Rage Task Force - a pilot program in operation since Oct. 2001.

Troopers in and around those cities have patrolled major highways using an undercover vehicle that videotapes traffic infractions. Information on the offender then goes by radio to troopers in marked vehicles who make traffic stops and issue tickets.

Under the program, cars and commercial trucks are subject to surveillance.

Highway Patrol Captain Joe Hamilton, who oversees troopers in the San Antonio area, says not enough data is available to create a meaningful analysis of who typical offenders are.

However, "We have not noticed any significant violation from trucks," he said. The goal of the program, he adds, is to achieve "traffic safety and compliance."

Hamilton said offenses that trigger action are drivers who change lanes without signaling, follow too closely or speed. Speeding accounted for about 51 percent of all tickets issued under the program; failure to signal lane change made up about 34 percent of tickets; and 14 percent of those cited were following too closely.

Hamilton said he hopes the program will be permanent.

"This task force is an effective way to make an impact on the behaviors that lead to road rage and, in some cases, to traffic crashes. We're pleased with the success we're having, and we'd like to expand it," Hamilton said.
-- by Dick Larsen, senior editor