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FHP: Aggressive driving only getting worse

Each week, 8 On Your Side's Meredyth Censullo responds to commuter complaints in her "Road Rants" report. For the next few weeks, however, News Channel 8 is asking law enforcement officers what their biggest complaints are.

According to troopers with Florida Highway Patrol Troop C, which covers most of the Tampa Bay area, aggressive driving gets them hot under the collar.

Aggressive driving includes, but isn't limited to, speeding, tailgating, and weaving through traffic. It's not rare for the FHP to receive four or five reports of aggressive driving each hour during the morning and evening commutes. 

Sometimes, flaring tempers become violent.

"We've had people using the car as the weapon, as a battering ram," says Sergeant Steve Gaskins. Troop 3 spokesman.

"Guns come out, bullets go flying down the road," Sgt. Gaskins adds.

According to the Florida Department of Transportation's 2018 Highway Safety Plan, between 2011-2015, 7,190 traffic crashes were attributed to aggressive driving, and of those, 1,873 involved fatalities.

The safety plan also allocated grants to several law enforcement agencies for programs to target speeding and aggressive driving. Agencies receiving money in the Tampa Bay area include the City of Tampa, Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, New Port Richey Police, Bradenton Police, and the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. 

The FHP has this advice for drivers on the receiving end of aggression: create distance from the other driver, and don't give the 'evil eye,' hand gestures, flash your lights, or tailgate.

"Your windows shouldn't come down, so that you can yell at the other driver, because you could produce a response you might not be ready for," says Sgt. Gaskins.

If you encounter an aggressive driver, all *347 (*FHP), which works statewide. Once you provide details to the dispatcher, local law enforcement agencies will be notified to be on the lookout.

Contact Meredyth with your Road Rants by emailing mcensullo@wfla.com, or on Facebook at WFLAMeredyth.

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