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E-M:/ Aggressive Driving Linked to Sprawl



March 8, 1999
For Immediate Release Contact: Arlin Wasserman
 616-271-3683
Aggressive Driving Deaths Linked to Sprawl
National Study Finds Michigan Highest Among Great Lakes States
BEZONIA — Cities with the highest number of deaths from aggressive
driving are usually newer, sprawling communities where cars are the only
way to get around, according to a new study by the Surface
Transportation Policy Project. The report, Aggressive Driving: Are You
at Risk?, also found that 759 people died in aggressive driving crashes
in Michigan in 1996, resulting in an aggressive driving death rate of
7.9 per 100,000 residents, the highest rate of any Great Lakes state.
 “The endless subdivisions and strip malls that can only be reached in a
car are a breeding ground for frustration,” said Arlin Wasserman, Policy
Specialist at the Michigan Land Use Institute, which is participating in
the report’s national release. “Because of how new development is
occurring, we’re spending more time in our cars driving farther and
farther and getting frustrated because we don’t have enough time left
for everything else. Driving is now another chore to be finished as
quickly as possible, and that can lead to aggressive behavior.”
 Mr. Wassermann added: “This study shows that we can fight aggressive
driving by building our communities so everyone has the chance to take a
break from driving.”
 The study by the Washington-based Surface Transportation Policy Project
found a statistically significant relationship between places with high
aggressive driving death rates and low use of buses, trains, walking,
and biking. Residents in places with lower transit use were 61 percent
more likely to die in an aggressive driving crash than people who live
in areas where more people take the train or bus. The report will be
discussed at a White House event with the Vice President at noon on
Monday March 8th, where Mr. Gore will be making a related livability
announcement.
 Within Michigan, the STPP study found that Muskegon had the highest
death rate, with 12.6 deaths per 100,000 residents. It was followed
closely by Saginaw with 9.4 deaths per 100,000 residents and Kalamazoo
with 8.6 deaths per 100,000 residents.
 These deaths rates exceeded those in older, more congested communities.
Aggressive driving accidents on congested roadways are less likely to
turn deadly because cars are traveling at much lower speeds.
 Nationwide, the highest death rate was found in Riverside-San
Bernardino California, with 13.4 deaths per 100,000 residents. It was
followed by Tampa, Phoenix, Orlando, Miami, Las Vegas, Ft. Lauderdale,
Dallas, Kansas City, and San Antonio. Most of these regions have weak
transit systems and sprawling subdivision development that keeps people
in their cars.
 The metro areas with the lowest number of aggressive driving deaths
were Boston, with 2.1 deaths per 100,000, followed by New York,
Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, and Norfolk-Virginia Beach Virginia. These
places tend to have more convenient neighborhoods where people can walk
to the corner store, send kids to school on their bikes, or choose to
take the bus or train to work.
 In an effort to curb dangerous driving, Michigan state Sen. William Van
Regenmorter has proposed the Criminal Road Endangerment Bill (S.B. 287)
which establishes higher penalties for reckless and aggressive driving.
The bill is pending before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
 Mr. Wasserman said S.B. 287 may provide a short term fix, but people
rarely stop and think about the legal consequences before using their
car recklessly.
 In order to prevent aggressive driving, the state must take a
leadership role in transportation and community planning. “The Michigan
Department of Transportation is implementing a five  year plan to meet
our travel needs through building new roads and widening existing roads.
It directs funding to the types of projects likely to increase
aggressive driving. The plan offers virtually no transportation choices
other than driving to Michigan residents nor does it make any effort to
relieve congestion by reducing the demand for driving.”
 The Michigan Land Use Institute, which is managing a statewide project
to find less expensive and damaging alternatives to new roads, is
seeking to reform how the state spends public funds for transportation.
More investments need to be made to encourage alternatives such as
walking, carpooling and increased public transportation.
 The state Transportation Department also has a role in encouraging
communities to ease congestion through better land use planning. By
ensuring new development is friendlier to pedestrians and well served by
public transportation, MDOT can reduce reliance on cars and save
enormous sums of money that would have been spent on new roads.
 The report can be found on the STPP website at www.transact.org.

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