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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation
FHWA Highway Safety Programs

Speeding and Aggressive Driving and Distracted Driving Task Forces – Louisiana

Louisiana published their original Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) in September 2006. Using the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) SHSP as a point of departure, the State examined data and identified 11 high-priority emphasis areas with the most promise for driving down the human and economic costs of crashes. In 2009 Louisiana began the process of updating the SHSP with one of the primary stated objectives to “narrow the focus of the SHSP to the areas of greatest need and potential for success as identified through a detailed data analysis process.”

The update process included examination of the data and outreach to safety stakeholders. While attempting to narrow the focus, a careful look at the data revealed some difficulties in assessing the nature and true extent of two of the original emphasis areas – speeding and aggressive driving, and distracted driving. Aggressive driving is a difficult concept to define and involves several typical violations associated with driver behavior. The most often cited violation in aggressive driving crashes is “careless operation.” The 2005 crash report form introduced a new variable addressing distracted driving. However, in many cases, looking closer at the data revealed the factors contributing to distraction were often recorded as “unknown.”

The SHSP Implementation Team recognized aggressive driving and distracted driving represent significant safety problems. However, the Team believed a pragmatic and beneficial approach would be to establish task forces to examine these issues in greater depth before they could conduct the necessary emphasis area level analysis. This resulted in the creation of two Task Forces with the following roles:

  • Determine infraction definitions, i.e., develop a definition that can be used by law enforcement, the judiciary, etc.;
  • Review the literature and research to identify effective countermeasures;
  • Review current practice and laws to determine and propose changes;
  • Participate in quarterly SHSP implementation team meetings; and
  • Report findings to the Executive Committee and Implementation Team.

By establishing the task forces on aggressive driving and distracted driving, Louisiana maintained a data-driven approach to defining SHSP emphasis areas with the greatest potential to reduce fatalities and serious injuries while acknowledging the potential significance of such topics.

Logo - Louisiana DOTD's Strategic Highway Safety Plan logo, Destination Zero Deaths.

Key Accomplishments

  • Maintained a data-driven approach to identifying SHSP emphasis areas.
  • Provided a framework for addressing significant “developing” emphasis areas.


To date, approximately 40 stakeholders representing the 4 Es of safety (engineering, enforcement, education, and EMS) have signed up for either the Distracted Task Force or the Aggressive Driving Task Force. The Task Forces are setting out to determine: 1) appropriate methods for analyzing the data to develop a clear picture of the problem; and 2) effective countermeasures. Once those tasks are accomplished, the intent is to transition the “developing” emphasis areas into full SHSP emphasis areas.


Dan Magri
Highway Safety Administrator
Louisiana Department of Transportation
and Development