The NASCAR influence in the Charlotte area may be rubbing off on average-Joe drivers – and not in a good way.
Mecklenburg County produced four times as many aggressive driving charges as any other county in the state in 2017, and accounted for more than a quarter of the statewide total.
State data show that 279 people were charged with the offense last year in Mecklenburg. The next-highest total was in Wake County, with 67.
Mecklenburg and Wake each have a population just over 1 million.
The state defines aggressive driving as speeding while committing two or more of five other offenses: running a red light, running a stop sign, passing illegally, failing to yield, and following too closely. It’s a higher-level offense than reckless driving, which focuses less on speeding.
Officials charged 1,055 people statewide with aggressive driving in 2017, compared with 1,145 in 2007 – despite a population growth of about 1.1 million in that time. But in general, the number of charges has fluctuated greatly since the offense became law in 2004.
Larger metro areas, of course, have more people and a greater chance for such an offense. Forsyth County had the most aggressive driving charges (64) in 2016, and New Hanover (65) had the most in 2015. Wake County led the way in 2014, with 67 people charged, and Guilford had the most (66) in 2013.
But none have come close to Mecklenburg’s latest count. The closest over the 14 years was 124 charges in Wake County in 2009.