9 Investigates: Aggressive driving across Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — There might be some truth to the complaints about reckless driving in Charlotte and how it seems to be getting worse.

It turns out that Mecklenburg County has more citations for aggressive driving than any other county in North Carolina.

In 2018, nearly 1,100 citations were handed out for aggressive driving, which is one of the most serious driving offenses. What stands out is that about 25 percent of the citations were written in Mecklenburg County. The next closest county wasn't even close at all.

Wake County recorded just 5 percent of the citations. Nearly 50 percent of the citations in the state were given in the Channel 9 viewing area.

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"I think that is a good thing that there are that many citations," said Sgt. Jesse Wood, with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department transportation unit.

Wood said it means officers are taking the problem seriously.

"They are taking the initiative to stop these cars and issue that citations," Wood said.

CMPD gets a lot of complaints about reckless driving. Channel 9 counted more than 200 complaints since April. The complaints were scattered all over the city with several in uptown and a heavy concentration in University City.

CMPD has been cracking down recently with its Vision Zero Initiative to eliminate traffic deaths.

But Channel 9 wanted to know why people drive so dangerously in the first place, so we asked a group of seven people who are facing various traffic charges.

"I'm a very impatient person. If I’m trying to get to my destination, if someone is in front of me going 20 under, I’m going to get off," said Yasmine Colefield, who was cited for reckless driving.

Some in the group have received more than 10 tickets and others have had their licenses suspended, but they are all trying to do better by taking this eight-hour traffic safety course.

[VIDEO: Aggressive driving in Charlotte]

"Driving is an expression of your own emotions. If you're having a stressful day, don't take it out on your driving. Sit back, relax," said Chip McDonald, the president of the Safety and Health Council of North Carolina.

McDonald runs the course, which some drivers take, hoping to have their charges reduced or thrown out. The classes are almost always full.

"Traffic is getting worse, no doubt about it, but speeding isn't going to get you there any faster," said McDonald.

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One driver we talked to has an idea of why traffic is getting worse. He said it's tied to the growth in our area.

"Charlotte has a different blend of driving styles from different states and cities," Carlos Polanco said. "Everybody is so used to driving the way they are. They don't really take the time to consider adapting to how it is out here."

Those who don't adapt could end up with an aggressive driving charge, which could mean losing their license or even jail time.