Jammed highways and traffic gridlocks are the source of much irritation to many drivers, contributing to aggressive driving incidents which can lead to serious accidents, and ultimately, road rage. These incidents can also have an impact on your auto insurance rates and coverage.
Understanding Road Rage: Don’t Get Mad, Get Informed
Road rage is a term used to describe an extreme and dangerous behavior that can occur when a driver becomes angry or frustrated while operating a vehicle. It often includes aggressive driving tactics such as tailgating, speeding, and disregarding traffic laws like the speed limit or other traffic violations. Road rage can also involve rude gestures or verbal abuse directed at other drivers.
Road rage is a high-risk behavior that is often associated with high-risk drivers, and the severity of road rage episodes can range from minor incidents to criminal offenses. Road rage accidents can result in serious injuries or fatalities, and according to road rage statistics, aggressive driving is responsible for about one-third of all crashes and two-thirds of the resulting fatalities.
It’s important for drivers to stay calm and focused while behind the wheel, especially in stressful situations, to prevent the occurrence of road rage behavior and to minimize the risk of road rage accidents.
Common Road Rage Sparks
Understanding the most common causes of road rage can help drivers stay safe and avoid dangerous situations. Based on research and statistics, the top five causes of road rage are:
- Heavy traffic
- Being cut off or tailgated
- Running late
- Getting stuck behind slow-moving vehicles
- Road construction
By recognizing these triggers and taking steps to stay calm and focused, drivers can help reduce the risk of road rage incidents and make the roads safer for everyone.
Differences Between Road Rage and Aggressive Driving
The terms “road rage” and “aggressive driving” are often used interchangeably, but there are some important differences between the two. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), road rage “involves a criminal act of violence, whereas aggressive driving can range from tailgating to speeding to running red lights.”
While road rage is a form of aggressive behavior that can result in criminal offenses, aggressive driving refers to a range of dangerous driving behaviors that can increase the risk of accidents and injuries on the road.
Examples of aggressive driving behaviors include tailgating, speeding, weaving in and out of traffic, and running red lights. These actions can be reckless and put other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians in danger. In contrast, road rage results when an aggressive driver takes their behavior to the extreme and engages in violent or criminal actions such as assault, brandishing a weapon, or causing a collision intentionally.
It’s important for drivers to be aware of the differences between road rage and aggressive driving and to avoid engaging in either behavior. Aggressive driving can increase the risk of accidents and injuries, while road rage can lead to criminal charges and even jail time.
By staying calm and focused on the road, drivers can help reduce the risk of both aggressive and dangerous driving behaviors.
Consequences of Road Rage
Road rage can have severe consequences, both for the driver who engages in reckless driving behavior and for others on the road. Some of the potential consequences of road rage include legal charges, license suspension, and higher car insurance rates. In addition, road rage incidents can cause bodily harm, exacerbate traffic congestion, and result in costly accidents.
Road rage can have serious legal consequences, including fines, license suspension, and even criminal charges. If a driver engages in aggressive or dangerous behavior on the road, they may face charges such as reckless driving or assault with a deadly weapon.
These charges can result in hefty fines, points on the driver’s license, and even jail time. In addition to the criminal charges, a road rage incident can also lead to a civil lawsuit filed by any injured parties. The legal consequences of road rage can be severe and long-lasting, making it important for drivers to avoid aggressive behaviors on the road.
A study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that aggressive behaviors such as tailgating, excessive speed, illegal passing, or erratic lane changing are contributing factors in up to 56% of fatal crashes. Another AAA Foundation study examined more than 10,000 road rage incidents committed over seven years – responsible for at least 218 murders and another 12,610 injury cases.
Higher Insurance Rates
Auto insurance rates are determined by various factors, such as age, driving history, and location. However, road rage incidents can also impact these rates, resulting in higher insurance costs. Insurance companies view aggressive driving as a risk factor and may increase rates accordingly.
Even if a road rage incident does not lead to an accident, the behavior itself may be seen as indicative of a higher likelihood of future accidents, resulting in higher insurance costs for the driver. Therefore, it’s important to avoid road rage and practice safe driving habits to keep insurance costs at a minimum.
Road rage can also cause problems with your liability insurance coverage if you’re involved in an auto accident. Many car insurance policies exclude road rage as a covered event, and consequently, won’t pay for any damages resulting from a road rage incident. It’s important to review your car insurance policy to understand what’s covered and what’s excluded, to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
Road Rage Survival Guide: Tips for Staying Calm Behind the Wheel
So, what can you do to keep from becoming involved in a road rage incident?
Follow these tips and you’ll decrease your chances of facing a dangerous situation:
- Plan ahead – give yourself extra time to reach your destination.
- Don’t glare at annoying drivers.
- Don’t flash offensive gestures.
- Don’t flash your headlights.
- Don’t tailgate.
- If someone is tailgating you, when it’s safe, move out of the way and let them pass you.
- Don’t blast your horn because a driver didn’t move the second the light changed.
- Don’t drive slowly in the fast lane.
- Don’t block driveways or double park your car.
- Don’t use a handicapped spot if you’re not actually handicapped; that’s also bad karma.
- If you accidentally cut someone off, let them know you made a mistake – smile and offer a friendly, “I’m sorry!” hand gesture.
- If a driver rolls down his window and starts yelling at you, do not respond.
- Keep your window rolled up – and avoid eye contact.
- Get moving – and get away as soon as you can.
- Don’t get out of your car.
- If an angry driver follows you, don’t drive home.
- Stay on well-traveled roads. Do NOT pull off onto a side street.
- Find a cop and get his attention – or call 911 on your cell phone.
- Find a busy public place where people are out and about. If you’re still followed, attract attention by honking your horn.
Managing Insurance Rates After a Road Rage Encounter
Reducing your insurance rates after a road rage incident involves taking responsibility for your actions and working with your car insurance provider to improve your driving habits.
Some insurance providers offer safe driving courses that can help you lower your premiums, and making sure to avoid any future incidents can help keep your rates low.
If you’ve experienced a road rage incident and want to explore your options for reducing your insurance rates, reach out to Freeway Insurance today. Make sure you’re protected and getting the best rate on your insurance. Get a fast and cheap car insurance quote online, call us at (800) 777-5620 or stop by one of our office locations.