The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines aggressive driving as, “the operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger persons or property.” That’s a traffic violation. When it goes beyond that, it’s called road rage and it can be a criminal offense. In either case, if you’re ticketed or arrested, expect to kiss your cheap car insurance premiums goodbye.
The funny thing about road rage is that you can rapidly morph from a victim to a perpetrator. Somebody tail gates, you flip them off, they speed up and cut you off, you speed up and cut them off. This goes on until one or both of you is stopped by a cop or somebody gets hurt. Believe it or not, this kind of dangerous tit for tat is the norm. And, in case you’re wondering, men, drivers under 25 and drivers with kids in the car are more likely to respond aggressively to a road rage challenge.
The reality is that driving on America’s road feels increasingly like being a stressed-out rat in an over-crowded maze. Here are some things you can do to avoid being involved in road rage and keep your low car insurance premiums.
Remember that your goal is to get where you’re going in one piece. Better to slow down, relax, play some soothing music and ease on down the road.
It takes two to start a fight. Don’t react to an aggressive driver. Just let it go.
Use your turn signal to change lanes and make turns. Turn it off when you’ve completed your move.
Don’t tail gate. If you’re following an aggressive driver too close, he may decide to “teach you a lesson” by slamming on his brakes. Rear-end collisions are almost always the fault of the rear-ender and there goes your cheap car insurance.
If you see somebody who is driving like a maniac, keep your distance.
Do not confront or make eye contact with an irate driver.
If you feel threatened by an angry driver, don’t speed up or weave in and out of traffic. Either pull out your cell phone and call 911, or drive to a police station or a well-lit, crowded place. Never drive to your home if you’re being followed, and don’t leave your car until it’s safe to do so.
If you unintentionally cut someone off or commit some other offense that could irritate someone, acknowledge your mistake with a friendly, non-threatening, totally humble gesture.
The American Automobile Association estimates that around 1,500 people a year are seriously hurt or killed in mindless traffic disputes. Don’t be one of them.