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Written by Laura Berry
Former Insurance Agent Laura Berry

Joshua is a copywriter at Obrella who for more than 10 years has been creating content about insurance, health care, and more. He helps companies explain complex insurance subjects in simple ways so that customers can make smart buying decisions. He spends way too much time binge-watching Netflix, loves the outdoors and has a cat who tolerates him.

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Reviewed by Joshua Adamson
Joshua Adamson

UPDATED: Jul 22, 2021

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The Facts Behind Road Rage and Aggressive Driving

Road Rage Sign

It’s probably happened to you: someone riding your bumper, blaring their horn, flipping you off, or nonchalantly cutting you off. Maybe you’ve even been guilty of being the aggressor a time or two. The bottom line is, no matter who is at fault, road rage and aggressive driving are serious and dangerous habits. Not only can driving dangerously hurt you, but it could kill someone else.  

Aggressive Driving vs Road Rage

Aggressive driving and road rage aren’t the same thing. Both employ risky maneuvers and put people at risk of getting hurt, but aggressive driving takes the regard for others out of the equation. Aggressive drivers just want to get to where they’re going and don’t factor in individuals at all. They can be identified by:

  • Excessive driving speeds
  • Changing over from lane to lane rapidly and erratically
  • Passing without signalling
  • Cutting people off 

On the contrary, road rage is a type of aggressive that is way more intense and situational. When someone has road rage, they are purposely going after another driver without care for the possible dangers involved or the safety of others. Road rage has been defined as an “assault on another person with a vehicle.” They generally focus their anger on one driver, in particular. Drivers with road rage can be identified by:

  • Honking
  • Yelling
  • Rude gestures
  • Purposeful blocking of others trying to get in their lane
  • Flagrant harassing of another driver
  • Running someone off the road
  • Getting out of their car and going after another driver

What Should You Know about Road Rage?

We’ve all run into the road rager. Maybe they speed up to get in front of you and then slam on their brakes because they think you cut them off. In recent years, reports have popped up of some of these drivers pulling out a gun while driving. Like many other things, there’s a range of examples. It could be a simple inconvenience or a scary story. Unfortunately, road rage can also be deadly.

There are two types of road rage: situational and habitual. Habitual happens often while driving and situational happens as a result of isolated incidents. Unfortunately, both of these types of road rage have equal opportunity to become deadly.

If you encounter a road rager, you may want to just try to get away from them. If you can safely turn off a highway exit or something else that would prevent them from following you, that is an effective way of getting yourself out of the situation. In many cases, this just isn’t plausible. Some may try to stop and pull over to the side of the road. If you do this, do not get out of your vehicle. If you feel particularly threatened, call the police to assist you. But do not go over the speed limit or commit another traffic offense to try to get away. It may only escalate the situation.

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What Should You Know about Aggressive Driving?

  • About 6,800,000 crashes are caused by aggressive driving every year in the U.S.. This is more common in some ways as it’ becomes a habit. 
  • More than half of those surveyed by NHTSA admitted to driving aggressively on occasion.
  • Aggressive driving causes 66% of traffic fatalities.

Drivers can consciously curb aggressive behavior. They have to recognize the issue first. Aggressive driving can sometimes overlap with a road rage incident.

How Can You Prevent Road Rage?

Road rage stems from aggressive driving most of the time. But sometimes, it results due to an individual’s impatience and personality. What you can do to prevent road rage is:

  • Calm yourself down if you are starting to feel agitated.
  • Allow others to merge into your lane.
  • Turn off your high beams when approaching another driver.
  • Don’t engage in any aggressive driving habits.
  • Be courteous.

If you find road rage is a regular problem, you can curb road rage statistics by seeking out therapy or other help. Not every case is the same. So it’s often up to the individual to decide what steps need to be taken.

Are you an aggressive driver?

It’s not always easy to admit or realize aggressive driving traits in yourself. Take the AAA quiz to find out where you land on the aggressive driving scale.

The good news is aggressive driving incidents and road rage are preventable. Some people seek personal help. Many cities, insurance companies, and other organizations also offer defensive driving and other smart driving classes to help everybody drive safer and avoid fatal crashes. The best part for some is you can also get insurance discounts by taking some of these classes.

Learn about safe driving auto insurance discounts.

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