Can Road Rage Lead To Higher Car Insurance Rates?
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Road rage causes drivers to become aggressive and act with malice towards others on the road, making them more prone to causing accidents which can cause their insurance rates to rise, the policy to be canceled or their provider to refuse renewal of their plan. Those who have road rage drive aggressively and tend to have other psychiatric issues that cause them to be more irritable and emotionally volatile.
Below, you will find what you can do to help lessen the likelihood of acting out while on the road and how to keep yourself safe from other drivers’ road rage.
What Is Road Rage?
Road rage is when someone responds with excessive anger and/or malicious intent towards other drivers or objects when behind the wheel of a car. People who have road rage typically have short fuses and are easily agitated by traffic and fellow motorists. They often exhibit certain behaviors such as:
- Yelling obscenities
- Making crude/offensive hand gestures
- Running red lights
- Brake checking the person behind by stopping abruptly
In more extreme situations:
- Running drivers off the road
- Rear-ending other cars
- Starting physical altercations
- Following other drivers
- Obstructing traffic
Is Road Rage Common?
Road rage is not a common occurrence considering the number of drivers on the road. According to a post by Naveed Saleh M.D., M.S. on Psychology Today, less than 2% of drivers have or participate in behavior that would be considered road rage. However, Statista reports there are 228 million drivers in this country, which means there are over 4.5 million people who have road rage.
What Causes Road Rage?
Rage of the kind associated with driving behaviors has been linked to several disorders, according to Healthline. Things like driving behind someone who fails to use a blinker, or someone who is driving extremely slow in the fast lane or someone who cuts you off can all be potential trigger events that could cause someone to go into a fit of road rage. Here are some reasons why a driver may have road rage:
- Depression - Characterized by an extreme sense of loss, sadness and/or emptiness. Depression can last days or even years.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) - Characterized by obsessive thinking and compulsive actions. The individual will have unwanted/disturbing thoughts and will engage in an action to help counteract the thought.
- Alcohol abuse - Characterized by overindulgence in alcohol consumption. Alcoholism is a contributing factor to half of the violent crimes that occur in the United States.
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) - Characterized by hyperactivity, impulsivity and/or inattention.
- Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) - Characterized by anger and irritability. Those with ODD have a hot temper and tend to have difficulty dealing with people in positions of authority. ODD is often seen in those under the age of 18.
- Bipolar disorder - Characterized by extreme shifts in mood (mania and depression). Those in a manic state could be irritable or euphoric and may have racing thoughts. Those in a depressive state tend to feel overwhelmed by sadness.
- Intermittent explosive disorder (IED) - Characterized by regular angry outbursts and overreactions, IED is typically found in younger people.
- Grief - Anger is the second stage of the five stages of grief.
- Unresolved anger issues (repressed anger) - Nicole Artz, L.M.F.T. states that unresolved anger refers to “anger that is unconsciously avoided, denied or pushed down.” Artz states such people are not aware of their anger and eventually may lash out at people. Such actions could occur while driving.
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What’s the Difference Between Road Rage and Aggressive Driving?
Road rage results in the driver operating their vehicle in an unsafe way with aggression towards other people or objects. Aggressive driving is a type of driving behavior characterized by risky behavior behind the wheel with no concern over other drivers. You don’t need to have road rage in order to practice aggressive driving. The person who is late for work can still cut someone off, run a red light or not use a blinker without ever having any overt feeling of anger. According to the Insurance Information Insitute (III), aggressive driving behavior includes:
- Excessive speeding
- Following improperly
- Improper or erratic lane changing
- Illegal driving on road shoulders, ditches, sidewalks or medians
- Passing where prohibited
- Operating the vehicle in an erratic, reckless, careless or negligent manner or suddenly changing speeds
- Failure to yield right of way
- Failure to observe safety zone traffic laws
- Failure to observe warnings or instructions on vehicles displaying them
- Failure to signal
- Driving too fast for conditions or in excess of the posted speed limit
- Making an improper turn
What Are the Consequences of Road Rage?
There are consequences that result from road rage, such as damage caused to yourself and other people. There is also damage caused to your property and the property of others. For example, a man is running late and is speeding to work. He’s hurtling down the road in his car and ends up behind someone who refuses to get out of the way. This throws the driver who is late into a rage and he or she ends up tailgating and pushing the other vehicle from behind. The slower vehicle panics, swerves and crashes. Not only is the car damaged but the person is injured as well.
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Can Road Rage Incidents Lead to Higher Insurance Rates?
Road rage can affect your insurance rates if it results in injury and/or damaged property. Insurance companies are less apt to insure someone who poses a high risk of causing accidents. Being classified as high-risk means higher insurance rates. If you are the one who causes an accident due to road rage, your rates will go up as well. After filing numerous claims you’ve filed, you won’t be able to get standard auto insurance. Instead, you would need to seek non-standard coverage, which will cost more. Here is a list of insurance providers that work with high-risk drivers:
- Bristol West
- Direct Auto Insurance
- Founders Insurance
- The General
- Kemper Auto Insurance
- National General
- Safe Auto
Road rage can lead to other consequences besides your rates going up. Actions taken while raging can lead to serious injury or even death. You could face:
- Tickets and fines
- Jail or prison depending on the severity of the accident
- Nonrenewal of coverage
- Cancellation of coverage
- License suspension
- License revocation
- Vehicle impoundment
Tips To Reduce Road Rage
The best way to avoid road rage is by being proactive about mitigating stressful or rage-inducing situations. Below is a list of tips to help prevent yourself from losing your cool while you drive.
- Expect that people will make mistakes - Before you ever get in your car, understand that people will always make mistakes while driving. Also, understand that people are not always intentionally trying to get in your way. Some people just aren’t thinking clearly, perhaps because of their own difficult life situations.
- Drive when traffic conditions are less stressful - Getting an early start can make all the difference when dealing with problems in traffic. Generally, the earlier in the morning you leave for work, the less traffic there is. The less traffic there is, the smaller the likelihood that someone will do something to offend you. This also helps deal with traffic lights, as you won’t be rushed to get to your job. If a light turns red, it’s no big deal. You’ve got plenty of time.
- Breathe - This may sound obvious, but breathing is a big part of being able to manage your emotional state. Taking deep breaths into your stomach, or diaphragmatic breathing, stimulates your vagus nerve, which decreases your heart rate and dampens your fight-or-flight response. This can bring down your stress, and in turn, help you manage your anger.
- Listen to soothing music - Music does affect your driving habits. That means if you listen to something that is intense or fast, you may be setting yourself up for a bad situation while on the road. So instead of listening to raucous music listen to something soothing while you drive.
- Think about other things - Try to fill your head with thoughts that are not upsetting or stressful. Just be sure you’re still paying attention to the road.
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What Should You Do if You're a Victim of Road Rage?
If you find yourself dealing with a driver with road rage, there are things you can do to make sure you stay safe.
- Get off at the next exit - One of the best things you can do is to get away from a driver with road rage. Safely find your way to the next available exit where traffic is slowed so the offending driver can continue on their way.
- Call 911 - Many cars have hands-free settings, allowing you to call and text without ever having to touch your phone. If you have these in your car, and someone is acting dangerously around you or threatening towards you, call the police. If you’re driving with a passenger, have them make the call. You can also call the authorities even if you don't have a hands-free device. However, you need to be sure you will not cause an accident.
- Don’t escalate the problem - Anger can be contagious especially when you’re behind the wheel and certainly when you feel you haven’t done anything to deserve someone else’s aggression. If there is someone with road rage who has focused their anger at you, don’t meet them with anger. That makes things worse and creates an even more unsafe environment not just for you and the other driver, but for the rest of the commuters sharing the road.
- Collect information - If you’re not able to call the police, you can still be proactive in making sure the person with road rage is stopped. Take a photo of the license plate. Try to remember the make, model and color of the vehicle they’re driving. This will help identify who the driver is. Also, try to remember details about the driver, such as gender, age, hair color, ethnicity, clothing and facial features. Just don’t go out of your way to get a close look at the enraged driver.
- Lock your doors and roll up your windows - It’s possible you could find yourself in heavy, slow traffic or stopped traffic when someone is raging. Make sure they can’t open your doors or reach through a window.
- Don’t drive home - If someone’s road rage is causing them to follow you, avoid returning to your home. Your house may seem like your safe place, but its location is the last thing you want to give to someone who is acting aggressively. Consider driving to a populated area or even a police station.
- Try to manage yourself - It can be hard to keep yourself calm during a stressful situation. However, having a level head when there is someone with road rage can make all the difference in keeping you safe. Be aware of your surroundings, don’t take unnecessary risks and don’t get distracted.
- Be prepared - There are several things you can keep in your car to help you if you’re in an accident resulting from road rage. Along with having your license, registration and proof of insurance on hand, you should also have a pen and paper to take down information if needed, a flashlight, flares and pepper spray for self-defense.
Whether you’re considered a high-risk driver due to road rage or you’re a safe driver, you’re going to need insurance that won’t break the bank. Enter your zip code below or call 855.214.2291 to compare multiple companies and receive free auto insurance quotes in minutes.