Driving Miss Crazy: The most common forms of aggressive driving

Your alarm didn’t go off so you are running late to work, you have an emergency you need to get to, there was an accident on the road that put you behind in your whole day; for most, aggressive driving is the answer to all of these problems. It is human nature to think that driving fast enough will give us back the time we need. However, aggressive driving has the potential to do just the opposite.

According to the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association (RMIIA), a vehicle-related injury occurs every 14 seconds in the U.S. The Insurance Information Institute reports that aggressive driving behaviors were involved in 51.9% of fatal crashes in 2012.

This kind of driving is no doubt dangerous, but drivers can’t seem to get enough. While there are lots of ways to be aggressive on the road, the Insurance Information Institute finds certain mannerisms happen most often according to 2012 fatal crash data.

Of the 45,337 drivers who were involved in fatal crashes that year, 9,320 had reportedly been speeding, 3,431 drivers were swerving, 3,211 did not yield the right of way, 3,119 were distracted and 1,820 drivers disobeyed traffic signs, signals or officers.

Speeding, defined as “an individual committing to a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property” by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), is the most common aggressive behavior. Total, the habit was involved in 20.6% of fatal accidents.

In a 2011 Survey of Speeding Attitudes and Behaviors by the NHTSA, 91% of those surveyed either strongly agreed or somewhat agreed that “it is unacceptable to exceed speed limits by more than 20 mph.” However, 26.6% of respondents said they pass cars more often than they are passed and 44.8% choose to keep up with faster traffic.

Unfortunately, 17% of those surveyed agreed with the statement, “If it is your time to die, you’ll die, so it doesn’t matter whether you speed.”

Road behavior is ultimately in each driver’s hands. However, Carole Walker, the executive director of the RMIIA, says insurance agents have a real opportunity—and responsibility—to influence the caution drivers take.

“As agents, the key is your clients trust you, so you have influence over them as someone they trust and as their financial advisor,” Walker said.

According to Walker, that trust gives insurance agents room to really educate.

“You have contact with clients at critical times,” Walker said. “When they are adding a new teen driver, making life choice or getting new car; these are important times when you have the attention of the driver and the opportunity to have a conversation about road safety.”

While everyone recognizes the importance of road safety, not everyone understands fully how they are affecting it, which is some of the education insurance agencies can contribute.

“People are very aware of aggressive driving, but they don’t always consider it runs a gamut,” Walker said. “Most people think of running someone off the road or of an altercation. It can be anything from tailgating to running a light.”

Not only are these actions unsafe, but they are costly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in 2010 the cost of medical care and productivity losses as a result from crash injures totaled over $99 billion. In 2012, the average collision claim was $2,950 according to the RMIIA.

When shopping for car insurance, most people don’t consider crash costs. However, the possibility of steep charges would likely deter drivers from acting dangerously.

“Sometimes we pay more attention to financial consequences, especially with teens,” Walker said. “Pocket book issues can push us to do right things.”

With many ways of educating, the insurance industry can play a critical role in the continuing awareness of these driving habits.

“Insurance agencies are traffic safety activists,” Walker said. “It’s an important role we play.”

by Kendall Greenwood | Jan 30, 2015

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