What is the Difference Between Road Rage and Aggressive Driving?

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Aggressive driving encompasses any moving traffic violation that endangers others on the road, while road rage is an act of purposeful vehicle assault. 
According to the NHTSA, 66% of all vehicle deaths are linked to aggressive driving and road rage. Some degree of frustration is normal while on the road. But if this frustration causes another person to act aggressively toward another vehicle, there can be serious consequences—both physically and financially.
Here, the car insurance comparison and broker app Jerry is breaking down everything you need to know about aggressive driving, road rage, and how to deal with them. 

What is aggressive driving?

Aggressive driving is when a driver commits an action or series of actions that endanger another person on the road. These actions disregard the safety and wellbeing of others.
Aggressive driving offenses include: 
  • Speeding
  • Driving on the sidewalk
  • Running a red light
  • Refusing to pull over for an ambulance 
  • Refusing to slow down in a school zone
  • Changing lanes recklessly or without a turn signal
  • Passing another car in a no-passing zone
Being upset with another driver is understandable. When another person makes poor choices, it can be difficult to stop yourself from getting frustrated. But be sure that your frustration doesn’t lead you to act in aggressive or unsafe ways.
If you’re charged with aggressive driving, you’ll be hit with a fine and you’ll likely see your insurance rates increase for at least a few years.

What is road rage?

Road rage is a much more extreme version of aggressive driving. When a driver attempts to seriously injure another driver on the road, this is considered an act of road rage.
Road rage offenses include:
  • Purposefully hitting another driver with your vehicle
  • Brandishing a firearm
  • Verbally threatening to kill or harm another driver
  • Reckless driving/extreme speeding
Although the consequences for road rage vary from state to state, road rage is a criminal offense almost everywhere. Depending on the incident, you may be convicted of a felony or even be sentenced to jail time. Road rage offenses will also mark your driving record, causing your insurance rates to increase.

How to deal with aggressive drivers

When you encounter an aggressive driver—or worse, a driver trying to commit an act of road rage—one of the most important things to remember is that getting angry in response will only exacerbate the issue.
It can be frustrating to feel like another driver is getting away with mistreating you. But especially on the road, prioritizing your safety should be your first concern. 
If someone begins acting aggressively toward you, try these tips.
  • Avoid eye contact. Especially if you’re frustrated, making eye contact with the other driver will only encourage them to continue their behavior.
  • Don’t honk your horn for too long. While honking is a great way to warn other drivers of a dangerous situation, honking loudly at an aggressive driver or road rager will frustrate them further.
  • Create distance. Slow down and change lanes. If necessary, exit the highway or turn onto another street. If the driver continues to follow you, alert the police. Don’t try to stop or engage the driver on your own.
Deescalating the situation is key to avoiding aggressive drivers. Don’t stoop to their level!

Tips to reduce frustration while driving

You’re responsible for the lives of others on the road. If you’re experiencing road rage symptoms, use the following strategies to calm down.
  • Put yourself in the other driver’s shoes. Try to be sympathetic and imagine why the other driver may have made the choice that enraged you. Maybe they’re rushing to a hospital.
  • Separate yourself from other vehicles. Just like when you get frustrated in a room full of people, it’s best to give yourself some space. Try to slow down and make room around your vehicle.
  • Turn on soothing music. Turn on your favorite relaxing songs. Maybe put the hard rock or EDM on hold, just for a few minutes. Give your emotions some time to calm down.
  • Pull over. If nothing seems to be working, think seriously about whether you should pull over. With the consequences of road rage being so extreme, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

How to find the right car insurance

Even when you make all the right choices on the road, you can’t control the actions of other drivers. Making sure that you have the best car insurance for your vehicle is an important precaution for any responsible driver.
Jerry is the super app that helps you save time and money on your car expenses, including insurance. 
Jerry analyzes your existing policy and presents you with competitive quotes from 50+ insurance companies that meet your coverage needs. Once you're ready to switch, Jerry handles the phone calls and paperwork so that you don’t have to lift a finger! 
Comparison shopping for insurance has never been so easy. And the best part? The average Jerry user saves $879 per year on car insurance.
“Jerry saved me so much time and money! I went from $230 to $150, still with full coverage! The whole process was amazingly simple!” —Ronda S.
Experiencing rage on the road isn’t a crime, but driving offenses that fall under the “road rage” category are considered criminal offenses. Vehicle assault, brandishing firearms, and reckless driving are all examples of criminal road rage symptoms.
An aggressive driver is anyone who acts in a way that endangers other vehicles on the road. This includes speeding, changing lanes without signaling, and ignoring traffic signs.
If you get charged with aggressive driving, you may be required to pay anywhere between $145 and $1,000 in fines, depending on your state laws.
Yes, depending on the laws in your state, you may be sentenced to up to 90 days in jail. If your road rage offense injures another person, you could be charged with a felony and your jail sentence might be extended.

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