Incidents of screaming, rude gestures, and sometimes evenviolence are reported frequently on our roadways. Andunfortunately, it doesn't look as though this problem is going awayany time soon.

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In July, a 44-year-old Florida man was shot dead in front of hiswife, daughter and grandson after a road rage incident in whichboth sides called police on the other. The shooting, and theevents leading up to it, were captured on 911 recordings.

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'Driving like an idiot'

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Robert Doyle was driving his truck in Citrus County when hecalled 911 to say another driver was "trying to run me off theroad." Meanwhile, Candelerio Gonzalez, was on the same road.His wife, Cathy Gonzalez, called 911 to report that anothermotorist was "driving like an idiot."

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Related: The 9 deadliest driving behaviors, by thenumbers

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The victim, Candelerio, followed the other driver home to gethis address, despite warnings from the 911 operator not to followDoyle. They ended up in front of the house of the alleged shooter,51-year-old Robert Doyle.

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You never know who has a gun

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Doyle allegedly fired five shots at Candelerio. He was hit oncein the chest and three times in the back. Candelerio died in theyard while, police say, Doyle pointed his gun at Cathy Gonzalez andthe two children, and made them get out of the car to wait for thecops.

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Doyle faces charges of second-degree murder and aggravatedassault, and has been released from jail with an anklebracelet, CNN reports.

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Let's take a look at how road rage can impact auto insurance,review the driving behaviors that lead to problems and learn tipsfor dealing with aggressive driving and road rage.

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Frustrated woman driver

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(Photo: Thinkstock)

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Aggressive driving vs. road rage

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Although defining road rage is complicated and varies byjurisdiction, generally, the difference between aggressivedriving and road rage is that aggressive driving is atraffic offense while road rage is acriminal offense. Currently, the NationalHighway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) definesaggressive driving as occurring when "an individual commits acombination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger otherpersons or property."

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On the other hand, road rage is generally defined as "an assaultwith a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by a vehicle'soperators or passenger(s) upon another person, when theassault was precipitated by an incident, which occurred on aroadway. Road rage requires willful and wanton disregard for thesafety of others." (See, University of Central Arkansas Police Department)

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Porsche involved in road rage

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In this photo provided by the Leesburg, Va., PoliceDepartment vehicles remain on the scene following an accident nearLeesburg on April 17, 2015. David Ray Godfrey of Waterford, Va.,was charged with attempted malicious wounding. He was arrested andreleased on bond. Police say they received multiple calls about aroad-rage incident between a Porsche and another car on the Route 7Bypass. (Leesburg Police Department via AP)

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How road rage can impact your insurancepremium

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Because your car insurance rate is partly determined by yourdriving history, a road-rage incident, when it shows up on yourrecord as a criminal offense, is a serious red flag. Insurers maycharge more for the policy to cover the added risk posed by adriver with any kind of criminal driving history.

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Related: The case, the policy and the decision: No coveragefor road rage

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Road rage can also cause problems for your claim process if youshould happen to be involved in an auto accident, according to theInsuranceInformation Institute. Road rage is listed as an exclusion inmany auto insurance policies because any damage stemming fromaggressive driving isn’t truly an accident, but rather it wascaused by risky behavior.

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police official leads Erich Nowsch, 19, from a car to police headquarters for questioning in Las Vegas,

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In this photo released by the Las Vegas Metropolitan PoliceDepartment, an unidentified police official leads Erich Nowsch, 19,from a car to police headquarters for questioning in Las Vegas,Feb. 19, 2015. Nowsch was arrested on suspicion of murder afterSWAT teams surrounded his home a block away from the residence ofTammy Meyers who was killed in a mysterious road-rage incident. (APPhoto/Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)

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Examples of aggressive driving that can lead to roadrage

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Aggressive driving is generally recognized as a progression ofunlawful driving actions that can escalate to road rage, suchas:

  • Exceeding the speed limit by more than 10 mph or driving toofast for conditions.
  • Tailgating excessively; failure to leave a safe distancebetween vehicles.
  • Driving in the left lane excessively at the posted speed limit– blocking the passing lane.
  • Making hand or finger gestures at other drivers.
  • Unnecessary use of high beam headlights.
  • Honking at other drivers blocking or slowing traffic.
  • Abrupt, un-signaled changes of lanes.
  • Failure to use turn signals when turning.
  • Flashing lights to signal a desire to pass.
  • Failure to yield right of way.
  • Using an emergency lane to pass or passing on a shoulder.
  • Running a red light or stop sign.
  • Making a right turn on red without stopping.

Traffic stacks up in the southbound lanes of Interstate 5, Friday, Oct. 16, 2015, in Arvin, Calif.

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Traffic stacks up in the southbound lanes of Interstate 5,Friday, Oct. 16, 2015, in Arvin, Calif., after storms unleashedflash flood and debris flows across lanes on Thursday. (APPhoto/Mark J. Terrill)

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When and where does road rage occur?

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According to the University of Central Arkansas PoliceDepartment:

  • Survey results indicate that road rage is most likely to occuron a Friday afternoon. It's during the afternoonpeak traffic hours that drivers are most apt to be both fatiguedand rushed.
  • Road rage incidents occur most frequently during thesummer months.
  • Urban areas are the most frequently reportedlocations for road rage incidents.
  • Road rage happens most frequently in moderatelycongested traffic, perhaps because heavily congestedtraffic conditions lower driver’s expectations.

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young man honking his car horn in traffic jam

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(Photo: Thinkstock)

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Road rage statistics

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Statistics compiled from the NHTSA and the AutoVantage auto clubillustrate that aggressive driving and road rage are causingserious problems on our roads. SafeMotorist.com notes:

  • 66% of traffic fatalities are caused by aggressivedriving.
  • 37% of aggressive driving incidents involve a firearm.
  • Males under the age of 19 are the most likely to exhibit roadrage.
  • Half of drivers who are on the receiving end of an aggressivebehavior, such as horn honking, a rude gesture, or tailgating admitto responding with aggressive behavior themselves.
  • 2% of drivers admit to trying to run an aggressor off theroad.

angry woman in the car

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(Photo: Thinkstock)

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Drivers need to calm down

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At least half of U.S. drivers need to calm down. According tothe Expedia 2015 Road Rage Report, a yearlyanalysis of driving etiquette:

  • 26% of respondents said they have yelled or used profanity atanother driver.
  • 17% percent of respondents said they have made a rude gesture,while 53% of respondents said they have been on the receiving endof one.
  • 4% of respondents said they have exited their vehicle to engageangrily with another motorist.
  • 13% of respondents have felt physically threatened by anotherdriver.

Americans offered multiple reasons for driving misbehavior: 21%reported that they were running late. Fourteen percent feltprovoked by other drivers, and 13% felt triggered by another driverwho wasn’t paying attention.

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angry man behind the wheel of a car

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(Photo: Thinkstock)

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Road rage quiz

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You may like to think that road rage is something that onlyhappens to other people, but the truth is, many of us are guilty ofaggressive behavior on the road. SafeMotorist.com suggests you ask yourself these fourquestions and answer honestly:

  • Do you regularly drive over the speed limit, or try to "beat"red lights because you are in a hurry?
  • Do you tailgate or flash your headlights at a driver in frontof you that you believe is driving too slowly?
  • Do you honk the horn often?
  • Do you ever use obscene gestures or otherwise communicateangrily at another driver?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, it's possible youare susceptible to road rage. Many times when a road rage incidentoccurs it's because the people are under stress in other areas oftheir lives. The addition of congested traffic can add to stress,which then explodes when you perceive that someone else on the roadhas acted in an aggressive way, whether intentional or not.

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Traffic comes to a halt as motorists struggle to enter lanes Friday, Feb. 20, 2015, on Interstate 25 northbound out of downtown Denver.

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Traffic comes to a halt as motorists struggle to enter lanesFriday, Feb. 20, 2015, on Interstate 25 northbound out of downtownDenver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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Crowding causes aggression

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One study estimates that more than half of all drivers haveexperienced a surge of road rage at some point, although not allram the offender's rear bumper, pull a pistol, or run someone offthe road. Still, tens of thousands of accidents happen each yearbecause of aggressive driving, which is also a leading cause ofdeath for young children, according to WebMD.

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"You know those studies of overcrowding in rats?" asks BarryMarkell, Ph.D., a psychotherapist in Park Ridge, Ill., who hastreated many perpetrators and victims of road rage. "Well, rats areusually OK until there is one rat too many in an enclosed space,and then they all turn on each other. There are far more people onthe road than ever before. Crowding causes aggression."

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Road ragers don't see the offender as a person. "They 'thingify'the person," Markell says.

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Ava Cadell, Ph.D., a psychologist and instructor atthe Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in SanFrancisco, Calif., agrees. "The heavy metal of a car is a safehaven. Road ragers don't think about the consequences or even aboutother people on the road as real people with real families."

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Rush hour traffic in Times Square, New York City

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(Photo: Thinkstock)

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New York City drivers rank as nation’srudest

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Findings from the Expedia 2015 Road Rage Report, found that amongmajor cities, New York City was cited as having the rudest driversaccording to 42% of Americans. Thirty-two percent chose Los Angelesdrivers, 18% felt the nation’s rudest drivers could be found inChicago, while 16% said the same of Washington, D.C. Only 1% ofAmericans felt that Portland, Ore., drivers were the nation’srudest.

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The Auto Insurance Center, a car insurance news andinformation site, compiled data on every fatal car accident in theU.S. recorded by the NHTSA Fatal Accident Reporting System from2009 to 2013, and found the following five states had the mostfatal crashes caused by road rage:

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1. Indiana

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2. South Carolina

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3. Delaware

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4. Colorado

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5. Montana

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stressed female car driver
(Photo: Thinkstock)

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How to handle road rage

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If you find that you have agitated another driver, whether thefault is truly yours or not, don't react to or retaliate againstthe other driver on the road, according to SafeMotorist.com. Engaging with the other driver willonly cause the situation to escalate. Remind yourself that theother driver is just bad at handling stress, avoid eye contact andcontinue to practice safe driving habits.

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All you can do is be a considerate, aware driver who follows therules of the road. While it may be difficult in the heat of themoment, don't give in to feelings of anger or rage on the road.Think twice before you honk the horn or flip that finger, becauseyou never know what may set off the person in the cars around you.Getting home or to work safely is more important than teachingsomeone a dangerous lesson.

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Police say if you are involved in a road rage incident, stay inyour car and call for help. If you can, drive to a well-lit areawith people or to a local police or fire station.

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happy man waving from car

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(Photo: Thinkstock)

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Ways to avoid road rage encounters

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Here are some additional pointers to help avoid road rageencounters:

  • Don't assume other drivers areevil. Sometimes, people make mistakes,or they might be driving more slowly for a reason. Do notassume that they are driving slowly just to annoy you. Put yourselfin the other driver’s shoes.
  • Don't honk your horninsistently. It might make you feelbetter, but it's really kind of silly. And when everyone does it ina traffic jam, it's really annoying and increases everyone's stresslevel.
  • If someone is tailgating you, don't aggravate yourselfand the other driver by playing cat and mouse with your speed. Moveout of the way and let the other driver pass you.
  • Cranks some tunes, not theengine. Instead of listening to your ownmuttering, try listening to music as it can help keep youcalm.
  • Leave space to pull around the car in front ofyou. This seems simple, but in heavy traffic,people tend to drive bumper-to-bumper. Leaving some wiggle room canreduce vulnerability if the driver in front of you getsaggressive. Allow at least a two-second space between yourvehicle and the one ahead of you.
  • Try not to run late. When you're in a hurry, yourpatience is short, and you're much more likely to becomeaggravated. Try to give yourself a few extra minutes to get whereyou need to go.
  • Avoid cutting other drivers off in traffic.
  • Signal several hundred feet before you change lanes or makea turn.
  • Avoid making any gestures or eye contact with anotherdriver.
  • Be courteous in the use of high-beam headlights.
  • Obey speed limits.
  • Drive in the right or middle lane; pass on theleft.
  • Stop at stop signs and red lights; don’t run yellowlights.
  • Don’t block intersections.
  • Report any aggressive driving incidents to the policeimmediately.

Important note: Police and safety officials say driverssnapping pictures or videos ofothers is unsafe and could lead to dangerous road-rageincidents.

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driver with handcuffs being arrested by policeman

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If you are prone to road rage

  • Get sufficient rest. Lack of sleep leads to loss ofcontrol.
  • Limit alcohol Alcohol can make you rageful, not to mentionimpair your driving in other ways.
  • Play soothing music. This can really help.
  • Be aware of your driving. Leon James, PhD, professor ofpsychology at the University of Hawaii and author of Road Rage and Aggressive Driving: SteeringClear of Highway Warfare, recommends watchingyourself—what makes you angry, how long do you stay angry. Tellyourself, "It was not their fault—it was the guy in front ofthem."
  • Put pictures of your loved ones on the dashboard. You want tocome home to them.
  • Remember, this behavior can cost you in more ways than one.Road rage can have a high price tag even if no one is hurt orkilled: tickets, lawyers, court costs, damage to vehicles, andhigher insurance rates.

irritated driver yelling at other driver

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(Photo: Thinkstock)

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Don't engage other drivers

  • Avoid engaging other drivers, even if they have done somethingto make you angry or vice versa.
  • Put as much distance between you and the other driver aspossible and avoid making eye contact.
  • Never pull off a roadway to confront another driver.
  • Keep your doors locked and give yourself room at intersectionsto drive away.
  • If possible, take down the license plate number of the vehicleand report the driver's behavior to police so they won’t hurtthemselves or someone else.

The infographic on the next page reveals the most irritating badhabits behind the wheel that can lead to road rage, according tothe Expedia 2015 Road Rage Report survey.

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Road Rage infographic

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(Source: Expedia)

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Jayleen R. Heft

Jayleen Heft is the digital content editor for PropertyCasualty360.com. Contact her at [email protected].