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Bad driving beyond 'Use Yah Blinkah!'

By Michelle Megna

Carinsurance.com

Use yah blinkah by MASSDoTBoston is tops for boorish behavior behind the wheel, but a new survey suggests aggressive driving isn't limited to Bean Town, and it's making people feel badly, according to a survey by Safeco Insurance.

Though only 36 percent of drivers surveyed admitted to aggressive driving, 85 percent pointed to fellow motorists as being guilty of doing so, with 82 percent reporting they "experience negative feelings" due to others' poor driving habits, says the survey.

The news of Bostonians owning up to bad driving behavior comes on the heels of a recent reminder from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation in the form of signs on state highways reading: "Use Yah Blinkha!" that went viral after being Tweeted.

Bostonians topped the list of those who admitted to aggressive driving (46 percent); New York and Los Angeles drivers are tied for second (both 38 percent).

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Denver drivers rank lowest in reporting their own aggressive driving (26 percent). Overall, Minneapolis and Seattle drivers report less frequent negative behaviors for themselves and others. 

Hey, hearse! Move it, will ya?

While it may not be surprising to some that Boston, New York and Los Angeles lead the way in confessing to a lack of car etiquette, additional findings revealing a complete lack of motoring manners in certain situations is sure to raise more than an eyebrow or two:

  • More than one-third (37 percent) of those surveyed have watched other drivers cut a funeral line.
  • More than half (54 percent) have seen able-bodied drivers take handicap spots.
  • Forty-two percent report seeing other drivers cut off a school bus.

Given the shameful survey findings, 72 percent of respondents say they'd be willing to make at least one change to their own behavior to make driving a more pleasant experience for others on the road. If drivers stopped doing the following, respondents say it would make motoring a more happy experience:

  • Cutting off other drivers (59 percent)
  • Using high beams toward oncoming traffic (57 percent)
  • Tailgating (56 percent)

Road rage, aggressive driving and car insurance

 If you are acting out behind the wheel, not only are you decreasing your chance of qualifying for good driver discounts, you could be charged for aggressive driving or reckless driving. In many states, a reckless driving citation is a felony or misdemeanor, which can mean jail time and fees, points on your license and an insurance rate hike. States have different definitions of reckless driving, but often, aggressive behavior can fall under the reckless umbrella of knowingly driving in a way that endangers others.

"The penalties vary by state but typically are pretty severe. For example, in California being charged with reckless driving can result in imprisonment of five to 90 days or a fine of between $145 and $1,000 or both," says Penny Gusner, consumer analyst for Insure.com.  If you caused injuries to others, jail time is increased to at least 30 days up to six months, and the fine is raised up to $220 to $1,000 (per California Vehicle Code 23103, 23104 and 23105). Add fees and these fines end up being between $600 and $2,000, plus you receive 2 points on your California driving record.

And that isn’t including how seriously auto insurance providers take such actions and violations. A reckless driving ticket can raise your yearly premium, on average, by 22 percent, says Gusner, "and it could be more depending upon the rating system of your car insurance company."

Drive yourself happy

Jonathan Alpert, a Manhattan-based psychotherapist, who has written about road rage, offered the following tips in a written statement:

  • Know –and avoid -- the characteristics of an aggressive driver. Cutting off drivers, tailgating, unnecessary or excessive horn use, rapid lane changes and speeding. If this is you, stop. If not, stand clear.
  • Encourage good behavior by being friendly and courteous on the road. Give up a parking spot, or when it is safe to do so, allow other drivers to move into your lane.  Just be cautious as other drivers around you may not realize what you are doing.  Being nice, but safe, reinforces similar behavior in others. 
  • Normalize the undesirable. Traffic, slow drivers and fast ones are all to be expected and are a normal part of being on the road in the driving community. Accept it. Consider leaving five minutes early to get to your destination as you'll be more tolerant when you're not running late.   
  • Don't personalize other people's behavior. Just because a driver cut you off doesn't mean he or she meant to or did it to enrage you. Consider other explanations, such as the driver is en route to an emergency, there's a crisis a parent is trying to get to at home or simply, the driver didn't see you.

 


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