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What Is Aggressive Driving and Why Is It Harmful?

Car following too closely

We've all been there. Someone cuts you off or follows too closely from behind and your blood pressure elevates a bit. You wish a cop had been around to witness the stunt, but that rarely happens. Aggressive driving takes many different forms.

Signs of Aggressive Driving

Speeding: It might be the most common infraction of all - someone's in a huge hurry or racing past the speed limit just because the gas pedal works. At high rates of speed, braking distances increase, the odds of losing control skyrocket, and airbags and safety restraints might not do much to prevent serious injury or even death.

Blocking a Lane: There's always the driver who won't let you pass on a two-lane road or keeps pace alongside you as two lanes merge into one. Either stubborn practice risks an accident and/or violation, and increasing rates of speed on a highway jeopardizes the safety and lives of innocent drivers on the periphery.

Tailgating: Drivers need to have complete control of their car. In a rear-end collision, the driver doing the tailgating is almost always at fault. Keeping a safe distance - usually one car length per every 16 km per hour - is always advisable because striking another vehicle from the rear will likely raise your insurance premiums and endanger life and limb.

Weaving: Recklessly zigzagging in and out of the right and left lanes can also spell disaster. Typically, you'll witness these maneuvers on highways, but the worst drivers don't hesitate to weave in two-way traffic, even using the berm to pass. Careless operators who cross the double-yellow line in this manner risk head-on collisions that often involve fatalities.

How Serious Is Aggressive Driving in Canada?

It's no surprise that a strong correlation exists between aggressive driving and traffic-related deaths. In 2017, Ontario Provincial Police reported that deaths resulting from aggressive driving almost doubled in 2017 compared to 2016. In a one-week period, Ontario authorities cited 9,400 drivers for speeding, 165 of which were charged with exceeding the posted speed limit by 50 kilometres per hour or greater.

Among all provinces in 2016, Manitoba had far more injuries than anywhere else in Canada, registering 1,400 such incidents per 100,000 licensed drivers. While Manitoba injury reports nearly doubled that of Nunavut, the latter had more deaths recorded within the same time frame and study group, with 37.5 fatalities occurring among those 100,000 drivers. That figure greatly surpassed the fatality rate of Saskatchewan which suffered 15.7 deaths, the second-highest provincial number.

Not only does unsafe driving take a huge toll on public safety, at-fault accidents and violations put a big dent in the wallets of auto insurance policyholders. Premiums will rise significantly when drivers on a insurance plan fail to obey the rules of the road — posing additional risk by ignoring traffic signals, colliding with other vehicles, or damaging a second party's property.

The Last Word

There are ways to both curtail and recognize reckless behavior on the roads, while also keeping an eye on your household budget. Many defensive driver courses are available across Canada and the completion of a program will help keep you safer on the road and perhaps save you money on car insurance policies. Check out more information on defensive driving and compare auto premiums at Rates.ca.