Are you an aggressive driver?
The face of road rage is changing. It used to be that drivers who purposely rammed into another car or person or who chased another motorist were labeled "aggressive."
Now, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association, the term "aggressive driving" covers a wide range of behavior behind the wheel. To date, 15 states have passed laws addressing and identifying aggressive driving.
What does that mean for you? If you're caught speeding and following too closely in Florida, for instance, not only will you be cited for these offenses, the traffic cop could indicate on the ticket that you were driving aggressively -- and that could send your car insurance rates through the roof.
"Aggressive driving is definitely frowned on by insurance companies," says Mike Coleman, a State Farm agent in Alabama.
Depending on your driving record, Coleman says, an aggressive driving citation, also called "reckless driving," could be grounds for non-renewal of your policy or a 5 percent to 25 percent increase in your rates.
Those high rates could haunt you for a long time.
In California, for example, "reckless driving" puts two points on your driving record; those points stay on your driving record for at least five years. "In most cases, you would non-renewed by most insurance companies once that shows up on your driving record," says Steve Brooks, president of B&B Premier Insurance Solutions Inc. in California.
Here's a look at how aggressive driving can land your car insurance rates in hot water in several states.
Speeding while engaging in at least two other traffic no-nos could put you in the aggressive driver category. Those no-nos could include failing to obey a traffic control device, making an unsafe lane change or following another car too closely. Also, driving aggressively in Arizona could net you up to six months in jail, a fine of $2,500 and the loss of your driver's license for up to 30 days.
The Golden State says you're driving recklessly if you cause certain injuries to passengers or pedestrians. The law also calls out drivers who engage in speeding contests.
Committing at least two of a group of offenses -- such as speeding, improper lane changes or following too closely -- may prompt a cop to check the "aggressive driving" box on a traffic ticket.
Cops in the Peach State will call you aggressive if you operate a vehicle with the intent to harass, intimidate, injure or obstruct another person while overtaking and passing another vehicle, violating traffic lane markings or signals, following too closely or impeding traffic flow.
Any combination of three violations, and you'll be branded a reckless driver in Maryland. Eligible violations include speeding, failing to obey traffic control devices, overtaking and cutting in front of another car, following another car too closely or failing to yield the right of way.
If you speed and also commit at least two other aggressive offenses within one mile, you're aggressive in Nevada. These offenses include failing to obey traffic control devices, following too closely, lane violation, failing to yield right of way, and creating an immediate hazard for another vehicle or person. A first-time aggressive driver can spend up to six months in the slammer, pay a $1,000 fine and have their license suspended for up to 30 days.
Under New Jersey law, operating a vehicle in any unsafe manner can land you in the reckless or aggressive category; it's up to the cop who stops you. A common unsafe driving manner is speeding.
You're considered reckless if you're speeding and driving carelessly while doing any two of the following: running a red light or stop sign, illegal passing, failing to yield right of way and following too closely.
A driver is deemed reckless in Virginia if he intends to harass, intimidate, injure or obstruct another person. And don't even think about driving outside of marked lanes, following too closely, failing to yield or stop before entering a roadway - these will have you labeled aggressive in no time.