JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – This time of year, when more people are on the roadway to visit family, attend holiday parties or go holiday shopping, we often warn folks about drunk driving.
But experts say there’s another threat to motorists this time of year: road rage.
Experts say road rage can quickly escalate and turn costly: taking your freedom and skyrocketing your insurance rates -- but also possibly costing your life.
“I can think of several situations here in the Jacksonville area where road rage was the result of a serious traffic crash,” Florida Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Dylan Bryan said.
Authorities anticipate road rage this time of year because there are more people on the road who are all trying to quickly get from point A to point B.
Experts say the current COVID-19 pandemic is forcing more people to travel this holiday weekend by car rather than by airplane. This means we can expect to see heavy traffic on the highways and on roadways near the malls.
Bryan said this is when cases of road rage begin to increase. This is also when drivers have to prepare for slower moving traffic.
“Allow additional time, especially during the heavily traveled holidays, Bryan warned. “Expect delays. If it’s something you’re expecting, it won’t be that much of an issue once you encounter that.”
Bryan is also stressing patience to avoid the escalation of violence on the roadway.
“It doesn’t hurt to let the other guy go. Don’t get into this argument or altercation on a roadside because these issues can quickly escalate,” Bryan said.
The case of Ana Jimenez, 23, serves as an example of what can happen when you lose your cool behind the wheel. She was recently charged with second-degree murder after investigators said her road rage resulted in one person dying, three people being injured and five vehicles damaged.
Investigators said it all started from a hit-and-run crash inside a parking lot then it turned into a deadly chase that ended when six cars collided.
“It was a snowball effect. This was something that could have very easily been de-escalated,” Bryan said.
Drivers we spoke with at a local rest station anticipate craziness on the roadways this holiday weekend.
“People are frustrated because they can’t fly. When you got to drive vs. flying to get there in an hour or two and now you’re taking four to five hours, a few people might get ticked,” Miami driver Joy Major said.
Driver Auston Bryant from Augusta, Georgia, said being alert is essential.
“You see some people driving crazy man, so you got to pay attention,” Bryant said.
The Zebra, an insurance comparison company based out of Texas, recently conducted a study in which they spoke with people who were arrested and ticketed for road rage. The study revealed 82% of the drivers admitted to aggressive driving or road rage.
Nicole Beck, a spokesperson for the Zebra, said most people don’t realize the financial toll of being cited for road rage.
“First, you’re going to get a ticket from the police. Then your insurance company is going to find out and raise your rate on average a thousand dollars a year,” Beck said. “That’s a 70% hike for the next three years.”
Beck said that 70% hike is the insurance company’s way of telling you that you’re not a responsible driver.
A citation for road rage will actually cause your insurance rates to increase more than if you got caught driving drunk, and in some case, insurance companies will no longer insure you.