The Dangers of Aggressive Driving in Your Fleet (and How to Mitigate It)

Jan 12, 2021 | Business Insurance

It’s the news that no fleet owner wants to hear: your driver has been involved in an accident. Even worse? It was caused by aggressive driving.

Aggressive driving may seem like a small problem at first, but one small mistake can lead to injury, an expensive lawsuit, increased insurance prices, and even death. If you’re the owner of a fleet of vehicles and you want to make sure you’re up to date on aggressive driving education and how to mitigate it in your fleet, keep reading to find out more.

What Qualifies as Aggressive Driving

Aggressive driving, otherwise known as road rage, is any behavior that a driver exhibits that is motivated by anger while driving. Any dangerous driving with anger or frustration as the motivation behind it qualifies as aggressive driving, even if no outward displays of anger are exhibited by the driver.

Some examples of aggressive driving include:

  • Tailgating
  • Speeding
  • Cutting off motorists
  • Not using turn signals
  • Threatening gestures
  • Improper or unexpected lane changing
  • Illegal passing
  • Driving on the road shoulder, ditch, sidewalk, or median
  • Not yielding the right of way
  • Not obeying traffic signs
  • Racing

Aggressive driving is the cause of many car accidents and other crimes, and it’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to problems that happen when people under stress get behind the wheel of a vehicle. It’s dangerous, it’s unacceptable, and it puts everyone, including you, at risk.

Aggressive Driving and the Law

There are laws in place to protect motorists from aggressive driving. Oftentimes, truly aggressive drivers don’t stop at using their vehicle to express their frustrations, they will attempt to intimidate other motorists with threatening gestures and obvious yelling. This and many other behaviors can get your fleet’s drivers in trouble with the law.

They can be ticketed for distracted driving, which happens when the driver doesn’t use appropriate care while operating their vehicle. This endangers other people and their property. Normally, this is used for people driving while talking on their cell phones, but it applies to excessive road rage as well.

Reckless driving is a more serious offense. Any behavior that creates a “willful or wanton disregard for safety or the operation of a vehicle in which you show a willful disregard of consequences” is considered reckless driving.

The Dangers of Aggressive Driving

If a driver in your fleet gets a ticket for either of those offenses, you run the risk of higher insurance prices. However, this is just the beginning of the legal trouble a driver can get into if they drive aggressively, especially if they happen to hurt someone while doing it.

It Can Cause an Accident

Accidents can happen to anyone at any time, even the most careful drivers. There are risks that motorists take every time they get behind the wheel of a car. But when a driver behaves aggressively, they’re increasing that risk.

Even the most experienced, careful drivers can lose control of their vehicle when they’re angry or behaving erratically.

It Can Lead to Injury or Death

In 2018, 51,490 drivers and motorcyclists were involved in fatal crashes that involved the behaviors commonly linked with aggressive driving, from driving too fast to making an improper turn. In the event of an accident where someone is killed, your company can be held responsible no matter who the injured party is.

It Can Raise Your Insurance Prices

Any time one of your drivers gets a ticket, causes an accident, or receives a violation of any kind, your insurance prices are going to go up. And while the protection of life and property is the most important thing to consider when talking about aggressive driving, this is a scenario you want to avoid at all costs. Fleet insurance is already a costly investment.

What Causes Aggressive Driving?

There is no end to the list of things that can set off an aggressive driver. It’s a good idea to first take a look at who is most likely to drive aggressively in order to better understand what causes aggressive driving better.

Men are most often aggressive drivers, and men between the ages of 18-24 make up the majority of aggressive drivers on the road. Additionally, drivers with children and drivers who are on their cell phones are most likely to react aggressively when behind the wheel.

This research isn’t to say that women and older folks aren’t capable of driving aggressively, of course, as anyone can turn into an aggressive driver under the right circumstances.

Here are a few other causes of aggressive driving.

Anger and Frustration

One of the most common causes of aggressive driving is anger and frustration. While this might seem like a normal reaction, it’s important to remember that your drivers are expected to represent you and your company’s message every time they get behind the wheel of a vehicle in your fleet.

There is no “good reason” for exhibiting anger and frustration behind the wheel of a car, especially in such a way that it becomes road rage. Even if your driver was cut off, even if your driver was the victim of road rage first.

Personality Traits

People with antisocial personalities and competitive personalities are more likely to exhibit signs of road rage. When people with these personalities also happen to be men, the likelihood of road rage and aggressive driving rises even further.

Environmental and Situational Factors

Drivers who have been behind the wheel for a while, and especially drivers who are low on sleep, are at a greater risk of developing aggressive behaviors behind the wheel. It’s important to remind your drivers to take breaks during the day, and if your drivers are on the road for more than a day, explain to them how important their sleep is to maintain.

According to Harvard, even a small amount of sleep deprivation can lead to a serious mood change. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania discovered that people who only had 4 hours of sleep a night reported feeling more stressed, angry, and mentally exhausted.

You are doing your drivers, and your fleet, a favor by cultivating an environment that it is safe and acceptable to take regular breaks.

Personal Stress

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you can’t control or even expect the emotional state of your fleet drivers. Personal stress is a huge factor in your drivers’ moods, and no matter how well you try to build a company culture that takes the stress off of drivers, you can’t help their personal stresses.

If you notice that a driver is behaving in a different way and you fear that they may become an aggressive driver, it might be wise to replace them for the day if possible.

How to Mitigate Aggressive Driving in Your Fleet

Now that you know who is most likely to become an aggressive driver and what things might trigger this behavior, you can take steps to protect yourself from it.

Utilize Driver Management Tools

The first thing you can do as a fleet manager is start by rewarding your good drivers. A fleet management tool can help you develop good driving habits and stop accidents before they start.

A good driver management tool will record the behaviors of your drivers and document anything that might pose a risk to your fleet’s safety or cause wear and tear on your vehicles. Speeding and harsh braking are two common things that can cause accidents, especially in aggressive driving.

As the device collects this information, you will begin to notice patterns and see the things that trigger any aggressive behaviors in your drivers.

This isn’t an invasion of a driver’s privacy, it’s a tool that makes it easier for you to provide training and feedback to drivers who run the risk of being aggressive behind the wheel.

Implement the Use of Dashcams

Another great way to keep aggressive driving in check, or to protect your fleet and drivers in the event of an accident that isn’t their fault, is to use a dashcam. The data that a driver management tool gives you is one piece of the puzzle, unless you can understand the context behind the behavior you won’t be able to use it as a learning tool.

A good way to determine whether your driver was behaving aggressively or was the victim of aggressive behavior is to pay attention to the data that the driver management tool gives you and then check the dashcam. If they put on the breaks or swerved to avoid an aggressive driver, you’ll know they weren’t at fault.

This footage can also help you and your drivers in the event of any legal battles that may come after a car accident.

Decrease Stress and Fatigue Levels in Your Fleet

Spending a long time on the road and away from friends and family can lead to high stress and high fatigue. These two factors are a huge cause of aggressive driving.

People who are stressed out are more likely to drive in an aggressive manner or react poorly to certain situations.

To combat this, it’s important that you set up a line of open communication between you and your team. This ensures that your drivers can communicate with you about any problems that arise and any scheduling concerns. You can watch out for signs of stress or dismay, as well.

Another good way to reduce the stress of your drivers is to create checklists for them to complete before and after their shifts. Make sure that everything from equipment management to truck maintenance and anything important they need to remember is on the checklist.

This can help them keep track of everything and eliminates the possibility of forgetting important things that can lead to stress. This keeps your drivers aware and safe.

Make sure your company offers opportunities for advancement. If your drivers are out on the field feeling upset or angry that they’re stuck in a job with no upward growth, they’re more likely to react poorly to situations on the road.

You should also recognize great performers with public recognition and rewards. Thank your drivers at the end of each shift. It’s the small things that go a long way towards happy drivers with less stress who will be more aware of their behavior while they’re on the road.

Show your respect to your fleet drivers and make sure they come to work every day happy to be there, not miserable that they have to be behind the wheel of a car in your fleet.

Driver Education

The best way to prevent aggressive driving in your fleet is to teach drivers how to be self-aware. Go out of your way to educate your fleet drivers about the dangers of driving while stressed and fatigued. Show them how to manage their reactions in a more effective way.

It’s hard for anyone to react with a cool head under pressure, but it’s of absolute importance when your drivers are representing your company.

Anger management courses, compassion training, and regular check-ins are three tools you can implement to keep your drivers calm under all circumstances.

Protect Your Fleet from Aggressive Drivers

Aggressive driving is a liability to your fleet no matter how you look at it. You need to take active steps to understand why people drive aggressively and how to prevent it from happening in the field. The last thing you want is to receive a call that someone has been hurt, or worse, because of an aggressive driving incident that could have been prevented with a little extra training or management.

If you manage a fleet of vehicles and are interested in learning more about how to insure them against anything, contact us today.