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Putting the brakes on aggressive driving’s exorbitant cost

Written by Jeffrey Steele - 5 Comments

According to a new survey from Insure.com, the most expensive 2014 car to insure in the United States is the $110,000 Nissan GT-R Track Edition, which requires a few bucks less than $3,200 in premiums to cover for 12 months.

The super car is better known in some quarters as “Godzilla,” for it is a monster that emigrates from Japan. Sporting a twin turbocharged V6 engine that boasts 545 horsepower, the lighting quick GT-R Track Edition rockets from zero to 60 in a scant three seconds, and touches speeds of 190 to 200 miles per hour.

So what kind of person buys and drives Godzilla? A well-heeled one no doubt. But also a guy, for it is inevitably a male buyer, who just adores aggression.

We’re not talking just about aggressiveness on the track, either. GT-R buyers don’t shell out that many simoleons to dawdle in the slow lane when running for a quart of milk at the local convenience store.

And therein lies the reason for the high cost of insurance. It’s not just the GT-R’s many carbon components, which if damaged in a wreck can only be replaced, never repaired, that propels its premiums into the auto insurance cosmos.

“It’s flat-out brilliant to drive,” Santa Barbara, Calif.-based John Pearley Huffman, who writes for Car & Driver, told me recently. “It’s driven by people who like to drive fast, and it’s expensive . . . It’s a fantastic car, and I believe it to be an easy-to-handle car. But the consequences of screwing up at 150 miles per hour are radically different than screwing up at 50 miles per hour.”

Ubiquitous aggression

In the working class neighborhood I call home, I can’t recall ever seeing a GT-R. People here are a bit too concerned about making their next mortgage note and funding Friday’s family dinner at Red Lobster to shell out for a six-figure super car. But I glimpse drivers on a daily basis who’d be right at home behind the wheel of one. These motorists, male and female, are in such hurry to get where they’re going that speed limit signs might just as well read “Any Speed You Like.”

The hallmarks of these domineering drivers are known to us all. They’re laying rubber at the sight of a red light turning green. They’re throttling to a stop sign or red light so they can stomp the brakes and skid 250 feet to a halt. They’re the ones — on dry pavement or black ice — who tailgate so near your rear bumper you can count their inflamed facial pores in your rear view mirror.

You’ll see them abruptly sliding across multiple lanes to reach three car-lengths of open road, turning right from the left lane, cutting off other motorists without so much as a turn signal, and appearing intent on making your stretch of asphalt into an open-road triage center bathed in the flashing lights of first-responders.

And, as I noted, speed limits don’t apply when they’re in the driver’s seat. When I hear yet another traffic report about an eight-car pileup, featuring overturned vehicles, rolled-over buses and jackknifed semis, I inevitably say to myself, “Well, at least no one was driving above the speed limit.”

Yeah, right.

High aggression, high costs

Watch the countless aggressive drivers on the byways, and you begin to sense how little saving money means to so many American motorists. These clearly aren’t people carefully searching for a high-yield savings account, the best credit cards or strategies to better save for retirement.

Let us count just some of the ways aggressive driving can put the raging road warrior into the poor house.

Insurance costs. You may recoil at the notion of spending an average of $3,167 a year on auto insurance, as GT-R owners do. But your insurance will bolt northward with every speeding ticket and reckless driving ticket — which are expensive in and of themselves — and accident you rack up. Studies show a reckless driving ticket sends car insurance rates up by 22 percent. Wouldn’t punching a speed bag be a less expensive way to get out your aggression?

Gasoline costs. According to a recent article by Laura Mauney in Renewable Energy World Magazine, tailgating requires hard-braking and re-acceleration, both of which unnecessarily burn fuel. If these maneuvers waste 10 percent of gas in a tank, that will add up to $9 for every gasoline fill-up of a 25-gallon tank at today’s gasoline prices. If a tailgating motorist fills up every week, that brings the unnecessary cost to $460 per year, or eight additional 25-gallon fill-ups yearly.

All in all, jackrabbit starts and hard-braking can increase fuel consumption by up to 40 percent, Mauney states.

Wear and tear. Hard-braking is associated with earlier demise of brake pads and drums. On the whole, aggressive driving just wears down a vehicle more quickly, resulting in more frequent visits with the mechanic for costly repairs.

And don’t forget to throw in the cost to society — meaning all of us — of thousands of needless motorist and pedestrian injuries and deaths each year, and the impact on the environment of unnecessary auto emissions.

When you do, it’s evident that about the only thing more frightening than the high cost of aggressive driving is a surprise visit by Godzilla.

The original one.

Published on March 12th, 2014 - 5 Comments
Filed under: Automotive

About the author: is an independent writer in Chicago who has written over 2,000 articles appearing in publications such as Barron's, Boston Globe, Chicago Sun-Times, LA Times, and more.

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5 Responses to “Putting the brakes on aggressive driving’s exorbitant cost”

  1. 1
    Nick | Millionaires Giving Money Says:

    I have a on board monitor given by by insurance company to measure how well I drive. This has pushed my premiums down even further and has helped me save more money. Great post, thanks for sharing.

  2. 2
    Hannah Says:

    The generalizations made in this post that GT-R drivers must be aggressive males are ridiculous and offensive.

  3. 3
    Terry Says:

    I’ve observed fewer women than men driving supersports cars. More men than women are interested in a car like the GT-R. Of those women that I’ve seen driving a super car, they were less aggressive on the roads than the men. Insurance companies know this, because of, you know, math. Actuaries and stuff.

    Trust me, if I owned this car, I would drive the pants off of it. Actually, Hannah, I’d say these generalizations are pretty much spot on. He’s made the point that likely owners of the GT-R are aggressively-driving males. This is backed up by insurance industry data. To whom is this offensive?

  4. 4
    Nick | Millionaires Giving Money Says:

    I agree with Terry, most of the data is backed up from insurance industry data. Also I have never seen a women GTR driver as much as I have seen a man driving a GTR. I’m all for woman’s liberation and burning underwear but this is nuts.

  5. 5
    Colin Says:

    This thread is clearly written by someone who dosen’t see a lot of exotic high performance cars on the road. I live in the Houston Area and frequent many large urban areas around the world. I see GT-Rs, many 911s, Ferrari’s, bently’s. These cars are rarely if ever driven fast on public roads. Folks who buy them are looking for status symbols and want everyone to know they own such a car. Consequently they drive slowly in them because they want to be seen, and make sure they are parked in front of what ever business/house they are visiting. The insurance is high because the cars are expensive, not because they are driven aggressively.

    The “cars” I most often seen driven aggressively are diesel pickups and minivans (pissed off dads). I also see a lot of aggressive SUV drivers, in the sense that they think other cars will get out of their way so they have no issues pulling out in front of 50mph traffic going slowly.

    I do agree with the premise of the article that aggressive driving costs money. But it ain’t way the GTR is expensive to drive.

    Oh one other thing, the folks I associate with who one GTRs and other “race” cars track em. They have the money and the means to race them on race tracks and do so. But typically their race car isn’t their daily driver for a lot of reasons.

    A lot of those guys have dedicated track time, garages and even condo’s on the race track for their weekend racers.

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