Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Share Stories  |  Traffic  |  Columns  |  Q&A     |  Get Gridlock:    Twitter |    Facebook  |     RSS   |  phone Alerts

Does Ad Encourage Road Rage?

Dear Dr. Gridlock:
What do you think about the commercial on TV by Nationwide Insurance Co. that shows the minor accident that develops into road rage?

The elderly woman gets out of her car and with her purse beats the fellow when he tries to apologize. In my opinion it should be taken off the air considering the many deaths that have developed from road rage.
Alouise Berg

"Forgive you? I've got your forgiveness right here!" the senior citizen says as she begins to bash the careless driver with her large purse. (See the ad on this page.)

I don't recommend that sort of behavior to anyone -- but it's my favorite television ad. It's cathartic to watch her whack the knuckehead who just crashed into her parked car.

"Not everyone is as forgiving as Nationwide Insurance," the announcer says, in conveying the point of the commercial.

Berg's point is a serious one, and I appreciate her concern about how easy it is to spread the virus of road rage. It's simple to transmit and tends to recur.

This is very common advice for avoiding road rage:
* Leave yourself enough time for the drive. Anxiety contributes to road rage.
* Don't take it personally. You don't have to prove anything to a complete stranger.
* Don't let issues that have nothing to do with driving cloud your judgment in reacting to a traffic incident.
* Get some sleep. Tired drivers are prone to be irritable. So don't stay up late watching insurance commercials.

Some sources of that advice:
Top 10 Tips to Prevent Road Rage at
Road Rage at AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
The Symptons of Road Rage by Dr. Leon James, University of Hawaii

By Robert Thomson  |  March 3, 2009; 1:27 PM ET
Categories:  Driving , Safety  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Metro Riders Respond on Service Cuts
Next: New Beltway Ramp Opening in Prince George's


I too dislike it for the same reason. For me this starts the slippery slope to accepting road rage as okay. It conditions people to view road rage sympathetically and making the unacceptable understandable and justifiable leads to acceptance. This is why some of the worst cases of bigotry are so hard to rid ourselves of. Although people pay lip-service to the denouncement of bigotry, too often, we don't deal with the underlying acceptance of stereotypes that feed the bigotry. Don't let road rage become acceptable. Get rid of the ad.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | March 3, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

My first instinct upon seeing this ad was that we shouldn't accept road rage.

But my SECOND instinct was that the jerk who caused the accident deserved a beating, because he didn't just tap the old lady's car and then back off - he hit her, saw that he was hitting her, and intentionally kept going because getting into that parking space was more important to him than respecting the woman's property or safety.

To me, that's the bigger sin of this commercial. The commercial guy is a total jerk who apparently thinks he can get away with whatever as long as he apologizes after. The message we SHOULD be sending is that drivers should be responsible for their actions.

Posted by: Cirrus42 | March 3, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

I agree with your second instinct. That ad makes me glad I DON'T have Nationwide -- because that guy's premiums SHOULD go up, and as a fellow customer I would not want my premiums subsidizing his forgiveness. In that sense, I can't tell who is the commercial's target audience.

Posted by: Janine1 | March 3, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

With all due respect to everyone, I believe you all are taking this ad way too seriously!!!

Posted by: johnsda | March 3, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

my main objection to the ad is the premise of Nationwide's policy (Allstate too, I think) that no one is responsible for what they do on the road, that "accidents" happen and good ol' Nationwide is there to take care of it. Guess what, folks, the overwhelming majority of "accidents" are anything but. Rather they are crashes caused by drivers going too fast, running red lights, not paying attention (e.g, talking on a cell phone), etc. But to Nationwide, they're all one and the same, just an accident to be forgiven. They even ran an ad 2-3 years ago showing a driver who had a wreck while scratching a lottery ticket instead of watching where she was going. And what type of responsible driving does that promote?

Posted by: eomcmars | March 3, 2009 4:20 PM | Report abuse

It's a freaking commercial. I surely hope you don't base your driving habits on what happens in a commercial?

That said, don't drive in a way that causes road rage. Remember, everyone else on the road is trying to get somewhere too. Don't weave in and out of traffic, cut people off, or travel up the center lane at stop lights then try to merge. Don't try to get across three lanes of traffic to suddenly get to your exit, don't travel slowly in the left lane, and use your darn signal so other drivers know what you are trying to do.

Posted by: epjd | March 3, 2009 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Cirrus-42, I've done a very similar stupid thing as the guy in the commercial. The problem is that by the time you get the car stopped, you are halfway past the other car. So, do you pull back out, knowing that you are going to cause even more damage on the way back out, maybe even locking your bumpers? Or push the rest of the way in, and hope that this minimizes the damage? Darned if you do, and darned if you don't. As for responsibility, the next thing I did after a heartfelt apology, was exchange insurance information to begin the process of getting the damage fixed. What is irresponsible about apologizing first?

Posted by: jcflack1 | March 3, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

jcflack1 - I don't know what happened to you, but if Commercial Guy had been going at reasonable parking lot speed he'd have been able to stop and pull back before getting halfway past the other car.

It's not that he's a jerk just for pushing through; he's also a jerk for driving too fast in a parking lot. Either way, that character was driving irresponsibly.

Posted by: Cirrus42 | March 3, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

What a tempest in a teapot! Remember the first rule of adverts. Get their attention. You will remember Nationwide. Does the caveman dancing ad have any relevancy to insurance? Hardly, but you will remember the name Geico.

Posted by: Geezer4 | March 3, 2009 5:38 PM | Report abuse

To me, that's the bigger sin of this commercial. The commercial guy is a total jerk who apparently thinks he can get away with whatever as long as he apologizes after. The message we SHOULD be sending is that drivers should be responsible for their actions.

Posted by: Cirrus42 | March 3, 2009 3:25 PM


He was being responsible. He didn't hit and run. The guy got out of his and starts to apologize. The old woman (with her husband yelling encouragement to her in the background) starts wailing away at the guy. He never had a chance to say or do anything else but apologize.

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | March 3, 2009 5:45 PM | Report abuse

That commercial is hilarious!

People are taking that commercial way too seriously. Anything the driver did wrong was WRITTEN IN HIS SCRIPT. Anyone who engages in road rage after seeing that commercial would have engaged in road rage anyway.

Don't give people any irresponsible ideas like blaming their behavior on a tv commercial.

Posted by: dcpsinsider | March 3, 2009 8:07 PM | Report abuse

Johnsda & EPJD are dead on. It's a COMMERCIAL meant to be a joke, folks...

Posted by: vtavgjoe | March 4, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

When I was a kid, I used to watch Saturday morning cartoons. You know, the Road Runner being chased by Wile E. Coyote, Daffy Duck being chased by Elmer Fudd, Jerry being chased by Tom, Bugs...well, you get the point. And somehow, after all these years, I've managed to resist the overpowering urge to drop anvils on peoples' heads.

Message: Do you really think people derive their standards of behavior from silly 30-second (or 5-minute) vignettes? Really?

Posted by: bnlight | March 5, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company