For a group of college friends, a trip to Cocoa Beach in Florida was meant to be a stress-free getaway.

Meghan Levesque was visiting her sister Courtnay with a few of her former sorority sisters in the popular vacation town. But when one of the girls noticed a group of men harassing a gay couple, the women couldn’t stay silent.

“They were throwing things at this gay couple,” says Levesque, who now lives in Maine. “They were saying ‘you need to leave.’ So my sister’s friend Christina went over and said something.”

The women thought the altercation had ended there, but as they returned to their car in the parking lot, they noticed the group of men was trailing behind.

 “They all started following us,” says Meghan, who urged her friends to walk as fast as possible to their car. “Screaming at us, saying ‘you better walk away.’”

After pulling out of the lot and nearing the interstate, they noticed the group of men had followed them in a beat-up truck. The men drove in closer and closer, beeping the horn and screaming out the windows, while driving only inches behind the girls’ car.

“They pulled up next to us, trying to get us to push over into the oncoming traffic lane,” says Meghan, whose friend was able to call 911. “They pulled up to the right of us.”

And while Meghan’s story sounds unique, the truth is that aggressive driving is much more common on the roads than one would expect. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, an average of at least 1,500 men, women, and children are injured or killed each year in the US as a result of "aggressive driving."

These days, many states are cracking down on aggressive drivers in the hopes of curtailing accidents. Following Arizona’s establishment of aggressive driving laws in 1998, several other states have enacted new legislation to protect residents.  In 2012, over 220,000 speeding citations were issued in Massachusetts alone, and the rules are only going to become tougher.

In the event that you’re faced with an aggressive or dangerous driver, it’s suggested that you follow this four-part set of instructions.

  1. Control your emotions to avoid escalating the situation.
  2. Attempt to safely get out of his or her way.
  3. Avoid eye contact or obscene gestures.
  4. If a serious incident occurs, immediately contact the nearest police agency by safely dialing 911.

Los Angeleno Nina Wilkinson demonstrated those rules one summer day as she drove down the 10 freeway near Fontana, part of the complex LA freeway system.

“It's not the safest stretch of highway, but it's not downtown Baghdad either,” says Nina, who now lives in San Francisco. “I was next to the fast lane doing about 78-80.”

Soon, Nina saw a man in a Cadillac Seville tailgating her, and becoming progressively angrier that she wouldn’t move over. But with a minivan slowing down the fast lane for everyone, the man couldn’t pass on the left.

“He got an opening in the lane to my right,” says Nina of the four-lane highway. “And then cut in front of me and then slowed down, nearly causing me to hit him.”

Nina thought the incident was over, until the man leaned over to his passenger seat.

“He pulled out a gun and waved it in front of the rear view mirror so I could see it clearly,” Nina recalls.

In shock, Nina slowed down, moved over a lane, and waited until the man got off the highway two exits later before she resumed her previous speed.

“Needless to say, I'm definitely more cautious when driving through Southern California and LA now,” says Nina. “There are just too many crazies out on the road.”

While many would expect insurance to automatically cover the cost of the damages incurred as a victim of road rage, that isn’t always the case. Be sure to research your specific policy, and examine what your insurance company’s history is when dealing with victims of aggressive driving. And even though the stories of road rage victims are a dime a dozen, experts say it’s highly likely that you’ve been on the front end as well. Speeding, tailgating, and weaving in and out of lanes are all offenses that fall under the category of aggressive driving, and insurance companies are increasing rates as a result. And if you find yourself to be a perpetrator in the case of an accident, your insurance company may not help you cover the damages.