Study: Road rage is common

Staff Report

COLUMBUS – Nearly eight out of 10 U.S. drivers expressed significant anger, aggression or road rage behind the wheel at least once in the past year, according to new AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety research.

Previous research has found that more than 50 percent of fatal crashes involve some form of aggressive driving. Drivers believe aggressive driving is dangerous, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety:

  • Nine out of 10 drivers say aggressive drivers are a serious threat to their personal safety.
  • Nearly two-thirds of drivers say aggressive driving is a bigger problem than three years ago.

Prevalence of Aggressive Driving:

Nearly 80 percent of U.S. drivers said they’ve engaged in at least one of the following angry and aggressive behaviors in the past year:

  • Purposefully tailgating: 51 percent
  • Yelling at another driver: 47 percent
  • Honking to show annoyance or anger: 45 percent
  • Making angry gestures: 33 percent
  • Trying to block another vehicle on purpose: 24 percent
  • Cutting off another vehicle on purpose: 12 percent
  • Getting out of the vehicle to confront another driver: 4 percent
  • Bumping or ramming another vehicle on purpose: 3 percent

“Inconsiderate driving, bad traffic and the daily stresses of life can transform minor frustrations into dangerous road rage,” said Jurek Grabowski, director of research for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Far too many drivers are losing themselves in the heat of the moment and lashing out in ways that could turn deadly.”

Aggressive driving and road rage varies among drivers:

  • Male drivers and younger drivers, ages 19-39, were significantly more likely to engage in aggressive behaviors.
  • Drivers living in the Northeast were significantly more likely to yell, honk or gesture angrily than people living in other parts of the country.
  • Drivers who reported other unsafe behaviors behind the wheel, such as speeding or running red lights, were also more likely to show aggression.

Tips to Prevent Road Rage:

  • Don’t Offend: Never cause another driver to change their speed or direction. That means not forcing another driver to use their brakes or turn the steering wheel in response to something you’ve done.
  • Be Tolerant and Forgiving: The other driver may just be having a really bad day. Assume that it’s not personal.
  • Do Not Respond: Avoid eye contact, don’t make gestures, maintain space around your vehicle and contact 9-1-1 if needed.

“It’s completely normal for drivers to experience anger behind the wheel, but we must not let our emotions lead to destructive choices,” said Jake Nelson, AAA’s director of Traffic Safety Advocacy and Research. “Don’t risk escalating a frustrated situation, because you never know what the other driver might do.”

Staff Report