Nearly 80 percent of drivers expressed significant anger, aggression or road rage behind the wheel at least once in the past year, according to a new study released today by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The most alarming findings suggest that approximately eight million U.S. drivers engaged in extreme examples of road rage, including purposefully ramming another vehicle or getting out of the car to confront another driver.
A significant number of U.S. drivers reported engaging in angry and aggressive behaviors over the past year, according to study estimates:
- Purposefully tailgating: 51 percent (104 million drivers)
- Yelling at another driver: 47 percent (95 million drivers)
- Honking to show annoyance or anger: 45 percent (91 million drivers)
- Making angry gestures: 33 percent (67 million drivers)
- Trying to block another vehicle from changing lanes: 24 percent (49 million drivers)
- Cutting off another vehicle on purpose: 12 percent (24 million drivers)
- Getting out of the vehicle to confront another driver: 4 percent (7.6 million drivers)
- Bumping or ramming another vehicle on purpose: 3 percent (5.7 million drivers)
Speeding is often one component of aggressive driving, which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines as “committing a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property. PennDOT reports that speeding is a large contributor of fatal crashes. In 2015, PennDOT says there were 33,176 crashes that were speed-related with 467 fatal crashes. Tailgating is also highlighted as a contributing factor of crashes by PennDOT. In 2015 tailgating contributed to 5,829 crashes in Pennsylvania, five of them fatal.
Nearly 2 in 3 drivers believe that aggressive driving is a bigger problem today than three years ago, while nine out of ten believe aggressive drivers are a serious threat to their personal safety.
AAA offers these tips to help prevent road rage:
- Don’t Offend: You can protect yourself by avoiding behaviors that can enrage other drivers. Examples include cutting off other drivers, driving slowly in the passing lane, tailgating, not using turn signals, honking horn excessively, and gesturing – whether obscene or not.
- Do Not Respond: Refuse to be angry at an aggressive driver. Avoid eye contact, don’t make gestures, and maintain space around your vehicle. If you feel threatened, contact 9-1-1. Drive to a crowded public place such as a shopping center, hospital or police station.
- Adjust Your Attitude: By changing your approach to driving, you can make every trip more pleasant.
- Alter Schedule to Avoid Traffic: If possible, adjust your work schedule so you are not driving during peak commute hours. If this is not possible, then at least avoid driving during high traffic times on your days off.
- Be Tolerant and Forgiving: The other driver may just be having a really bad day. Assume that it’s not personal.