AAA: Basically Everyone Has Experienced Road Rage

Image courtesy of Tony Fischer Photography

You grip the wheel a bit harder, you huff, and puff, and threaten under your breath to do awful things to the stranger who just cut you off, and then “HOOOOOOONK,” you lay on the horn for a solid 10 second. It’s called road rage, and most American drivers have experienced it, according to a new research report from AAA.

Almost 80% of adult drivers admitted to expressing significant anger, aggression, or road rage in the past year, AAA says.

That behavior can take a lot of forms, including purposefully tailgating (51%, 104 million drivers); yelling at another driver (47%, 95 million drivers); honking to show annoyance or anger (45%, 91 million drivers); making angry gestures (33%, 67 million drivers); and cutting off another vehicle on purpose (12%, 24 million drivers), among other things.

Other more confrontational actions are a bit more rare, with only 4%, or 7.6 million drivers, admitting to getting out of the vehicle to yell at someone, and 3% (5.7 million drivers) saying they’ve bumped or rammed that vehicle on purpose.

Men are three times more likely than to engage in aggressive behavior than women, and drivers in the Northeast will probably yell, honk, or gesture angrily more than people living elsewhere in the country. And those who reported other unsafe driving behaviors, like speeding or running red lights, were also were more likely to show aggression. For example: drivers who reported speeding on a freeway in the past month were four times more likely to have cut off another vehicle on purpose, AAA noted.

About two thirds of drivers believe aggressive driving is a bigger problem today than three years ago, the report says, while 90% think aggressive drivers are a serious threat to their personal safety.

What this all boils down to is potential danger on the road, AAA says.

“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.”

To help prevent road rage, AAA offers a few tips, like not causing another driver to have to change their speed or direction, being tolerant and forgiving — because hey, maybe that guy just had a bad day — and when all else fails, avoiding eye contact and maintaining space around your vehicle.