AAA report: Majority of motorists admit aggressive driving

8 in 10 expressed significant anger, aggression or road rage in past year

An alarmingly high number of drivers, nearly eight in 10, admitted to significant anger, aggression or road rage behind the wheel in the past year, according to a study released today by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Nine out of 10 motorists said aggressive drivers are a serious threat, while 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, according to the report.

“Normal everyday frustrations such as stress, heavy traffic and rude drivers can escalate into alarming road rage situations,” said AAA spokeswoman Cindy Antrican. “When drivers find their tempers rising it’s important to make an effort to stay calm, and remember the old count to 10 rule before responding aggressively. Tense situations can quickly erupt into dangerous situations when both drivers respond belligerently.”

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American drivers reported the following behaviors, according to the study’s 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)

Aggressive driving and road rage varied considerably among drivers.

Male and younger drivers ages 19-39 were significantly more likely to engage in aggressive behaviors. For example, male drivers were more than three times as likely as female drivers to have gotten out of a vehicle to confront another driver or rammed another vehicle on purpose.

Drivers who reported other unsafe behaviors behind the wheel, such as speeding and running red lights, 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, the study found.

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 have 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.

The research report is available on the AAA Foundation’s website and is part of the annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, which identifies attitudes and behaviors related to driver safety. The data was collected from a national survey of 2,705 licensed drivers ages 16 and older who reported driving in the past 30 days. The AAA Foundation issued its first Traffic Safety Culture Index in 2008.

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