Road ragers are a menace; here’s what to (not) do

Male drivers were more than three times as likely as female drivers to have gotten out of a vehicle to confront another driver. CONTRIBUTED
Male drivers were more than three times as likely as female drivers to have gotten out of a vehicle to confront another driver. CONTRIBUTED

February is Aggressive Driving Awareness month and AAA is partnering with the City of Dayton Police Department to help keep motorists safe. 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 recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Police say aggressive driving is a major threat to traffic safety.

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“Since last year there has been a 25 percent increase in the number of crashes caused by red light runners, a dangerous form of aggressive driving” said Dayton Police Department Major Wendy Stiver. “These crashes have been caused, in some cases, by drivers who have purposely run red lights, sometimes at very high rates of speed, causing fatalities as well as serious injuries and property damage.”

AAA recommends drivers avoid jackrabbit starts from traffic signals and encourages drivers to scan in all directions before moving into the intersection.

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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. Other findings about driver behavior include:

• 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.

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What you should do

AAA and Dayton Police offer these tips to help 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.

Are you an aggressive driver? Visit AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Website and take the quiz.

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.

Every month in Life, Cindy Antrican, public affairs manager for AAA Allied Group, Inc., provides traffic safety tips and information for motorists. Email: