Nearly 80% of drivers admit to making rude gestures, yelling, honking and other types of angry or aggressive behaviors behind the wheel, according to a new study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
America’s road rage problem
Even more disturbing, the study found about eight million U.S. drivers are guilty of extreme road rage, which can include hitting another car on purpose or getting out of a vehicle to confront a fellow driver.
“Inconsiderate driving, bad traffic and the daily stresses of life can transform minor frustrations into dangerous road rage,” said Jurek Grabowski of 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.”
Top 5 angry and aggressive behaviors
- 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)
- Trying to block another vehicle from changing lanes: 24% (49 million drivers)
Gender and geographic differences
The study found male drivers were more likely than female drivers to engage in aggressive behaviors. And drivers in the Northeast were nearly 30% more likely to have made an angry gesture compared to drivers elsewhere. Due to social stigma, AAA says some drivers who took part in the study may have underreported their own behaviors.
How to prevent a road rage incident
About two-thirds of drivers think aggressive driving is a bigger problem now than it was a few years ago, according to the study, so it’s understandable why you might be concerned about your safety. After all, road rage incidents can lead to serious accidents and even deaths.
AAA provided these three tips to avoid road rage:
- Don’t offend: Never cause another driver to change their speed or direction.
- Be tolerant and forgiving: Don’t take things personal. The other driver may be having a bad day.
- Don’t respond: Avoid eye contact, don’t make gestures, maintain space and call 911 if you have to.
Impact on your auto insurance
While your personal safety is the primary reason to avoid road rage, you should also know that it can impact your auto insurance policy. According to the Insurance Information Institute, road rage is listed as an exemption in many auto insurance policies. So if damage is caused by your reckless behavior, you might have difficulty during the claims process. And obviously, any criminal driving history will increase your monthly premiums.
Do you have road rage?
The AAA study said 78% of drivers admitted to engaging in at least one aggressive driving behavior in the last year. Are you one of those drivers? Progressive has put together a simple test that you can take on your computer to see where you stand. The test is free and you don’t need a policy with Progressive to take it.