Road Rage - Risk and Caution

Aggressive driving is defined as unsafe driving behavior in which an angry or impatient motorist intentionally kills, injures, or attempts to kill another person in a traffic dispute. Road rage, on the other hand, is a much more commonly used and broader term, which describes any driver’s display of aggression, from obscene gestures to roadside physical assault.

While a lot of us may experience momentary road rage, some Americans take it way too far, from driving recklessly to actually following and murdering someone. According to the AAA Foundation, there have been 218 murders and 12,610 injury cases over seven years. How can you stay out of these people’s way, and what can you do to lessen the risks of road rage in your own hometown?

Road Rage – Risk and Caution infographic

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Road Rage Behaviors to Watch Out For

A Breakdown of the Worst and Most Common Aggressive Driving Behaviors, Using Statistics

What Are the Wost Road Rage Behaviors?

Worst Driving Behaviors by Number of Complaints

Taken from 5,500 complaints from a 2013 study

Behavior Number of Complaints
Erratic lane changes 2,888
Speeding 1,563
Hostile gestures 1,325
Tailgating 1,282
Problematic lane usage 734
No turn signal 713
Erratic braking 626
Running red lights/not stopping for pedestrians 469
Blocking 466
Violent display/physically threatening behavior 421

Worst Driving Behaviors by Number of Fatal Accidents

Common road-rage behaviors are in red; statistics are from 2014

Behavior Number of Drivers in Accidents
Speeding 8,360
Driving under the influence 5,492
Failure to keep in proper lane or running off the road 3,770
Failure to yield right of way 3,094
Distracted driving 3,000
Operating vehicle in a careless manner 2,122
Over-correcting/over-steering 1,814
Failure to obey traffic signs, signals, or officer 1,796
Swerving due to wind, slippery surface, or object in roadway 1,510
Drowsy driving 1,309

Most Common Bad Driving Behaviors Experienced

Percentage of motorists who reported being the victim of these behaviors in a British Automobile Association study

Behavior Percentage of Motorists Who Reported It
Tailgating 62
Flashing lights 59
Hostile gestures 48
Being deliberately obstructed 21
Verbal abuse 16
Physical assault 1

What Does an Aggressive Driver Look Like?

Data shows that drivers in speed-related crashes are more often the following:

  • Male
  • Ages 25-40
  • Rural
  • White

A typical angry driver will:

  • Use aggressive behaviors an average of twice per day
  • Take more risks, such as driving 10-20 miles per hour over the speed limit
  • Experience more anxiety and anger
  • Have more accidents, even in simulations
  • Engage in more judgmental and disbelieving thoughts
  • Have high rates of drug and alcohol issues, which can be a deadly combination

Angry drivers and guns are a dangerous combination.

  • Motorists with guns are more likely to make obscene gestures, curse, shout, or use aggressive tailgating.
  • If a motorist has a rifle clearly visible, they are more likely to be honked at.

Where Does Road Rage Happen?

Road Rage Based on the Type of Road

Percentage of motorists who experienced a road rage incident based on where they were

Type of Road Percentage of Motorists
Main road 46
Divided highway 26
Minor road 23
Parking lot 4
Other 2

Worst States for Road Rage

An analysis of #Roadrage Instagram posts by

State Number of Instagram #Roadrage Posts (per 100,000 drivers)
Hawaii 5,872
California 3,506
New York 2,200
New Jersey 2,129
Nevada 2,204

Worst Cities for Road Rage

An analysis of #Roadrage Instagram posts by

  1. Los Angeles, CA
  2. New York City, NY
  3. Mount Pleasant, NC
  4. Chicago, IL
  5. San Diego, CA

What’s the Big Deal?

More than half of all traffic fatalities are due to road rage.

How Can I Calm Down?

  • Listen to music or audiobooks.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to get where you’re going.
  • Avoid heavy traffic by switching around your schedule.
  • Take a few moments to relax before you get into the car.
  • Use meditation methods like breathing deeply while in heavy traffic.
  • Consider public transportation as an alternative.

More Aggressive Driving and Road Rage Statistics

Here are some other road rage facts and aggressive driving statistics that you may find sobering.

  • More than half of all traffic fatalities are due to road rage.
  • Eighty percent of people believe aggressive driving is a serious threat to their safety.
  • Meanwhile, one third of people admit to being perpetrators of road rage.
  • The people who admit they have felt “uncontrollable anger toward another driver” has doubled in ten years.
  • There has been an overall rapid increase in the amount of deadly accidents caused by road rage. In 2004, it was 26, and in 2013, the number that met this criteria rose to 247.

Behaviors to Avoid if You Don’t Want to Become a Victim

These are some of the most common behaviors that set off people, especially angry or aggressive drivers.

  • Driving slowly in the passing lane
  • Tailgating
  • Cutting people off
  • Illegal passing
  • Rude gesturing
  • Flashing your high beams
  • Speeding or racing

Road Rage Common Contributing Factors, According to the NHTSA

What causes road rage? There are numerous contributing factors to bad, aggressive behaviors on the road, but the NHTSA found these to be the most common causes.

  • Running late
  • Traffic delays
  • Anonymity
  • Disregard for others
  • Disregard for the law

What to Do If You’re Confronted

Here are some tips for how to deal with road rage, which may help to defuse the situation before it gets out of hand.

  • Avoid eye contact.
  • Get out of the way when you can.
  • Ignore obscene gestures.
  • Call 911 if you’re worried about your safety.

What to Do if You Have a Problem

What if you’re the one whose blood pressure skyrockets when you see someone cut you off, slip in front of you, or start racing? Take some simple calming measures to chill yourself out. If you still need help, consider anger management training as a better alternative to suffering the negative health effects to yourself as well as the danger you may be putting other drivers in.

It’s time to chill out for the greater good! Use these tips to lower your amount of road rage and make our roads safer as a result.