America is the Land of the Free (and the Aggressive, Road-Raging Driver): Study

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

A study of self-reported aggressive driving behavior finds that your neighbor, brother, wife and child are angry and violent behind the wheel. But not you.

The statistics found in the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s report are alarming, and, without stating it explicitly, advocate for more yoga. According to the study, almost 80 percent of U.S. drivers displayed at least one incident of “significant” aggression, anger or road rage during the past year.

The study was conducted in 2014, and surveyed 2,705 drivers aged 16 or older who had driven in the past month. Results are broken down into both percentages and actual numbers, just to give us a good sense of how many angry drivers are actually out there.

Tailgating another vehicle on purpose (that’ll show ’em!) was the most popular way to express roadway disagreement, with 51 percent of drivers (104 million people) admitting to at least one instance. 47 percent of us yelled at another driver, while 45 percent of drivers let their horn do the talking. Angry gestures, including the time-honored flipping of the bird, came in at 33 percent of drivers, or 67 million drivers people.

“Inconsiderate driving, bad traffic and the daily stresses of life can transform minor frustrations into dangerous road rage,” said Jurek Grabowski, the foundation’s director of research, in a statement. “Far too many drivers are losing themselves in the heat of the moment and lashing out in ways that could turn deadly.”

Yelling and extending the middle digit on your free hand is a commonplace thing and doesn’t often strike fear into other drivers’ hearts, but dangerous vehicle maneuvers boost the aggression — and danger.

The study found that 24 percent of respondents tried to block a vehicle from changing lanes, 12 percent cut off a vehicle on purpose, four percent got out of a vehicle to confront another driver (which always ends well), and three percent actually bumped or rammed another vehicle on purpose. If the sample is representative of the entire country’s habits, that means 5.7 million drivers use their vehicle as a ram each year.

Men and people under 40 get a bad rap in the study, with statistics showing increased levels of aggressive driving behavior, but so do the enlightened denizens of America’s Northeast. Drivers in that section of the country were “significantly more likely” to make other drivers aware of their feelings.

Maybe this autonomous vehicle stuff isn’t as nerdy and pointless as some people think.

[Image: joiseyshowaa/ Flickr]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Doublechili Doublechili on Jul 15, 2016

    I think we need an article about guns so that we can have a meaningful discussion of road rage. Perhaps then we can come to the logical conclusion that road rage is caused by Bush/Cheney and the racism inherent in our Constitution.

  • Sportyaccordy Sportyaccordy on Jul 15, 2016

    I do everything but ram people and purposely cut people off on what feels like a daily basis. I think I may have a problem. My big gripes are trucks and people who will just ride side by side with someone else on a 2 lane. Ramming people and road rage in general is stupid, but a lot of it would be eliminated if Americans exercised more lane discipline/etiquette. When I drove in Italy it was orgasmic. Trucks stayed all the way to the right; slower cars stayed in the middle, left lanes were reserved purely for passing if traffic allowed it. Here in America, gosh dern it Im payin fer all the lanes, and if I wanna go 2 under the limit then you do too buddy. And if yer dewnt loike it, my buddies Smith N Wesson can help yer see my dern point of view. As a Northeasterner I get why road rage is so high up there. It's a miserable place to live and drive. Too many people, not enough road.

    • Doublechili Doublechili on Jul 15, 2016

      I feel your pain. Ever take Psych 101? I recall a famous study where they put too many rats in a confined maze, and they exhibited irrational and aggressive behavior as a result. Many parts of the Northeast = too many rats in the maze. Road rage is one result. BTW, you make a good point about what I'll call "passive road rage". Excepting the clueless, in many cases the person driving 2 under the limit in the left lane is a passive road-rager.

  • Lou_BC Too much money.
  • Lou_BC "The Cannonball Run" "The Gumball Rally""Corvette Summer""Duel""Gone in 60 Seconds"
  • Wjtinfwb I really don't care about charging stations, EVs, their drivers or the issues that seem to plague them and the ownership experience. My use case requires much better range and fueling options than what EVs offer, at least current state. If an EV works for you, great. It doesn't work for me and that's OK as well. hat I object to however, is the Government involvement in a personal use decision and trying to force a technology into widespread adoption when it and its support network is clearly not ready. I also object to Federal dollars, gleaned from the taxpayers being used to subsidize this nascent technology and most importantly, I object to the gaslighting by the Administration that tries to convince consumers that range isn't an issue. Recharging isn't an issue. Cold weather isn't an issue. Fires aren't an issue. The ownership experience disappointment is validated by the poor resale value of EV's and the McKinsey report that states that 50% of EV owners plan to switch back to a gas powered vehicle. I don't have the disposable income to make a 40k mistake and take a beating on getting rid of it. But again, if it works for you, that's what matters. Cheers.
  • MKizzy The top executives of many of the Fortune 500 companies support GOP candidates with their votes and donations while happily filling their corporate coffers with Progressive dollars. Unlike Musk however, they're smart enough to at least try to keep it to themselves. Perhaps Musk's political openness combined with his seemingly declining interest in Tesla is a sign he'll abandon Tesla by the end of the decade.
  • Jpolicke I don't know of any gas stations with a single pump.