By on April 19, 2017

road rage (zlady/Flickr)

Warm spring weather seems to have motorists in northern New Jersey acting on their not-so-best behavior. So much so, that a local American Automobile Association branch has issued a plea urging motorists to avoid road rage and “resulting driver confrontations.”

The Situation needs to simmer down.

“In the past few weeks, we have noticed that road rage incidents are increasingly in the news,” said David Hughes, President and CEO of AAA North Jersey, in a release. The organization has released a list of tips — don’t offend, be tolerant and forgiving, don’t respond — that could also prove useful in non-automotive situations.

Riding public transit and meeting your significant other’s family for the first time comes to mind.

Years ago, New Jersey enacted its #77 aggressive driver hotline to clamp down on instances of road-bound hotheads, and just recently expanded that tool to enforce distracted driving. The state added the feature after seeing an 8 percent rise in traffic fatalities in 2016.

While tempers flare amongst drivers trying to get out of state (or just to Newark), the Garden State isn’t alone in its ragey-ness. A survey of American drivers published last year by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety revealed that nearly 80 percent of drivers pop a vein behind the wheel in a given year. That’s the number of people who displayed at least one incident of “significant” aggression, anger or road rage.

The most popular way of expressing displeasure with another motorist is through tailgating, the survey found. All it takes for that situation to go south is a quick brake check by the leading motorist. Yelling and bashing the horn came in a close second.

New Jerseyans can take solace in one fact: they’re not in Florida. That state posted the highest number of gun-involved road rage incidents over the past two years (146), according to gun violence tracking website The Trace.

[Image: zlady/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)]

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32 Comments on “Try to Avoid Offending Other Motorists, AAA Warns North Jersey Drivers...”

  • avatar

    Based on the RHD image, are you sure you don’t mean the Isle of Jersey?

    • 0 avatar

      I thought New Jersey was different, but, *that* different?

      Update: Given that she’s wearing what looks like a wedding band on her ring finger, I’m wondering if the image is reversed.

    • 0 avatar

      Ha ha . I was thinking something similar.

      • 0 avatar

        Flipped Image – happens to the best. I recall as a teen reading the letters to the editor in Hot Rod magazine and someone writing to chew them out over a flipped under hood image that had run in the magazine. The reader caught it because the brake booster was on the wrong side of the firewall.

        • 0 avatar

          I would be far more enthused if it was about driving a vintage RHD import in the US. Nissan Pao? Old Rover?

          I literally clicked in this article just because of the pic. I wanted to see the comments on it and comment myself. Obviously. :)

    • 0 avatar
      Secret Hi5

      Is using a flipped image for avoiding copyright issues?

  • avatar

    NJ is the most densely populated state in the country, and northern NJ is even more dense than southern NJ. In some ways, northeast NJ is like the 6th borough of NYC. Lots of people in NJ spend 1-2hrs each way commuting into NYC. That’s a lot of time in the car to build up stress. Giving the finger is considered one of the more polite gestures on the road.

    All that combined leads to some very interesting traffic.

    • 0 avatar


      Anywhere on the east coast, the whole p*ssed off driver suite – honking horns, raised middle fingers, shouting, etc – is like Pig Latin. It’s an alternative form of communication.

      Here in Colorado, if you honk at someone, they get all freaked out. Most folks here would last about 12.1 seconds driving a car in Manhattan.

      • 0 avatar

        It used to be the same way in Seattle, although as the city is booming the drivers are getting more rude. When I first came back in 2012 after eight years of driving on the east coast I’m sure everyone thought I was psycho.

    • 0 avatar

      Average population density doesn’t tell you much. By this logic Rhode Island should be a hot bed of middle finger waving.

    • 0 avatar

      Whatever that is, Jersey drivers are the worst I’ve seen in terms of being “normal people”. And Florida drivers are the worth in terms of driving ability

  • avatar

    Telling folks in Jersey they can’t do road rage is like telling truck drivers in Texas they can’t put the “Calvin peeing on (insert truck brand logo here)” stickers on their back windows.

    Good luck with that one, fellas.

  • avatar

    There’s just too many cars with too much antiquated infrastructure. Factor in distracted driving and the all too popular “me first” attitude that has taken hold in this country, and now you’ve got these problems.

    When I was new to driving, I don’t remember it being as stressful or mentally fatiguing as it is today.

    What’s the solution? Like the mayor in Ghostbusters said, you can’t make people be nice to each other-it’s our god given right to be miserable.

    I consider myself to be a driving enthusiast, but like other things in my life (like drinking to the point of blacking out), when it stops being fun, maybe it’s time to give it up. Autonomous cars? I’d welcome them as long as I were still free to flog a sports car on certain low-traffic roads.

    • 0 avatar

      I think you nailed it with the “me first” attitude.

      Not only has the prevalence of road-rage seemingly increased, but the threshold required to trigger it has also decreased.

      Don’t want to go into a long sociological diatribe here, but I think this is a direct result of the diminishing level of collective empathy in our culture/society coupled with the loss of basic human resilience. We seem to have forgotten how to forgive and allow for the “benefit of the doubt”, and every perceived slight is taken personally and immediately triggers anger and other strong emotional, rather than rational, responses.

      Being ensconced in a vehicle affords a certain level of anonymity which makes it easier to forego the normal social conventions which apply in face-to-face interactions. Basically, given a little perceived anonymity, assholes will feel more free to behave like assholes. For example, that guy who just jumped ahead of you at the green and then cut you off to make an immediate turn probably wouldn’t dream of butting in front of you while in line for an amusement park ride or movie tickets – it’s not that he is being a “nice guy”, he is simply caving to the social pressure to be “polite”.

      This is in the same realm as bullying via social media, and I am not optimistic that solutions will be found in public service announcements or legislation, as it will require a sea change in the way we treat each other in general.

      • 0 avatar

        Agreed Dawnrazor. The only way I think it will change is by changing a persons values/beliefs – what some would call a “change of heart”. Your last paragraph is absolutely correct. Thanks to you and e30gator for commenting.

  • avatar

    Have to be careful with road rage in this neck of the country (eastern KY/Tn/Appalachian area). You could wind up with a tire or windshield shot out. Or worse.

  • avatar

    It’s generally sound advice not to go out of your way to piss off your fellow citizens – no matter if in a car or not. It never ceases to amaze me how often all common decency is lost soon as people get in their car.

    • 0 avatar

      re: “…often all common decency is lost soon as people get in their car.”

      its probably due to the physical isolation from other drivers. a lot like the physical isolation which has negatively affected social media.

  • avatar
    Click REPLY to reload page

    “I can’t take this frustration! My husband bought me a car with the steering wheel on the wrong side, put my wedding ring on the wrong hand, and won’t even spring for some hair conditioner!”

  • avatar

    As a long time NJ driver this does not surprise me at all, the pot holes are eating cars this spring and we get the lovely Road Tolls as well, my ezpass bill is over $500 a month for the lovely roads and bridges we have, and before someone says mass transit the NJ trains have had a very bad month as well. To many drivers, to many potholes , I will say I am surprised by how many folks do not use blue tooth in their new cars and rather use a cell phone, oh well I have a nice drive up to and in Boston tomorrow so that should calm me down right?

    • 0 avatar

      I would argue that the current train problems are, at least, partially responsible for the increase in road rage. A third train tunnel under the Hudson would be a good idea.

  • avatar

    “Horn broken, use finger”

  • avatar

    Grew up in Eastern PA and drive to Philly and NYC often for major league sports, concerts, theater, and symphony events.

    Everything on I-95 between DC and Boston,and as far west as the NE Extension of the PA Turnpike is like this.

    Anecdotally, however, my worst experiences were with drivers with NJ plates. Tailgating and flipping me off even when I was in the right lane, honking when I failed to roll through a yellow turning red, giving me the business (even when I was clearly passing a slower car to my right) just because I won’t do 90mph to do it.

    Its possible that my out of state plates made their reactions worse in some sort if tribalism effect then. But even now, as I have to fly into EWR and grab a rental to see my family, the NJ tagged rental cars still don’t seem to give me a respite.

    I get that I’m not an aggressive driver, but 70 in the right lane and passing when necessary (I even signal!) shouldn’t make people so mad just because they expect everyone to drive like them: which is to say, like an *** hole.

  • avatar
    Car Guy

    I drive I287 on a daily basis in North New Jersey and thankfully I work early enough to avoid most traffic problems. I avoid the GSP and Turnpike whenever possible. The worst drivers are not New Jersey, however, its the New York plates you have to be weary of. They are the absolute worst for cutting you off, tailgating, and merging at the last minute. If these idiots would stay on their side of the Hudson river it certainly would improve things…..

  • avatar
    John R

    “Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?” – George Carlin

    Just practice lane discipline an hope for the best, I guess

  • avatar

    Woad Wage rulez

    Don’t make eye contact. If you are getting angry, check yourself……

    If someone is a moron, get as far away as possible. Slowing down works too- in a worst case, feel free to pull into a side street or turn off….

    Do you want to meet this person ? No, no you don’t. Drive accordingly.

  • avatar

    ‘Fugeddaboutit Steph ~ it’s JOISEY .
    I can’t say I miss it one bit .

  • avatar

    I recently moved from New York City (Brooklyn, to be precise) after 20 years of living there. During that entire time, I owned a car, and drove regularly in the city, and in nearby areas.
    Many New York City drivers are aggressive – none more than the famed taxi drivers. Driving in NYC is not for the faint of heart. But it’s not as risky as driving in New Jersey.
    I drove in New Jersey regularly, and the drivers there are more dangerous because they are both aggressive and reckless. Example: I would be driving on the New Jersey Turnpike late at night, with no car ahead of me for a quarter-mile or more. A New Jersey driver would suddenly pass me – then cut me off. Why do people in New Jersey drive this way?
    After thinking about that matter for a while, I concluded that driving in New Jersey is like being a member of a baboon pack – other pack members (other drivers) are constantly trying to assert dominance over you. The pass-and-then-cut-off driving maneuver is the equivalent of the ritual mounting behavior that baboons use to assert their higher status over lesser members of the pack. New Jersey drivers engage in all sorts of reckless driving to prove their dominance.
    To learn about truck transport, writer John McPhee rode for 3,000-plus miles with a hazmat trucker, Don Ainsworth. In the book, “Uncommon Carriers,” McPhee quoted Ainsworth’s ratings for drivers in various U.S. regions:
    ” ‘Atlanta has a lot of wrecks due to aggressive drivers who lack skill. In Los Angeles, there’s a comparable percentage of aggressive drivers, but they have skill. The worst drivers anywhere are in New Jersey. Their life [sic] cannot mean a great deal to them. They take a lot of chances I wouldn’t take – just to get to work on time.’ ”
    Mr. Ainsworth is correct about New Jersey drivers.

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