TOPEKA, Kan. – Feb. 21, 2018 – Though February is the month of love, it is also Aggressive Driving Awareness Month and statistics say that nearly 80 percent of drivers expressed significant anger and aggression behind the wheel, according to a AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety research study.
The most alarming findings suggest that approximately eight million U.S. drivers engaged in some type of road rage, including purposefully ramming another vehicle or getting out of the car to confront another driver.
“Inconsiderate driving, bad traffic and the daily stresses of life can transform minor frustrations into dangerous road rage and aggressive driving behavior,” said AAA Kansas spokeswoman Jennifer Haugh. “Far too many drivers are losing themselves in the heat of the moment and lashing out in ways that could turn deadly.”
Aggressive driving behavior is described as:
- Purposefully tailgating
- Running red and yellow traffic lights
- Weaving in and out of traffic
- Yelling at another driver
- Honking to show annoyance or anger
- Making angry gestures
- Trying to block another vehicle from changing lanes
- Cutting off another vehicle on purpose
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 living in the Midwest were more likely to tailgate or yell angrily than people living in other parts of the country. Though Midwest drivers are less likely to confront others, beware when traveling to the Northeast where drivers are more likely to confront each other.
- 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.
“It’s completely normal for drivers to experience anger behind the wheel, but we must not let our emotions lead to destructive choices,” said AAA Kansas' Haugh. “Don’t risk escalating a frustrating situation because you never know what the other driver might do. Maintain a cool head, and focus on reaching your destination safely.”
AAA Kansas offers 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.