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  • Writer's picturejoseph retcho

Understanding Road Rage: A Growing Concern

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Whether you're driving or just along for the ride, chances are you'll come across road rage at some point. Road rage is a big problem in the United States, with nearly eight out of 10 drivers showing aggressive behaviors while behind the wheel. This kind of behavior can be really dangerous for everyone on the road.

What is road rage?

Road rage happens when a driver gets really angry and aggressive, with the intention of causing harm either verbally or physically.

The term "road rage" became popular in the 1990s when the media started talking about all the cases of extreme aggressive driving happening acro ss the country. Some places have even made it a crime to show road rage, while aggressive driving is usually just a traffic violation.


Statistics on road rage and aggressive driving

Have you ever been in a situation where someone on the road made you feel angry or frustrated? You're not alone. In the U.S., about 92% of people have seen road rage happen at least once in the past year, and 89% have been a victim of it themselves. However, only 6% of people have witnessed a really serious road rage incident, like a fight between drivers.

Here are some of the most common road rage behaviors in the U.S.:

  1. Speeding on the highway: 48%

  2. Tailgating: 34%

  3. Honking or making gestures: 32%

  4. Running a red light: 31%

  5. Aggressive driving: 26%

  6. Cutting off another vehicle: 22%

When and where you drive can also affect how much road rage you encounter. Mondays, Fridays, and afternoons tend to be the times when people get the most frustrated on the road. This is probably because traffic is usually slow and heavy during these times, which can lead to more road rage incidents.


According to the American Automobile Association's Traffic Safety Culture Index, U.S. drivers face many dangers on the road, including unsafe behaviors from other drivers. Here are some key findings from the index:

  • 83% of people think running a red light or aggressive driving is very dangerous.

  • Surprisingly, fewer people see speeding as dangerous compared to other risky behaviors.

  • Even though most drivers know that speeding is dangerous, many still admit to doing it. For example, about half of drivers have gone 15 miles per hour over the speed limit on a freeway in the past month.

  • Some people also drive under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or when they are drowsy, even though they know it's extremely dangerous.


What makes people drive aggressively and experience road rage?

Have you ever wondered why some drivers seem to get really angry on the road? Well, it turns out that heavy traffic and feeling stressed are the top reasons why people drive aggressively and experience road rage. Here are some other common reasons:

  • Heavy traffic: 39.35%

  • Feeling stressed already: 38.06%

  • Running late: 33.89%

  • Feeling angry already: 32.49%

  • Feeling tired: 26.86%


Studies have shown that factors like age, time of year/day, and type of car can also increase the risk of road rage and aggressive driving. For example:

  • Age: Drivers who are 19 and below are more likely to be involved in aggressive driving crashes than older adults.

  • Month and day: Road rage incidents are more likely to happen in the summer months and toward the end of the week.

  • Time of day: Angry drivers are more common during peak commute hours, between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.


Another factor that contributes to road rage is anonymity. Some drivers feel more comfortable being aggressive if they think they will never see the other person again.


How to avoid road rage incidents

While you can't control how other people act on the road, you can drive with courtesy, respect, and patience to help prevent road rage incidents. Here are some tips from AAA:

  • Maintain a safe following distance and avoid tailgating.

  • Use turn signals to let other drivers know your intentions.

  • Allow other drivers to merge when needed.

  • Avoid flashing your high beams at other drivers.

  • Use your horn responsibly and avoid honking excessively.

  • Be careful and considerate in parking lots.


If you find yourself in a tense situation on the road, remember these tips from AAA:

  • Avoid making eye contact with angry drivers.

  • Don't respond to aggression with more aggression.

  • If you feel unsafe, drive to a public place like a police station or hospital.

  • If an angry driver confronts you, stay calm and don't escalate the situation.

  • Call 911 if you feel threatened or in danger.


Road rage vs. aggressive driving

Back in the 1990s, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) started using the term "aggressive driving" to talk about dangerous driving habits that happen often. They wanted to make a distinction between this kind of behavior and something even more extreme called road rage.


Aggressive driving vs. road rage

Aggressive driving is when someone does things on purpose while driving that can be dangerous to others. Road rage, on the other hand, is when someone does really violent and extreme things on purpose that immediately put others in danger.


Traffic Offense

  • Tailgating

  • Running stoplights

  • Speeding in heavy traffic

  • Weaving in and out of traffic

  • Cutting off another driver and then slowing down

  • Changing lanes without signaling

  • Blocking other cars from trying to change lanes or pass


Criminal Charge

  • Making rude or mean gestures

  • Using bad language

  • Hitting or bumping another car on purpose

  • Slamming on the brakes or flashing headlights to scare other drivers

  • Forcing another car off the road

  • Getting into a fight

  • Physically hurting someone

  • Causing harm or even killing someone


A recent survey by the AAA Foundation found that in just one month, millions of drivers admitted to doing aggressive driving behaviors.

Behavior

Percent of drivers reporting

Number of drivers reporting

Passing another vehicle with less than a car length

22%

49 million

Speeding up to stop another vehicle from passing

25%

55 million

Switching lanes quickly/closely behind another car

26%

57 million

Merging into traffic when another vehicle tries to prevent it by closing the gap

28%

62 million

Driving through a red light

31%

68 million

Honking or rude hand gestures

32%

71 million

Following too closely to prevent another vehicle from merging

34%

75 million

Driving 15 mph over the speed limit on a highway

48%

106 million


Gun Violence on the Road: A Growing Concern

Did you know that many American drivers carry weapons in their vehicles? A recent poll found that 65% of people admitted to keeping at least one weapon in their car. This is a worrying trend, especially when it comes to road rage incidents.


Types of Weapons

Some of the weapons that people admitted to carrying include pepper spray, guns, and knives. These weapons can escalate a situation quickly and lead to dangerous outcomes.

  • Pepper spray: 45%

  • Gun: 40%

  • Knife: 50%


Statistics on Road Rage Incidents

On average, in 2022, someone was shot and either injured or killed in a road rage incident every 16 hours. This is a shocking statistic that shows the seriousness of the issue.

  • In 2018, there were at least 70 road rage shooting deaths. By 2022, this number had doubled to 141.

  • Road rage shooting injuries have also more than doubled since 2018, jumping from 176 to 413 in 2022.

  • So far in 2024, there have already been 114 road rage shooting deaths and 362 related injuries in the U.S.


Impact of Gun Laws

States that do not require gun permits have a much higher rate of road rage shooting victimization compared to states that do require permits. This shows the importance of gun laws in preventing such incidents.

Regional Trends

  • In 2022, almost every state in the U.S. had at least one road rage shooting victim.

  • Southern states, which generally have weaker gun laws, see higher rates of road rage shooting victims compared to the Northeast, which has stricter gun laws.

  • States that do not require permits for guns had 27% more road rage deaths and injuries involving guns than states that required permits.


High-Risk States

Interestingly, the five states with the highest rate of people shot during road rage incidents make up only 8% of the U.S. population but account for 20% of road rage shooting victims. This highlights the disproportionate impact of road rage incidents in certain areas.

State

Road rage shooting victims per 1 million residents

New Mexico

6.16

Arizona

4.1

Oklahoma

3.8

Tennessee

3.64

Wisconsin

3.41

Road rage by city and state

Aggressive Driving Behavior

Have you ever noticed that some drivers seem angrier on the road than others? Well, a study by the AAA Foundation found that drivers in the Northeast and Midwest tend to show more aggressive driving behavior compared to other regions in the country. This means they might be more likely to honk, tailgate, or make rude gestures while driving.


Fatal Car Injuries

On the other hand, fatal car injuries are more common in the South. This is a serious issue because it means that accidents in the South are more likely to result in someone getting hurt or even worse.


Top Five Cities with the Worst Driving Conditions

Based on data from the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2021, the top five cities in the U.S. with the worst driving conditions. These cities are:

  • Memphis, Tennessee

  • Baton Rouge, Louisiana

  • Albuquerque, New Mexico

  • Macon, Georgia

  • St. Louis, Missouri

So, if you ever find yourself driving in one of these cities, make sure to stay calm and drive safely to avoid road rage incidents and accidents. Stay safe out there!


Comparatively, the U.S. cities with the safest drivers are:

  • Green Bay, Wisconsin

  • Cary, North Carolina

  • Oxnard, California

  • Bellevue, Washington

  • McKinney, Texas

  • Lynn, Massachusetts

  • Glendale, California

  • Pearland, Texas

  • College Station, Texas

  • Henderson, Nevada


Meanwhile, the NHTSA’s latest figures for the first half of 2023 overall traffic fatalities estimate that 19,515 died in vehicle crashes.


Road rage statistics

According to the ConsumerAffairs Research Team:

  • Memphis, Tennessee: This city has the highest rate of fatal car crashes related to aggressive driving, with an average of 30 per month.

  • Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Here, they have the highest rate of drunk-driving fatalities, at 2.2 times the national average. Drinking and driving is never a good idea!

  • Albuquerque, New Mexico: A whopping 34.6% of all fatal car accidents in this city are related to excessive speed.

  • Macon, Georgia: This city has a rate of aggressive driving-related fatalities that is double the national average. They also have pedestrian fatalities that are over four times the national average. Georgia as a whole has some of the worst drivers in the country, with cities like Athens, Atlanta, and Augusta ranking high for bad driving behavior.


Road rage by gender

Studies show that 79% (nearly 8 in 10) of American drivers demonstrate aggressive behavior.

Did you know that almost 8 out of 10 drivers in the US show signs of road rage?

Males are more likely to exhibit road rage behaviors

Guys are more likely to get angry on the road than girls. Maybe it's because there are more guys driving around, so they have more chances to get mad.

Men tend to speed, tailgate, merge dangerously, and honk or make rude gestures

Men are more likely to speed, drive too close to the car in front of them, cut people off, and honk or make mean gestures at other drivers.


Road rage statistics by age

Did you know that your age can play a role in how you drive? Studies have found that younger drivers, like Gen Z and Millennials, are more likely to engage in aggressive driving behaviors compared to older generations like Gen X and Boomers. This means they are more likely to get frustrated while driving and make risky decisions on the road.

One big factor that contributes to aggressive driving in young people is using their cell phones while driving. This behavior can lead to other dangerous driving habits like running red lights, speeding, and making aggressive maneuvers on the road.

  • Millennials were involved in over half of all aggressive driving accidents

  • Gen X was only involved in about 21% of accidents involving rude gestures or aggressive driving

  • Boomers were only involved in about 4.2% of crashes due to reckless behavior

  • Drivers between the ages of 25 to 39 were the most likely to tailgate compared to other age groups


Impact on car insurance premiums

If you get into an accident because of road rage, your car insurance may not cover the damages. This is because aggressive driving is seen as a choice, not an accident caused by bad luck. As a result, your insurance rates could go up because of the incident, as insurance companies consider your driving history when setting rates.

According to a recent report, some states have seen huge increases in car insurance premiums after road rage-related incidents:

  • In Hawaii, premiums can go up by as much as 96% after a road rage citation

  • Other states with significant premium increases include California (74%), Michigan (69%), North Carolina (65%), and New Jersey (54%)

  • New York has the lowest increase, with premiums going up by up to 23%.


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