Survey finds 38% of Americans make rude gestures while driving

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Taylor Covington

Content Researcher

As a qualitative researcher for The Zebra, Taylor collected, organized, and analyzed data to shine a light on trends in the insurance industry and be…


Have you ever experienced road rage, or had it directed at you? While road rage usually starts with feelings of anger toward another driver, the situation can quickly escalate into something physical and become dangerous — or even deadly.

Despite the dangers involved in road rage, it’s surprisingly common: 39% of men and 29% of women have been the subject of road rage exhibited against them. We ran a survey to find out just how many Americans admit to expressing road rage toward other drivers on the road.

Our findings revealed:

  • 38% of Americans admit to making rude gestures at other drivers while driving.
  • Only 1 in 5 Americans realize that road rage is a criminal offense.

Road rage has led to an estimated 300 deaths since 2013. Because road rage can lead to aggressive driving behaviors, these physical reactions are illegal, dangerous, and they can impact your car insurance premiums. Read on to discover who experiences road rage, how they express it, and why it matters. 

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Men are more likely to experience road rage

Americans are split down the middle on how to define road rage. While 49% define it as “feelings caused by a driver’s behavior,” another 51% say it is “physical responses due to another driver’s behavior.”

Whatever your definition of road rage may be, it is a real danger on the road. While 38% of respondents we surveyed admitted to making rude gestures to other drivers on the road, men were 18% more likely to experience it than women.

Studies on gender and traffic safety say that males under the age of 19 are the most likely to exhibit road rage — although an additional study revealed that 18-to-34-year-old females experience feelings of road rage more than four times a week.

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Impacts of road rage

Road rage is legally classified as a criminal charge, yet only 1 in 5 Americans know this. In many states, rude gestures such as flipping the bird constitute as an aggressive driving offense. The reason? This seemingly harmless gesture can escalate a situation into something serious. In the U.S., road rage has led to an estimated 300 deaths since 2013 and The American Automobile Association (AAA) has linked more than 12,500 injuries to driver violence, out of 10,000 car accidents since 2007.

Some of the ticketed and criminal road rage offenses include:

  • Aggressive driving
  • Swerving into another car
  • Forcing another driver off the road
  • Shooting a gun into another car
  • Tailgating behind a car
  • Performing brake checks in front of a vehicle
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In addition to dangers on the road, the impacts of road rage can carry over to your finances too. If you’re flagged for any of the ticketed or criminal road rage offenses above, you may end up paying for it elsewhere. In addition to fines from the state, car insurance companies may punish aggressive driving behaviors by raising your insurance premium.

The best way to avoid road rage is to eliminate aggressive driving behaviors altogether. You can reduce frustration on the road by giving yourself plenty of time to get to your destination, listening to relaxing music, and avoiding rude gestures altogether. Your fellow drivers, your wallet, and your car insurance rates will be better off.


This study was conducted for The Zebra using Google Surveys. The sample consisted of no less than 1,000 completed responses per question. Post-stratification weighting has been applied to ensure an accurate and reliable representation of the total population. This survey was conducted in November 2019.