Aggressive driving and road rage are becoming more commonplace — and more dangerous. New research from The Zebra shows that 82% of drivers in the U.S. admit to having road rage or driving aggressively at least once in the past year.
With more drivers than ever letting out their frustration behind the wheel, we wanted to learn more about the most prevalent aggressive driving behaviors right now, what drivers admit to engaging in themselves, and how they should handle driving frustrations.
Here’s what we know:
It’s incredibly common. Eight out of 10 drivers admitted to aggressive driving, and even more than that – 90% – said they witnessed someone else doing it.
It can be deadly. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, the number of road rage-related fatal crashes rose almost 500% over 10 years, from 80 to 467.
It can be expensive. Drivers charged with reckless driving can expect their car insurance bill to go up by 70% ($1,034) on average, nationally, and as much as 390% ($4,220) in some states. And that’s on top of the fines and court costs.
It’s avoidable. Drivers and experts agree that there are ways to minimize road rage and its impact. Safe driving, common sense, and empathy for others on the road go a long way.
Aggressive driving is any deliberate, unsafe driving behavior — like changing lanes without a turn signal or tailgating.
Road rage takes aggressive driving behaviors to the extreme and can include obscene gestures, ramming another driver’s car, or forcing them off the road. Of drivers surveyed, 55% admitted to having an episode of road rage at least once in the past year.
*See methodology for examples.
Eight out of 10 drivers say they’ve had at least one episode of aggressive driving or road rage over the past year, with the most common behavior being honking out of anger or frustration.
And while a quick beep of the horn might not seem aggressive to some, it can lead to more serious incidents. About 6% of drivers say their road rage escalated into a physical confrontation.
These findings may be more concerning when you consider how many drivers have access to a weapon while driving. Forty-six percent of drivers say they’ve kept a gun, taser, or other weapon in the car for personal protection.
There are many factors that can cause drivers to act out in potentially dangerous ways. They found tailgating to be the most frustrating, but distracted driving — other drivers using a phone or device — came in a close second.
Eighty-seven percent of drivers say they’ve seen another driver distracted by a phone or device in the past year. (In fact, half of respondents said they observed that behavior daily.) However, only 41% of drivers admit to similar behaviors in that timeframe.
Drivers aren’t just angry about distracted driving; they actually view it as more dangerous than road rage itself, and second only to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
What are the most dangerous driving behaviors?
Despite their frustrations, only 10% of drivers say they’ve actually called the police on another driver because of aggressive driving or road rage in the past year.
So what’s the best way to handle others’ aggressive driving? It can be tempting to respond in kind, but the pros advise against it. Some tips from government and industry experts:
Our survey respondents agree; many suggested it’s best to play it safe and simply ignore agitated drivers. Here’s what some of them had to say:
When asked how they react to their own driving frustrations, a majority of respondents (62%) said they listened to music. Others try to think of something else (23%), while some admit to yelling or cursing to blow off steam (22%).
The Zebra’s report presents the findings of an anonymous online survey of 978 drivers from all 50 states and Washington, D.C., ages 17-85 who drive at least monthly. The survey was conducted by independent research firm SurveyGizmo from Oct. 15-31, 2019, and the results were reviewed for quality control.
For the purposes of this survey, road road and aggressive driving include the following behaviors.