Road Rage Statistics in 2021

Key insights

  • In 2019, 82% of people admitted to committing an act of road rage in the past year. (The Zebra)
  • A total of 12,610 injuries and 218 murders have been attributed to road rage over a seven-year period in the United States (SafeMotorist).
  • 66% of traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving (NHTSA)
  • Road rage has been responsible for about 300 deaths since 2013. (NHTSA)
  • Over a seven-year time period, more than 200 murders and 12,000 injuries were attributed to road rage. (American Automobile Association)
  • 30 murders annually are linked to road rage. (American Psychological Association)
  • 50% of drivers respond to the careless acts of other drivers with aggressive behavior themselves (American Psychology Association)
  • 94% of traffic accidents are caused by driver error. (NPR)
  • 37% of aggressive driving incidents involve a firearm. (AutoVantage Club)
  • Aggressive driving played a role in 56% of fatal crashes from 2003 through 2007 (Insurance Information Institute)
  • 500% increase in reported cases of road rage over the last 10 years. (CNN)

 

What is the root of aggressive driving?

Aggressive driving, also called more commonly as “road rage”, is dangerous and negative behavior drivers engage in for a variety of reasons. Oftentimes, the driver is drunk (already making poor decisions), suffering from a mental breakdown or emotional strain, or simply just late and needs to get somewhere fast. While none of these are acceptable reasons for putting yourself and others at risk, road rage is all too common.

The Zebra has collected data from trusted sources, such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the American Psychological Association, and the American Automobile Association to report on the most recent and useful aggressive driving statistics. Additional data on road rage can be found in our annual survey looking at aggressive driving behavior in the United States. 

 

Table of contents

  1. Road rage in 2021
  2. Road rage in 2020
  3. Road rage in 2019
  4. What does road rage look like in the US?
  5. Aggressive driving vs. road rage
  6. Road rage statistics by state
  7. Road rage statistics by gender
  8. Road rage statistics by age
  9. Road rage death statistics
  10. Comparing road rage to drunk or distracted driving
  11. Dangers of road rage on car insurance premiums
  12. Road rage FAQs

 

Road rage statistics 2021

Everyone has had a moment of frustration while driving. Whether it be due to traffic or the poor decisions of other drivers, that flash of anger can easily ruin our day. But for some, that anger lasts much longer than an instant and can lead to some disastrous consequences.

In March of 2021, The Zebra looked at the driving behaviors of 1,500 Americans and identified several insights around road rage and aggressive driving.

  • Drivers reported that the most frequently witnessed act of road rage (45.4%) was another driver angrily honking their horn.
  • 38.9% of drivers witnessed other drivers signaling rude hand gestures to other drivers in an act of road rage.
  • Most drivers reported (30%) that the most frustrating thing another driver can do is driving while distracted with their phone. Only 6.8% reported that traffic was the most annoying thing about driving.
  • 26.5% of drivers use music or a podcast to calm down after getting angry while driving.

Because of the COVID-19, the driving and driving behaviors changed in 2020 to 2021.

  • In one year, there was a reported drop in 1.9% reported feelings of road rage.
  • Distracted driving, tailgating, and cutting off other drivers are still the most enraging behaviors, but reported numbers are lower.
  • Overall, feelings of frustration while driving have dropped in the past year.

 

Road rage statistics in 2020

In May 2020, The Zebra, the nation's leading insurance comparison site, conducted a national survey on 1,500 Americans to better understand this "road rage" phenomenon.

Major takeways include:

  • 19.3% of respondents reported feeling anger and intense aggression while driving in the past year, while 5.5% said they experienced those same feelings weekly. 2.8% reported those same feelings every time they drive
  • The most common act of road rage witnessed by American drivers was another driver honking their car horns in anger (48.3%). However, 41.1% (almost half of the respondents) witnessed drivers giving rude hand gestures to the person of their aggression. 35.8% saw other drivers yell at another driver, while 6.2% actually witnessed drivers get out of their car and fight in a physical altercation. 
  • Distracted driving, tailgating, and being cut off in traffic are the most enraging behaviors, according to the survey (respondents reporting 27.7%, 21.4%, and 15.6% respectively).
road rage statistics 2020

 

This new data also indicates a concerning lack of action taken by most Americans, despite knowing the dangers of road rage. 

  • 40.8% of drivers reported believing road rage was just as dangerous as distracted driving.
  • 41.4% of drivers reported believing road rage was just as dangerous as drunk driving.
  • 44.4% of people also admitted failing to report road rage to the police when they saw it. 

Perhaps this discrepancy comes down to varying beliefs regarding how road rage is defined.

  • 17.4% claim road rage is only feelings caused by another driver's behavior, while 10.1% define road rage as physical responses due to another driver. 2.1% see road rage as physical responses due to traffic/blockage. 1.8% responded that road rage was caused by traffic or construction.
  • Of the above options, 46.7% saw road rage as all of the above, but 21.1% didn't see road rage as any of the listed options. 

If you find yourself frustrated behind the wheel, our research shows these as the top ways to relax after a road rage incident.

  • Listen to music or a podcast: 30.5% (still regarded the top favorite choice, in accordance to last year's road rage survey)
  • Think of something more peaceful: 19.2%
  • Letting off steam by yelling in the car: 9.5%

 

Road rage statistics in 2019

In October of 2019, The Zebra surveyed Americans across the United States for their opinions and behaviors regarding road rage. The following data points are taken from the aforementioned survey. 

  • 82% of drivers in the U.S. admit to having road rage or driving aggressively at least once in the past year.
  • 59% of drivers reported showing anger by honking.
  • 45% of drivers report changing lanes without signaling. 
  • 42% of drivers claimed they've yelled or cursed loudly at another driver.
  • 38% said they've used rude or obscene gestures against other drivers. 

Most respondents said they did not report road rage to the police. More than half of the survey respondents said they had witnessed road rage, directed either at themselves or someone else.

  • 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.

While not all road rage incidents have led to a physical confrontation, The Zebra found that: 

  • 7% got out of their vehicle to verbally confront another driver.
  • 6% threw objects.
  • 6% got in a physical altercation with another driver.
  • 5% sideswiped another vehicle.
  • 5% bumped or rammed another vehicle on purpose.
  • 5% forced another driver off the road.

According to our survey, the top three road-rage-inducing actions are:

  • Tailgating
  • Distracted driving
  • Getting cut off

If you find yourself experiencing road rage, our respondents used these methods to relax and settle down:

  • 62% suggested listening to music.
  • 23% think of something else.
  • 22% yell or curse to blow off steam.

 

Road rage in the United States: a statistical overview

The following data is taken from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

  • In 2006, only 80 fatal crashes were related to road rage.
  • In 2015, the number of road rage-related fatal car accidents was up to 467, up 500% in just 9 years.
  • Road rage has led to an estimated 300 deaths since 2013.
  • About 30 murders nationwide have been attributed to incidents that started with road rage.
  • The American Automobile Association (AAA) has linked more than 12,500 injuries to driver violence, out of 10,000 car accidents since 2007.
  • Of the deaths related to road rage, most have been considered deliberate murders.
  • Over a seven-year time period, more than 200 murders and 12,000 injuries were attributed to road rage.

 

Road rage vs. aggressive driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has outlined legal differences between road rage and aggressive driving. Aggressive driving constitutes anything construed as reckless: tailgating, speeding, or blocking another car from passing. Road rage is more serious because it often involves a violent intent towards another driver. This includes behaviors such as using a vehicle to ram another car, physically fighting with another driver on the side of the road, or using a weapon to threaten or cause harm.

Here are some additional facts about aggressive drivers and road rage:

  • Road rage is legally classified as a criminal charge. This is because it is classified as a willful and wanton disregard for the safety of others.
  • Aggressive drivers can be ticketed as a traffic offense.
  • Other criminal road rage offenses include swerving into another car, forcing another driver off the road, shooting a gun into another car, tailgating behind a car, ramming another motorist, or performing brake checks in front of a vehicle.
  • 2% of drivers admit to attempting to run another driver off the road.
  • 86% of drivers believe it's safe to drive at least 10 miles per hour over the speed limit on the highway

 

Road rage statistics by state:

The following statistics are taken from an analysis of FARS data done by Auto Insurance Center and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

According to the NHTSA's Fatality Analysis Reporting System, there was about one deadly accident related to road rage per day in 2016. The following statistics are taken from an analysis of FARS data done by Auto Insurance Center and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Here are the top ten states with the most deaths related to road rage or aggressive driving in 2016: 

State

Fatalities

Indiana

77

South Carolina

64

Alabama

64

Colorado

53

Wisconsin

22

Connecticut

16

Florida

15

New York

11

Arkansas

6

Texas

6

 

Road rage statistics by gender:

The following data is taken from the 2019 road rage report from The Zebra.

  • Studies on gender and traffic safety say males under the age of 19 are the most likely to exhibit road rage and tailgate.
  • However, in a study to explore those who say they experience road rage more than four times a week, 34% were 18-34 years old and female.

According to The Zebra’s survey, males are on the receiving end of road rage more often than females.

  • 39.2% of men have experienced road rage directed at them
  • 28.9% of women have experienced road rage directed at them

 

Road rage statistics by age:

It's usually assumed younger and less experienced drivers are involved in the greatest number of accidents. The Zebra's 2019 survey proved that to be true.

  • Those born between 1981 and 1996 (often termed Millennials) have been identified in taking part more than 50% of all aggressive driving accidents.
  • A generation before millennials (Gen X) took part in only 21% of all crashes involving rude gestures or aggressive driving.
  • Lastly, and perhaps unsurprisingly, the generation next to retire (the baby boomers) were involved in the fewest crashes due to reckless behavior (4.2% of all crashes).
pie chart displaying road rage experiences by age group

 

These stats might be due to a misunderstanding in common road etiquette, often occurring a daily commute. Here are some follow-up facts about angry drivers by age:

Generation Y, Generation Z and road rage

In 2019, The Zebra found that:

  • 20% of millennials have admitted to “slowing down to annoy or educate people who want them to move over.”
  • About 60% of young people believe that the left lane has a specific purpose, and 30% use the left lane to cruise on highways.
  • Anger management issues might be the reason for some accidents: 20% of teenagers report anger issues.
  • 14% of aggressive driving crashes involve a driver ages 18 to 24.

Generation X and road rage

Recent NHTSA reports found that:

  • Road rage was a factor in 25% of the fatal car crashes involving drivers ages 40 to 54. These road rage-related deadly crashes constituted 5% of all fatal traffic incidents.

Baby boomers and road rage

According to the NHTSA:

  • 70% of drivers ages 55 and older said the far-left lane is for passing, not cruising.
  • Fewer than 20% of seniors use the left lane for cruising.
  • Baby boomers contribute to 8% of deadly road rage accidents.  

 

Road rage deaths statistics

The following data was sourced from the American Automobile Association: 

  • About 30 murders nationwide have been attributed to incidents that started with road rage.
  • More than 12,500 injuries to driver violence, out of 10,000 car accidents since 2007.
  • Of the deaths related to road rage, most have been considered deliberate murders.
  • Over a seven-year time period, more than 200 murders and 12,000 injuries were attributed to road rage.

Road rage and gun violence

The Trace, a nonprofit news organization focused on gun violence, found that:

  • In 2014, 247 road rage incidents involved a gun.
  • In 2016, road rage cases involving a firearm increased to 620
  • In 2017, there were 325 road-rage gun incidents.
  • 136 people were killed in a road rage shooting from 2013-2017. 

 

Road rage vs. drunk driving

The Zebra’s national survey found:

  • 14.4% of respondents think road rage is more dangerous than drunk driving.
  • 36.4% of respondents think road rage is less dangerous than drunk driving.
  • 49.2% of respondents consider the behaviors equally dangerous.

Road rage vs. distracted driving

The Zebra’s national survey found:

  • 17.9% of respondents think road rage is more dangerous than distracted driving.
  • 27.3% of respondents think road rage is less dangerous than distracted driving.
  • 54.8% of respondents think the behaviors are equally dangerous.

 

Road rage and car insurance premiums

Road rage can lead to aggressive driving, a behavior that may have legal ramifications and fiscal downsides, especially where car insurance is concerned. Reckless driving is generally defined as careless driving, improper driving, excessive speed, or driving without due care and attention. A reckless driving citation is costly from an insurance perspective. Since 2012, insurance rates for driving violations (speeding, running red lights, racing, etc.) are on the rise.  In 2020, reckless driving increases your premiums to $2,389 a year, a 61% jump. 

Average premium increase by road rage violation

CompanySpeeding ticketDUIReckless Driving
All State$1161$1817$1767
GEICO$967$1316$1432
Farmers$790$1323$1227
Liberty Mutual$1007$1317$1275
Nationwide$864$1546$1481
Progressive$1036$1002$1188
road rage and car insurance 2021

Copyright © 2021 InsuranceZebra, Inc. All rights reserved. For inquiries regarding this content, please contact our team at statistics@thezebra.com.

 

Road rage FAQs

Question: What percentage of accidents are caused by road rage?

Answer: According to the Insurance Information Institute, aggressive driving played a role in 56% of fatal crashes from 2003 through 2007.

 

Question: How many accidents are caused by road rage each year?

Answer: According to SafeMotorist, a total of 12,610 injuries and 218 murders have been attributed to road rage over a seven-year period in the United States.

 

Question: What is the most common road rage?

Answer: According to The Zebra, the most common act of road rage witnessed by American drivers was another driver honking their car horns in anger (48.3%).

 

Question: How much has road rage increased since 1990?

Answer: The AAA Foundation found a 51 percent increase in serious incidents between 1990 and 1996 (Mizell, 1997).

 

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Methodology

This study was conducted for The Zebra using Google Consumer 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 2021.

 

Resources:

FARS Encyclopedia

NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts

Insurance Information Institute

1 in 5 College Students Admitted to Drunk Driving | HealthDay

25% Of College Students Have Driven Drunk In The Past Month | HuffPost

Car Accident Statistics | Carsurance

National Drunk Driving Facts & Statistics (2019) | Geoffrey G. Nathan Law Offices

Numbers Show Drunk Driving Still the Leading Cause of Highway Deaths | MADD

Taylor Covington
Taylor CovingtonContent Researcher

An in-house qualitative researcher for The Zebra, Taylor collects, organizes, and analyzes data to shine a light on trends in the insurance industry and beyond. Taylor's data studies have been cited by Yahoo Finance, The Atlantic, MSN, PolicyAdvice, Fox Business, The Simple Dollar, Hippo Insurance, and Bloomberg.

In her hometown of Austin, Texas, she can be found reading at Half Price Books or eating the world's greatest pizza at Via 313.