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Study: Nearly 80% of drivers express anger or road rage

Nearly 80 percent of drivers expressed significant anger, aggression or road rage behind the wheel at least once in the past year, according to a new study released today by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
The most alarming findings suggest that approximately 8 million U.S. drivers engaged in extreme examples of road rage, including purposefully ramming another vehicle or getting out of the car to confront another driver.
In North Carolina, from 2011 to 2015, more than 38,000 people were injured in crashes involving drivers that operated a vehicle in an erratic, reckless, careless, negligent or aggressive manner. In the same time period, over 55,000 crashes occurred due to aggressive driving and 1,401 traffic fatalities occurred.

“North Carolina’s statistics are staggering, far too many drivers are transforming minor frustrations into rage and aggression,” said AAA Carolinas Foundation for Traffic Safety President Tiffany Wright. “Remember not to let these frustrations turn dangerous; always remain calm in order to reach your destination safely.”

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 Northeast were significantly more likely to yell, honk or gesture angrily than people living in other parts of the country. For example, drivers in the Northeast were nearly 30 percent more likely to have made an angry gesture than drivers in other parts of the country.
  • 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.

AAA 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.

The research report is available on the AAA Foundation’s website and is part of the annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, which identifies attitudes and behaviors related to driver safety. The data was collected from a national survey of 2,705 licensed drivers ages 16 and older who reported driving in the past 30 days. The AAA Foundation issued its first Traffic Safety Culture Index in 2008.

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