Aggressive driving and road rage has long been a problem on American roadways. Screaming, obscene gestures, and sometimes violence are common on our nation’s streets. Although many of us have succumbed to our emotions while driving and reacted poorly, there are some staggering statistics you should know before you put the pedal to the metal next time. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Auto Vantage auto club show that 66 percent of traffic fatalities are a result of aggressive driving. They also report that 37 percent of aggressive driving incidents involve a firearm. The last statistic worth noting is over a seven-year period, there were 218 murders and 12,610 injuries that were attributed to road rage. Clearly, aggressive driving can be dangerous. However, did you also know you may be more prone to road rage depending on where you live?
New data published in the AAA Foundation’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index shows that northeast drivers are more likely to shout at other motorists, aggressively honk, or make offensive hand gestures than drivers from other regions of the country. This data was collected from 2,705 licensed drivers who drove a vehicle in the past month. According to the study, almost 80 percent of U.S. drivers have experienced “significant” frustration while driving in the past year. The study also found that an estimated 8 million U.S. drivers participate in some form of “extreme examples of road rage,” which include honking, yelling, making angry gestures, tailgating or deliberately blocking another vehicle from changing lanes. AAA reports that drivers from the Northeast are up to 30 percent more likely to make an angry gesture than drivers from other areas of the U.S. A small percentage of motorists reported engaging in extremely aggressive behaviors, such as tapping or hitting another vehicle or exiting their vehicle to challenge another driver. “Inconsiderate driving, bad traffic and the daily stresses or life can transform minor frustrations into dangerous road rage,” said Jurek Grabowski who is the director of research for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Far too many drivers are losing themselves in the heat of the moment and lashing out in ways that could turn deadly.”
AAA suggests following a few recommendations to avoid road rage behavior. The first step is “don’t offend.” By this, AAA means don’t do something that forces another driver to react to your action, i.e. forcing them to use their brakes or turn their steering wheel as a result of your action. Secondly, AAA suggests you have a “tolerant and forgiving” attitude in regards to other drivers’ behavior. It is important to try not perceive other drivers’ imperfect driving as a personal offense. Lastly, do not react to other drivers. Try to avoid eye contact if other drivers antagonize you and refrain from angry gestures. If necessary, contact the authorities. Jake Nelson, AAA’s director of Traffic Safety Advocacy and Research, emphasizes that drivers need to secure their own safety and the safety of their passengers by doing their best to remain calm on the road. Although “it’s completely normal for drivers to experience anger behind the wheel, we must not let our emotions lead to destructive choice,” Nelson reminds us. “Don’t risk escalating a frustrating situation because you never know what the other driver might do. Maintain a cool head, and focus on reaching your destination safely.”
“Aggressive Driving and Road Rage.” SafeMotorist. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 July 2016.
Salomon, Sanjay. “Northeast Drivers Are More Likely to Express Their Road Rage, Survey Finds.” Boston.com. The New York Times, 14 July 2016. Web. 18 July 2016.