Vast Majority of US Drivers Exhibit Aggressive Behavior, New AAA Study Concludes

Posted at 5:07 AM, Jul 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-14 05:07:47-04

It only takes one aggressive lane change, one menacing glare, one honk from the car behind you and the blood pressure can rise so high that an altercation ensues.

Aggressive driving continues to be a serious threat to safety on the roadway and most U.S. drivers are engaging in such behavior, according to new research by the AAA Foundation.

The study, the purpose of which was to provide estimates of the prevalence of aggressive driving behaviors, found that 78 percent of respondents admitted to having engaged in at least one aggressive driving behavior in the last year.

The respondents were 2,705 licensed drivers questioned via a nationally representative online survey conducted in 2014 on their driving behavior in the previous year.

The most common behaviors found in the survey were purposefully following another vehicle too closely, yelling at other drivers, and honking to show annoyance or anger. About half of respondents admitted to engaging in at least one of these behaviors.

The most common forms of road rage are:

  • Purposefully tailgating: 51 percent (104 million drivers)
  • Yelling at another driver: 47 percent (95 million drivers)
  • Honking to show annoyance or anger: 45 percent (91 million drivers)
  • Making angry gestures: 33 percent (67 million drivers)
  • Trying to block another vehicle from changing lanes: 24 percent (49 million drivers)
  • Cutting off another vehicle on purpose: 12 percent (24 million drivers)
  • Getting out of the vehicle to confront another driver: 4 percent (7.6 million drivers)
  • Bumping or ramming another vehicle on purpose: 3 percent (5.7 million drivers)

One deadly 2014 confrontation in Fairfax, Virginia, was the result of one driver said to have honked his horn too many times. The two men exited their cars and a fist fight ensued, according to authorities. One of the two men died two weeks later.

Approximately one-third of all drivers surveyed said they have made an angry gesture at another driver and one in four drivers reported purposefully blocking another driver from changing lanes.

And watch out: 11.9 percent said they have intentionally cut off another vehicle, most of whom did it more than once.

In August of 2015, a driver’s dashboard camera caught one of these incidents on video in Arizona. The video shows a driver revving his engine, opening his car door while moving, before swerving in front of another driver, allegedly causing a collision.

Some actions respondents admitted to certainly fall outside the scope of common aggressive driving: 3.7 percent reported actually getting out of their vehicle to confront another driver and 2.8 percent reported intentionally hitting another car.

Male and young drivers were more likely to report engaging in aggressive driving. AAA said among their respondents, male drivers were three times more likely to confront another driver after exiting their vehicle than their female counterparts.

Geography may influence driving behaviors, too. Those surveyed who live in the Northeast were 30 percent more likely to report engaging in making angry gestures to other drivers.

AAA gives us a few tips to preventing road rage:

--Avoid making drivers respond to your driving.
--Be forgiving: the other driver may just be having a bad day.
--Do not respond: avoid eye contact, don’t make gestures, maintain a safe space around your vehicle and contact 911 if you feel threatened.