Seeing aggressive driving, sometimes called road rage, has become familiar while on the road, especially if you have a long commute or get stuck in traffic. Behavior like speeding, tailgating, honking, or yelling at another driver can seem like everyday things but can quickly turn dangerous or deadly.
There are many causes of road rage, including running late, frustration with traffic, anger issues, or even drivers who are drunk or illegally impaired. The most threatening situations often happen when both drivers respond aggressively, and can turn violent if both people get out of their vehicles to confront one another.
Keep reading for some road rage statistics that might shed some light on the growing problems on our roadways.
- In 2022, 141 people were killed by guns during a road rage incident.
- In 2019, nearly 8 in 10 drivers exhibited aggressive behaviors behind the wheel.
- Millennials are the most likely to experience road rage.
- 62% of people choose to listen to music to manage feelings of road rage.
- Deadly road rage incidents are on the rise
- Men tend to drive more aggressively than women, but younger drivers are more aggressive overall
- Millennials were the age group most likely to experience road rage
- To calm feelings of road rage, respondents play music
- 19.3% of respondents reported feeling anger and intense aggression while driving in the past year
- Drivers reported that phone usage was the most frustrating thing another driver could do
- High-anger drivers are more likely to go 10 to 20 mph over the speed limit
- Speeding was the primary behavior associated with fatal car crashes
- Reckless driving could increase your insurance premiums by 61%
- Almost half of all drivers have driven at least 15 mph over the speed limit
- Tips for avoiding road rage
- Bottom line
Deadly road rage incidents are on the rise
In 2022, 141 people were killed and 413 were wounded by guns during a road rage incident, according to the Gun Violence Archive via Everytown For Gun Safety. This is more than twice the rate from 2018, when 70 died and 176 were injured during road rage occurrences.
Source: Gun Violence Archive via Everytown for Gun Safety, Safe Motorist, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), The Zebra
FactThe states with the highest rate of people shot in road rage incidents were New Mexico, Arizona, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.
Men tend to drive more aggressively than women, but younger drivers are more aggressive overall
The stereotype of men being more aggressive drivers was found to be true in a 2019 survey done by AAA, but younger male and female drivers tend to be more aggressive compared to older drivers. Speeding was the most common aggressive behavior and was a factor in 10,295 (19.1%) of fatal car and motorcycle crashes in 2020.
The AAA survey also found that 52% of men and 44.6% of women drove 15 mph or more over the speed limit on a freeway. Additionally, 37.8% of men and 29.3% of women prevented another vehicle from merging by following too closely.
Source: AAA, Insurance Information Institute (III)
Millennials were the age group most likely to experience road rage
The group with the highest level of road rage in 2019, according to a study by The Zebra, was millennials, with 51% taking part in aggressive driving incidents. Millennials were followed by Gen X at 21% and baby boomers at 4.2%.
Twenty percent of millennials said they have slowed down to frustrate other drivers who want them to move over.
NHTSA found that younger drivers (ages 15-34), not millennials, were more likely to be speeding when involved in a fatal accident in 2020. Thirty-five percent of 15 to 20-year-old males and 18% of females were speeding when in a deadly crash, compared to 22% of male drivers and 13% of female drivers aged 35-44.
Source: The Zebra, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
To calm feelings of road rage, respondents play music
In 2019, 62% of people chose to listen to music to manage feelings of road rage, while 23% suggested thinking of something else, and 22% yelled or cursed to blow off steam.
Those numbers changed in 2020 when listening to music or a podcast dropped to just 30.5% of respondents, and 19.2% of people thought peaceful thoughts after a road rage incident.
Just 9.5% of drivers blew off steam by screaming in their cars.
Source: The Zebra
19.3% of respondents reported feeling anger and intense aggression while driving in the past year
Although feelings of road rage seemed to decline slightly during the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021 (by 1.9%), there were still many incidents.
A survey by The Zebra showed that of the 1,500 people surveyed, the most common act of road rage witnessed was people honking their horns at another driver (48.3%). About 40% said they also noticed drivers using rude hand gestures, up from 38% in 2019, while 35.8% saw a driver yell at another driver.
Source: The Zebra
Drivers reported that phone usage was the most frustrating thing another driver could do
In March 2021, The Zebra found that out of 1,500 respondents, 30% thought being on the phone was the most annoying thing another driver could do, followed by distracted driving, tailgating, and cutting off other drivers. Only 6.8% of respondents said that traffic was the most annoying thing about driving.
Fact40.8% of drivers reported that road rage was just as dangerous as distracted driving, while 41.4% said it was as dangerous as drunk driving.
Source: The Zebra
High-anger drivers are more likely to go 10 to 20 mph over the speed limit
A study done by Colorado State University and presented by the American Psychological Association found that self-reported high-anger drivers were more likely to engage in hostile or aggressive thinking and take more risks with their driving habits, such as driving 10 to 20 mph over the posted speed limit speeding, horn honking, rapidly changing lanes and tailgating.
Source: American Psychological Association, The Zebra
Speeding was the primary behavior associated with fatal car crashes
There were 33,487 fatal crashes in 2019 and 35,766 in 2020. The Insurance Information Institute (III) says that in 2019, 17.2% of those crashes were caused by speeding, followed by driving under the influence at 10.1%. According to the NHTSA, speeding has contributed to nearly one-third of all crashes for the last two decades, leading to 29% (11,258) of all traffic fatalities in 2020.
Enforcing traffic laws and intensive public awareness remains the primary tool in reducing speeding and other forms of aggressive driving.
Source: Insurance Information Institute (III), The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), NHTSA Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) Encyclopedia
Reckless driving could increase your insurance premiums by 61%
Having aggressive driving violations on your record, like speeding, running red lights, racing, or reckless driving, can raise your insurance rates drastically.
According to The Zebra, in 2020, having a reckless driving charge on your record increased premiums by 61% on average, jumping from $1,456 a year for no violations to $2,389 for a reckless driving charge. A charge of racing made premiums jump even further, to $2,480 on average.
To save on your insurance premiums, avoid aggressive driving behaviors.
Source: The Zebra
Almost half of all drivers have driven at least 15 mph over the speed limit
According to AAA, 48% of drivers (106 million) have gone 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway within 30 days of their 2019 survey. Thirty-one percent, or 68 million drivers, have driven through a red light, and 25% (55 million drivers) sped up when another vehicle tried to overtake them. Twenty-eight percent, or 62 million drivers, continued to merge into traffic, even when another driver tried to close the gap between vehicles.
Two percent admit to trying to run another driver off the road.
Source: The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s 2019 report
Tips for avoiding road rage
Avoiding road rage is safer for everyone and can be good for your wallet. Finding the best car insurance often means finding the best rates available, which can be challenging if you have an aggressive driving incident on your record.
To avoid getting into a road rage situation, do the following:
- Don’t cut people off: When you merge into a traffic lane, ensure you have plenty of room and maintain a safe distance between you and other drivers.
- Use your turn signals: Make sure other drivers know what you intend to do by using your turn signal whenever you prepare to turn, merge, or pull off to the side of the road.
- Allow other drivers to merge into traffic: It may feel like you’re getting somewhere faster by preventing other cars from merging in, but you’re likely frustrating other drivers and creating a dangerous situation if they have to change speeds abruptly.
- Use your high-beam headlights sparingly: Your high-beam headlights should be used only when the weather and road conditions require. Keeping them on unnecessarily can blind other drivers and prevent them from seeing obstructions.
- Tap the horn only when necessary: Sometimes, you need to use your horn to alert another driver to your presence, but don’t use long blasts or add rude hand gestures to your horn taps.
- Only use one parking space: Don’t take up more than one parking space for any reason. Even if you are just running into a store quickly, taking up two or more spaces can greatly inconvenience another driver. Be considerate in parking lots and offer other drivers the same courtesy you want for yourself.
- Avoid rude or obscene gestures: Do not make rude gestures at other drivers, no matter how frustrated you get. Even if it seems harmless, you never know how the other driver will react.
- Practice patience: Instead of judging the other driver, imagine why a person is driving that way. They may be trying to get to the hospital as quickly as possible or be a first responder trying to get to the scene of an accident. Offer people the benefit of the doubt, and don’t take offense at other drivers’ behavior.
- Don’t respond to aggression with aggression: Perhaps most importantly, don’t respond to another driver’s aggression or rudeness with hostility. Instead, take a deep breath, avoid eye contact, and maintain space around your vehicle. As righteous as it may feel, you’ll only worsen the situation if you respond with anger, potentially leading to dangerous consequences.
Avoiding road rage and aggressive driving seems to be getting more complicated. More traffic on the roads increases the likelihood of an incident, especially during rush hour or holiday travel. Remember to stay courteous to other drivers, and reduce the possibility of a road rage incident by obeying all traffic laws and maintaining enough distance between other vehicles.