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  • Writer's pictureKathryn Stagg

Road Rage More Common Than You Think

Driver looking in rearview mirror angrily
Photo by Joshua Wordel on Unsplash

Being involved in a road rage incident can be very unnerving, but unfortunately, according to research that has been replicated in studies globally, it's not that uncommon either.

Road rage incidents can take many different forms. On the extreme end, they can involve car chases and maneuvers that intentionally cause damage to other road users. But road rage incidents can also include things speeding to get in front of another vehicle or passing another road user improperly.

No matter the scale of the incident, road rage incidents always pose a risk, both to other road users and to the driver displaying road rage themselves. In a vehicle that weights hundreds of pounds and takes time to stop, even small acts of road rage can quickly escalate a situation out of the control of drivers or road users themselves.

Studies have been conducted by governments and traffic safety organizations around the world, and the consistency with which these studies show that road rage incidents occur is worrying. In many studies, a majority of respondents admitted to aggressive behaviour when behind the wheel.

"In a recent study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, nearly 80% of drivers expressed significant anger, aggression or road rage behind the wheel at least once in the 30 days prior to the study."

In AAA's study, behaviours cited by respondents included running a red light (31% of respondents admitted to having done so in the past), making rude gestures or honking at other drivers (32%), and following close behind another vehicle so that another driver would be unable to merge (34%) within the last 30 days.

One of the aggressive behaviours that the most amount of respondents admitted to was driving over the speed limit on the highway, with 48% of those surveyed saying they had done recently.

While the AAA is based in the United States, they are far from being the only country to receive such startling figures. In a study conducted recently in the UK, close to 60% of drivers said that they had been a victim of road rage.

While some may look at small aggressive behaviours as dangerous and unwise, but ultimately not a big deal, the research suggests otherwise. Take tailgating, one of the more common road rage behaviours exhibited by drivers globally - the statistics on rear-end collisions, the collision most likely to result from such behaviour, shows that it's all too common.

"A report published by The American Automobile Association's Foundation for Traffic Safety in 2016 found that rear-end collisions accounted for over 23% of all traffic accidents, which shows how dangerous tailgating can be."

Extreme forms of road rage can be hard to fathom for some - the response to the slight is often so disproportionate that it's hard to imagine, for those not prone to such extremes of anger, letting anything influence our behaviour to such an extent. But road rage in all of its forms, including those smaller behaviours that, as we have seen, are so common, are actually pretty understandable. Driving can be a very stressful behaviour, and when someone else is doing something that makes it that much more stressful, or difficult, it can be aggravating.

The problem is that, when we fail to account for how much influence our emotions can have on our behaviour behind the wheel, we don't fully account for how dangerous small acts of irritation or anger on the road can be. What's always more important than venting our anger is getting home safely, and ensuring that we're doing what we can to ensure others get home safely too.

When it comes to aggravation on the road, what's needed is some perspective, which studies like those talked about here can hopefully provide.

For more, read the original article on Next Base.


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