It’s 8 a.m. and you’re on your way to work. Late, as usual. The streets are packed with commuters and the air is saturated with piercing honks and shrieks, and you’re about four blocks away from pulling your own hair out. If you’ve ever experienced this agony before, you’re not alone.
Road rage is a very real and dangerous thing, but according to a new study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, it’s much worse than we thought. Nearly 80 percent of drivers have expressed significant anger, aggression, or road rage behind the wheel at least once in the past year, and approximately 8 million Americans engaged in acts of extreme road rage, such as ramming another vehicle or confronting another driver. In other words, misery loves company.
“Inconsiderate driving, bad traffic and the daily stresses of life can transform minor frustrations into dangerous road rage,” said Jurek Grabowski, 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.”
The level of aggressive driving varies among different age groups and genders, but the AAA claims that male motorists aged 19-39 are significantly more likely to let their emotions get the better of them on the road. Overall, purposefully tailgating, yelling at another driver, and making angry gestures are the most common manifestations of road rage. Bumping or ramming another vehicle is the least likely scenario, but the AAA estimates nearly 5.7 million drivers have done it in the past year. Yikes.
Perhaps the most sobering statistic is the following: Nearly two in three drivers believe that road rage is a bigger problem today than it was three years ago. So unfortunately, this could be one issue that will get worse before it gets better.