Just about everyone has encountered “road rage” in one form or another. It’s nearly a staple of automotive culture: We enjoy poking fun at comically over-angry drivers during our favorite late-night shows, after all. But for those who have encountered road rage in person, the experience can be incredibly terrifying. In fact, new road rage statistics reveal it is far more dangerous than some may think.
Road rage is a leading cause of accidents.
Even in those accidents that do not result in injury, road rage can be linked as a causing factor. More recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealed that 94% of all traffic accidents are caused by driver error. Of those accidents, 33% could be linked to behaviors typically assigned to road rage, such as illegal maneuvering or misjudging the intent of another driver.
Road rage leads to injuries, even deaths.
Back in 1990, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a study of over 10,000 traffic accidents linked to driver violence. Over a seven-year period, AAA found over 12,500 injuries could be linked to these acts. Road rage could also be linked to 218 deaths, mostly deliberate murders conducted by angry drivers. That number has been steadily increasing at a rate of 7% each year.
In fact, data gathered by SafeMotorist.com indicates that 66% of recent traffic fatalities can be linked to aggressive driving. More disturbingly, 37% of those fatalities were found to be caused by a firearm, rather than a typical accident. This shines a light on the fact that road rage often does not end once a driver is off the road or outside their car.
Many victims turn into aggressors themselves.
During a recent poll conducted by AAA, half of drivers who shared road rage stories admitted to engaging in aggressive behavior in response. This type of active engagement leads to more accidents, and sadly more deaths. Both AAA and NHTSA warn drivers to avoid giving in to the temptation to seek revenge or intimidate aggressive drivers. This kind of behavior often escalates a minor incident into dangerous combative driving, which can put even more drivers at risk.
AAA says there are some simple ways drivers can avoid encountering road rage. When asked what behaviors anger drivers the most, they cite cutting off, driving slow in the left lane, and tailgating as major offences that incite road rage. Avoiding these behaviors reduces a driver’s risk of angering another.
If someone does incite another driver into road rage, the most important thing to remember is “Don’t engage.” This means giving the angry driver a lot of room, avoiding eye contact, and (if you need to) finding help in a populated area. Keeping calm and following these steps often discourage aggressive drivers from engaging in more dangerous behavior.
High-anger driving can be managed.
People who experience bouts of road rage often have internal reasons for outbursts. This behavior has been linked to factors such as stress at home or work and behavioral imbalances such as impulsiveness. New research has found that chronically angry drivers who seek help, such as therapy, see a dramatic drop in personal road rage incidents.
Sources: AAA and AARP