According to AAA, nearly 80 percent of drivers expressed significant anger or aggression behind the wheel at least once in their lives. While it’s normal to get frustrated when you’re stuck in traffic or another driver unexpectedly cuts you off, getting filled with blinding rage to the point where you lose control or want to injure someone is a serious issue.
It can be easy for driving situations to escalate. After all, no one is perfect, and driving mistakes happen to every driver from time to time. However, when you attempt to correct your mistake at the expense of another driver and that driver takes it personally, you could end up with a road rage incident on your hands.
Scary Road Rage Statistics
Road rage is a leading cause of accidents in the United States. While most drivers may not consider themselves as aggressive when they get behind the wheel, many behaviors can qualify as aggressive driving. Speeding, for instance, trying to beat red lights or flashing your headlights when you feel someone is driving too slow in your lane, are both forms of aggressive driving.
A few eye-opening facts and statistics about road rage include:
- 66 percent of all traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving
- Over a seven-year study period, there were over 200 murders caused by a road rage incident
- 49 percent of road rage incidents are caused by a distracted driver
- 37 percent of aggressive driving situations involve a firearm
- More than 12,000 preventable injuries have occurred due to road rage
What Causes Road Rage?
Road rage incidents are on the rise in the U.S. in part due to the amount of time Americans spend in their vehicles. More than 90 percent of people drive to work on a daily basis, and when it comes to commuting in larger cities, one out of three drivers spend over 40 hours per year stuck in a traffic jam. Additionally, there are simply more drivers on the road today than ever before, which correlates to the rise in aggressive behaviors.
When people get stressed out by other aspects of their lives, sitting in traffic can easily add to this stress and cause them to behave inappropriately. Additionally, it’s estimated that seven percent of Americans suffer from a condition called intermittent explosive disorder (IED), which causes an individual’s anger to flare instantly and violently. Even the slightest offense on the road can increase the potential for a road rage incident for these individuals.
How to Avoid a Road Rage Incident
Aggressive, angry drivers affect everyone on the road, from other drivers to pedestrians and innocent bystanders. If you find that you’ve angered another driver, your best bet is to avoid reacting or retaliating in any way as this will only further escalate the situation. Avoid eye contact and focus on the task at hand: getting to your destination as safely as possible.
When your own emotions get high behind the wheel, do your best to take a moment to calm down. Take some deep breaths and think twice about laying on that horn or making an obscene gesture. You never know what might set off the other driver when you give in to your anger. Try to remember to practice tolerance, consideration and forgiveness, not allowing your emotions to lead to a destructive, dangerous choice.
DriveTeam is a premier driving school, offering teen driving classes and corporate driver training to drivers of all ages to ensure everyone stays as safe as possible behind the wheel. Contact us today for more information.