Aggressive driving is a factor in 54% of all fatal motor vehicle crashes, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. We compiled the most recent statistics and facts on road rage in America to shed light on this growing problem.
Drivers in the United States will be in close contact with dangerous drivers. According to AAA, road rage is often characterized as aggressive driving and is responsible for more than half of all fatal car crashes. According to a separate study that lasted for years, road rage incidents were responsible for approximately 30 deaths and 1,800 injuries each year.
What is road rage?
Road rage is when drivers act out in extreme anger or aggression with the intent to cause or create physical harm.
Road rage was first used in the 1990s to describe the increasing number of cases of aggressive driving that were flooding the country. Although aggressive driving is still a traffic offense in most areas, many legislators have made it an offence to express road rage’s severity.
Road rage behavior
While aggressive driving is not synonymous with road rage, it is important to remember that aggressive driving can contribute to road rage. According to the NHTSA, aggressive driving is when “an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.”
Road rage is a dangerous and violent form of road rage.
Statistics on road rage
It can be hard to quantify aggressive driving and road rage. Although they play a role in accidents, they are not always the cause of injury or death. These statistics give us a better understanding of the road rage phenomenon.
- 78% of drivers reported that they had engaged in at least one aggressive driving behavior within the last year. This includes tailgating or honking to express annoyance to other drivers.
- In a seven-year period, road rage incidents caused 218 murders and 12,610 injuries.(AAA)
- This is about 30 deaths and 1800 injuries each year due to road rage.
- Running late is one reason for aggressive driving. It’s also the most common excuse for following too fast and passing on the right.
Road rage deaths and accidents
- Road rage is responsible for approximately 1,800 injuries annually. (AAA).
- On average, there are around 30 road rage fatalities per year.
- Road rage is on a rise with a 500% increase of fatalities due to aggressive driving crashes between 2006-2015
These are some of the leading causes of road rage accidents.
Gender is a major contributing factor in most road rage cases, with males more likely to exhibit road rage than females. Although tailgating another driver was a common behavior for both males and women, the proportions that are more likely to do so were roughly equal. You could cut off another driver (15.5% of males and 8.3% of women), confront them (5.7% of men, 1.8% females) or bump into another car (4.3% males, 1.3% females).
Road rage can also be influenced by age. According to AAA, drivers between 25 and 39 years old were most likely to display road rage behavior. The AAA found that drivers aged 19-24 were more likely to stop another driver from changing lanes, bumping or ramming another vehicle.
Road rage is dangerous because about half of road rage victims feel angry, which only amplifies the problem. Two percent of road rage victims confess to wanting revenge.
Is road rage a common occurrence?
The NHTSA surveys motorists to find out their feelings about safety on U.S. roads. A majority of respondents said that unsafe driving makes their family feel threatened, and three quarters of them urged the government to do something.
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a thorough investigation into American road behavior. These are some of the most shocking results.
- Nearly 80% of drivers stated that they experienced road rage, anger, or aggression while driving in the past month.
- Around 78% of drivers admit to being aggressive.
- Half of drivers confess to honking, screaming or tailgating other vehicles as their most common expressions if anger and frustration.
The worst states for road rage
Some states have significantly worse drivers than others.
While complete data for the number of road rage cases per state is not available, we looked at the Trace’s study on road rage with a firearm, and the statistics are alarming. From 2014 to 2016, Florida was the most populous state for road rage using a firearm. Texas, California and Tennessee are close behind. From 2014 to 2016, Louisiana saw 35 cases of road-rage with a firearm.
Certain cities and metropolitan areas in each state are more vulnerable to road rage with firearms than other. Based on 2014-2016 data, the top cities with road rage using a gun are Los Angeles, New York City and Phoenix.
Road rage risk factors
What factors make road rage more common? Despite the fact that incidents can occur anywhere, there are some factors that increase the risk of them happening.
- Age: Studies have shown that younger drivers are four times more likely than older drivers to get into an aggressive driving accident.
- Month and day: Road-rage incidents are more common in July, August and September, and into October. Based on Auto Insurance Center analysis of Instagram posts with the #roadrage hashtag, they are also more common towards the end of a week.
- Time of day: A similar social media study revealed that #roadrage usage was significantly higher between 4 and 7 p.m. (coinciding with peak commute times).
- Type of car: According to the NHTSA, drivers with convertible tops up honked more frequently, faster, and longer than those with their tops down.
Some behaviors are a cause of fatal accidents every time they happen. These behaviors often coincide with road rage, which is not surprising. According to the NHTSA, aggressive behavior is one of the main contributing factors to motor vehicle accidents.
- Driving under the influence (DUI).
- Change of lane in an erratic or improper manner
- Illegal driving in the ditch, on sidewalks, or medians is illegal
- Passing where it is prohibited
- Driving the vehicle recklessly, carelessly, negligently, or erratic.
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Failure to obey traffic signals, traffic control devices or traffic officers.
- Failure to follow warnings and instructions posted on vehicles
- Failure to sign
- Speeding too fast or exceeding the posted speed limit is a violation of conditions
Are you a contributing factor to road rage?
Road rage is most common in commuters who spend a lot time on the roads. Traffic congestion is often cited as the main factor in aggressive driving.
In its study, the NHTSA points out that more drivers are driving more miles each year. This could explain why aggression and rage have increased. There is simply not enough space for all the drivers who jam America’s highways and roads.
State-by-state laws regarding road rage
The law does not address road rage. Many states have not passed legislation specifically addressing road rage. Only a few states have aggressive driving laws.
Texas offers a clear definition for its law, defining reckless driving as “a willful disregard for the safety of persons or property.” A misdemeanor, you could face fines up to $200 and a maximum of 30 days in jail if found guilty.
Reckless driving in Delaware can result in up to $300 in fines, and up to 10 days imprisonment. In Virginia, reckless driving can result in up to $2,500 in fines and penalties. Oregon penalties can reach as high as $6.250. Drivers found guilty of reckless driving in Washington could face as much as $5,000 and up to 364 days in jail.
Massachusetts has the Juvenile Operator Law, also known as State Courts Against Road Rage, which requires teen drivers and certain offenders to complete a SCARR or driver improvement course.
Although there are still many things to be done on the legislative front, today road rage can be addressed by other charges such as aggressive driving, property damage and vehicular homicide. It can result in criminal charges if there is severe damage to property, or loss of life.
Car insurance rates affected by road rage
Car insurance is meant to provide financial protection against many incidents that can be caused by your vehicle. However, road rage is not covered. Nearly every car insurance policy will exclude intentional acts. Allstate is one example, writing into its policies that it will not cover “loss caused intentionally by or at the direction of an insured person.”
This means that if you are convicted of road rage your car insurance policy might not cover you. Any losses you suffer would be your responsibility. You could also sue the other driver for additional damages.
If you are found guilty of road rage or aggressive driving, your insurance company could drop your coverage if you are found negligent. As a high-risk driver, you might need to file for SR-22 car insurance.
At the very least, road rage is likely to increase car insurance rates, the amount of which will depend on where you live.
How to stop road rage
Road rage can be found everywhere. However, there are things you can do to avoid becoming the next victim.
Be respectful to other drivers and observe the rules of the road when driving.
- Maintain a safe distance from other vehicles.
- Use your turn signals to communicate all your intentions.
- Allow other drivers to merge.
- Avoid using your horn. If necessary, use a shorter honk than long, repeated honks.
- Avoid using offensive or inflammatory language and hand gestures.
- Be patient, no matter where you are, whether you’re waiting at a parking spot, in traffic, or at an intersection.
- If you are unable to see, don’t use your high beams.
Road rage, however frustrating U.S. roads may be, is not worth the dangers and risks it presents. Road rage won’t help you get home safely.
How to handle road rage situations
You should not lose your cool in a situation of road rage. Keep your eyes on the road and try to get to your destination safely. Don’t engage in conversation with another driver. Keep your eyes closed and keep your seatbelts on in the event of an unexpected brake. Avoid following someone in road rage situations. Instead, pull into a station, fire station, or other heavily populated area.
When you safely reach your destination, call 911. Please include the following information: time, date, place, license plate number, vehicle description, driver description, and vehicle description. Prepare to appear in court if necessary.