The vast majority of Americans have expressed angry at other drivers in the past year, according to a study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
Nearly 80 percent of U.S. drivers admitted to significant anger, aggression or road rage while behind the wheel, the study says.
“That seems about right,” said Brandiex Hardy, a cab driver for Cab Guy’s Transportation in Dayton. “I’d like to say that it’s higher, but people don’t like to admit to doing it. And I’d say that about 15 percent of that leads to fights.”
AAA’s findings also revealed that 8 million drivers engaged in “extreme examples of road rage,” including purposefully ramming another vehicle or getting out of a car to confront another driver.
Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer believes road rage has been an issue for many years. He has been sheriff since 2003, and previously worked with the Xenia Police Division.
“In my career I’ve investigated accidents several times, and looking back, could it have been classified as a road rage incident before it became the popular way to describe things? Yes,” Fischer said. “I don’t think it’s a new problem.”
Fischer says he has seen a recent increase in complaints of aggressive driving, and that many instances of reckless and rageful driving can be attributed to smartphone use behind the wheel.
“Distracted driving is a huge problem today,” he said. “It’s sad that when you go down the interstate and you look at the car next to you, and the driver is looking down and is basically driving with their knees on the steering wheel.
“And it’s common to see that. It’s a growing problem, and something needs to be done.”
Inclement weather also is a cause of local road rage, Hardy said.
“People seem to want to drive a little bit more recklessly in bad weather,” she said. “I don’t think people realize that they’re putting themselves at a greater risk by driving that way.”
Drivers tend to drive worse in bad weather because they grow impatient of slow, cautious drivers, Hardy said. However, she also experiences a similar kind of road rage when driving customers around the city.
“For me, having a customer in the car, you have to drive safer and be more cautious,” Hardy said. “There have been times when I swear a lot, like a sailor, because I’m going slower and driving safely and people want to honk at me and cut me off.”
AAA’s study estimates that 104 million drivers, or just more than 50 percent of the nation’s drivers, purposefully tailgated others in the past year.
Ninety-five million yelled at another driver; 91 million drivers honked; and an estimated 67 million made angry gestures, according to the study.
The data was collected from a national survey of 2,705 licensed drivers, ages 16 and older, who reported driving in the past 30 days.
In response to the study, AAA spokesperson Cindy Antrican said that drivers should try to not alter the paths of other drivers.
“Don’t cause another driver to have to change their speed or direction, just because you want to pull out,” Antrican said. “Just don’t be an offensive driver.”
Nearly two in three drivers believe that aggressive driving is a bigger problem today than three years ago, while nine out of 10 believe aggressive drivers are a serious threat to their personal safety, AAA’s study said.
Males and drivers ages 19-39 were significantly more likely to engage in aggressive behavior.
“Normal, everyday frustrations such as stress, heavy traffic and rude drivers, can escalate into alarming road rage situations,” Antrican said. “When drivers find their tempers rising, it’s important to make an effort to stay calm, and remember the old ‘count-to-10’ rule before responding aggressively.”