Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

Nearly 80 percent of American drivers have experienced significant anger, aggression or road rage at least once over the past year, according to a study released Thursday by the Auto Club, which estimated that about eight million motorists intentionally rammed another vehicle or got out of a vehicle to confront another driver.

The report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that male drivers between 19 and 39 years old were “significantly” more likely to engage in aggressive behavior, while drivers in the northeastern United States were more likely to yell, honk or gesture angrily than motorists in other parts of the country.

“It’s normal for drivers to experience anger behind the wheel, but we must not let our emotions lead to destructive choices like road rage,” said Anita Lorz Villagrana, manager of the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Community & Traffic Safety Programs. “Don’t risk escalating a frustrating situation because you never know what the other driver might do. Maintain a cool head, and focus on reaching your destination safely.”

The study, based on interviews with more than 2,700 drivers, found that more than half reported purposefully tailgating another vehicle over the past year, while nearly half reported yelling or honking angrily at other drivers. One-third of drivers admitted making angry gestures at other motorists, and one- fourth intentionally blocked another vehicle from changing lanes.

More notably, 4 percent of drivers reported getting out of a vehicle to confront another driver, while 3 percent admitted bumping or ramming another vehicle.

The Auto Club urged motorists to avoid offending other drivers by taking care not to force another motorist to change speed or direction. Motorists should also “be tolerant and forgiving” and avoid responding to other drivers by avoiding eye contact and refraining from making gestures.

“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.”

—City News Service

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