Road rage is caused by drivers expressing extreme aggression with the intent to cause verbal and physical harm to their surroundings. The term road rage gained massive popularity during the 1990s when cases of extreme aggression and anger while driving started trending throughout the United States. Today, many states consider road rage a criminal offense.
This article has collected the most up-to-date statistics from various sources including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the American Automobile Association, and the American Psychological Association to spread awareness of road rage.
Table of context:
- Road rage vs aggressive driving: What’s the difference?
- Road rage statistics
- Road rage risk factors
- Frequently asked questions
- Road rage: A summary of key insights + statistics
Road rage vs aggressive driving: What’s the difference?
The following information contains data collected from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Road rage and aggressive driving have many legal differences. While road rage is considered a criminal offense in most states, aggressive driving is only considered a traffic violation.
Aggressive driving involves reckless behavior such as speeding, tailgating, and blocking another vehicle from passing through. Road rage is linked to more extreme behavior that directly puts other drivers at risk. A good example of road rage is forcing another vehicle off the road. Around 2% of drivers admit to having attempted to force another driver off the road at least once.
The table below shows the differences between aggressive driving and road rage:
|AGGRESSIVE DRIVING||ROAD RAGE|
|Definition||Unsafe driving behavior that puts other drivers at risk||3Extreme unsafe driving behavior that puts other drivers at immediate risk to their life and their property.|
Road rage statistics
This data is taken from the American Automobile Association, the Auto Insurance Center, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
According to the NHTSA, about 60% of drivers admit to their families feeling threatened and unsafe from road rage. While more than 75% say that something needs to be done to decrease the amount of road rage that occurs in the U.S.
- Nearly 80% of drivers have experienced some type of road rage from another reckless driver in the last 30 days alone.
- 78% admit to having engaged in extremely aggressive behavior while driving.
- 50% of drivers admit to expressing rude behavior or tailgating while driving.
Males are more commonly involved in road rage according to a study conducted by the American Automobile Association. Almost 30% of female drivers admit to having followed other drivers closely on purpose. This number went up to 37.7% for male drivers.
Aggressive driving & road rage: Female vs. Male
|Drive through red light||30.0%||32.2%|
|switch lanes quickly||21.4%||31.5%|
Statistics confirm that a major cause of road rage has to do with the age of the driver. It was found that different age groups were more likely to get involved in certain types of road rage.
According to the American Automobile Association, millennials (ages 25-39) were most likely to get involved in all types of road rage behaviors. While Older Gen z (ages 19-24) were more likely to harass other drivers and intentionally hit other vehicles.
Aggressive driving & Road rage: By generation
|YOUNGER GEN Z (17-18)||OLDER GEN Z (19-24)||MILLENNIALS (25-39)||GEN X (40-59)||BABY BOOMERS (60-74)||POST-WAR (75+)|
|Block from changing lanes||12%||28%||27.5%||26.3%||19.3%||17.9%|
Road rage risk factors
This data is taken from the American Psychological Association, the Auto Insurance Center, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Almost 50% of all victims involved in road rage express that they feel enraged. This leads them to want to take revenge, which is what makes road rage so contaminating and dangerous.
Certain factors may increase road rage behavior. These factors include:
- Time of year: Road rage is more common in the summer and autumn months. Months with the highest number of road rage include July, August, and September.
- Day of the week: Road rage is more common to occur by the end of the week with the highest on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
- Time of the day: According to the Auto Insurance Center, road rage is more likely to happen during rush hour between 4 pm and 7 pm.
- Type of vehicle driven: Drivers with older car models are more prone to road rage when compared to earlier models.
The NHTSA reveals that several factors push drivers to commit road rage such as:
- Drunk driving
- Passing where prohibited
- Illegal driving in ditches, sidewalks, or road shoulders
- Operating a vehicle in a neglecting and careless manner
- Failure to obey traffic laws
- Failure to signal
Road rage FAQs
Q: How many fatalities occur because of road rage each year?
A: An average of 1800 people are injured and 31 are killed annually because of road rage according to SafeMotorist.
Q: How many accidents happen because of road rage?
A: Between 2003 and 2007, about 56% of car accidents in the U.S were a result of road rage.
Q: What is the most common road rage behavior?
A: Expressing rude behavior is the most common road rage. 48.3% of road rage was linked to drivers honking their horns excessively.
Q: Is road rage getting worse?
A: Yes. Road rage is trending significantly with a 98% increase in injuries caused by road rage violence from 2017 to 2021. Most of this is caused by gun violence while driving.
A summary of key insights + statistics
- Running late and stress is the most commonly used excuse for extremely aggressive behavior while driving.
- Alcohol remains the main factor that leads to road rage.
- 2021 was the deadliest year for road rage with 44 total deaths or severely injured (most being victims of road rage gun violence).
- 82% of drivers admitted to committing road rage at least once in 2019.
- 300 deaths have been caused by road rage since 2013.
- 50% of drivers attempt to take revenge on the extreme aggressive behavior of other drivers.
- 37% of road rage is caused by gun violence while driving.
- There has been a 500% increase in road rage in the last decade.
The majority of people in the U.S. attribute this violence as a part of everyday life on the road and, therefore, it is difficult to be avoided. But with the increase in aggressive driving, police enforcement, public awareness campaigns, and public opinion has now shifted considerably and there is more that needs to be done to prevent road rage from happening.
We’ll never know when a confrontation might occur on the road, but by steering the wheel of our vehicle according to the rules of the road – and avoiding aggressive driving – we can minimize the chances of a confrontation ever taking place.