Driving is apparently a lot more stressful than we realize. A new study found that millions of Americans have engaged in the most aggressive forms of road rage, including ramming other cars and confronting drivers.
Even higher numbers, about half of all drivers, have purposely tailgated another car, yelled at another driver and honked in anger. Bird-flipping, chin-flicking, forearm-jerking and other offensive gestures have been practiced by about a third of all motorists.
In all, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that nearly 80 percent of drivers express “significant” anger, aggression or road rage behind the wheel given the right circumstance.
The researchers said the most startling finding was that 8 million Americans reported that they had rear-ended a vehicle, gotten out to challenge another driver — or both.
"Inconsiderate driving, bad traffic and the daily stresses of life can transform minor frustrations into dangerous road rage," Jurek Grabowski, director of research for the foundation, said in a news release. "Far too many drivers are losing themselves in the heat of the moment and lashing out in ways that could turn deadly."
The finding showed that 33 percent of drivers, or 67 million, have made an angry gesture at another driver in the past year, 24 percent have tried to block another car from changing lanes and 12 percent have cut off a vehicle on purpose.
The most aggressive drivers were men, by a 3-1 margin, and drivers ages 19 to 39. The most expressive drivers were in the Northeast; they were 30 percent more likely to make angry gestures than drivers in the rest of the country.
Drivers in the Midwest were the most likely of the four regions to tailgate, and drivers in the West were most likely to block someone from changing lanes.
The study polled 2,705 licensed drivers who had driven at least once in the last 30 days in 2014. The margin of error varies from 1.5 to 2.5 percent, depending on the responses.
Drivers told researchers they were guilty of the following behavior:
- Purposely tailgating: 51 percent (104 million drivers).
- Yelling at another driver: 47 percent (95 million drivers).
- Honking to show annoyance or anger: 45 percent (91 million drivers).
- Making angry gestures: 33 percent (67 million drivers).
- Trying to block another vehicle from changing lanes: 24 percent (49 million drivers).
- Cutting off another vehicle on purpose: 12 percent (24 million drivers).
- Getting out of the vehicle to confront another driver: 4 percent (7.6 million drivers).
- Bumping or ramming another vehicle on purpose: 3 percent (5.7 million drivers).
OK, Question: If I sustain injury by another’s “road rage”, does insurance pay for it?
Answer: Likely not. Typically, any harm that results from the use and operation of a motor vehicle is covered under that driver’s liability insurance policy.
But almost universally, auto insurance policies exclude “intentional acts” (you cannot get insurance for injuries that you intend).
If you are involved in an accident and cause another harm, your auto insurance will pay. If you get out of your car and get in a fight and cause further harm, you may well not be covered.
The high percentage of these occurrences is a bit alarming. Take it easy out there, everyone. Circumstances and accidents happen. Let’s keep our heads, and deal with them like reasonable adults.