A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

New survey reveals prevalence of aggressive driving; motorists urged to keep cool this holiday season

Nearly 80 percent of drivers expressed anger, aggression or road range behind the wheel at least once in the past year, according to data gathered by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Speeding tops the list, with men being the biggest culprit, though women are not far behind. With everyday stress already compounded by the pandemic, and now the holiday season potentially elevating tensions on the road, AAA urges motorists to keep their cool and avoid dangerous driving habits.

“Aggressive behaviors, such as speeding, red-light running, and cutting other drivers off, can kill or injure you, your passengers, and others sharing the road,” said Lori Weaver Hawkins, public and government affairs manager, AAA Blue Grass. “Driving aggressively is not worth the risk. When you get behind the wheel, put your aggressions in check. Be patient, be courteous, and obey traffic laws so everyone gets home safely.”

Aggressive behaviors prevalent

Data gathered by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety confirms the perception that men tend to speed, tailgate, merge dangerously, and make rude gestures or honk at other drivers more than women. The survey finds that women also admit to some dangerous driving habits, such as running red lights. Overall, younger male and female drivers tend to be more aggressive than older drivers.

Nearly 80 percent of drivers expressed anger, aggression or road range behind the wheel at least once in the past year. (AAA graphic)

AAA Rules of the Road
Contrary to common perception, speeding does not save time on the road. The average amount saved on a five-mile trip, driving 65 mph on a 45 mph posted road, is only 1.9 minutes.

AAA encourages drivers to slow down and follow these important rules of the road:

• Follow posted speed limits.

• Maintain an adequate following distance.

• Use turn signals.

• Allow others to merge.

• Use your high beams responsibly.

• Be considerate in parking lots. Park in one spot, not across multiple spaces. Be careful not to hit cars next to you with your door.

A driver may react wrongly to another driver’s action on any given day, and the holidays can add to the stress and anxiety. Introduce the pressures and concerns tied to a global pandemic, and even the calmest, most safety-conscious drivers can find themselves frustrated by other motorists.

“If you encounter an aggressive driver on the road or find your temper rising, remember to slow yourself down, breathe deeply, and safely create distance between you and other motorists. Aggressive drivers are likely not thinking about their potential impact on others until it is too late,” added Weaver Hawkins.

AAA offers these tips to help drivers manage aggressive driving scenarios:

-Don’t offend. Never cause another driver to change their speed or direction. That means not forcing another driver to use their brakes or turn the steering wheel in response to something you have done.

-Be tolerant and forgiving. The other driver may just be having a really bad day. Assume that it’s not personal.

-Do not respond. Avoid eye contact, don’t make gestures, maintain space around your vehicle, and contact 9-1-1 if needed.

For more information, visit www.aaa.com/preventroadrage.

AAA Blue Grass

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