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30 Shocking Road Rage Statistics for Drivers [2021]

We’ve all gotten annoyed by another driver on the road, but when that feeling escalates to anger, a situation can turn dangerous fast. Road rage is an escalation of aggressive driving tactics such as making rude gestures, and it is a criminal offense. Our list of road rage statistics details the causes and their shocking impacts on U.S. roadways.

If you are injured by an angry driver, you may be entitled to compensation. Legal counsel can help conduct an investigation and fight for your rights.

Road Rage vs. Aggressive Driving

Road rage and aggressive driving are sometimes used interchangeably — so what is the difference between the two? Aggressive driving is a moving traffic offense that endangers another driver, and road rage is when this violation escalates to a criminal offense such as violence or intent to purposely harm another driver.

Aggressive driving includes tailgating, flipping rude gestures, weaving in and out of lanes, and more. Road rage is more violent acts, such as rear ending or bumping a car in anger, throwing something at another car, or attacking another driver.

Another difference between aggressive driving and road rage is the penalty. Aggressive driving is a ticketed traffic offense whereas road rage is a criminal offense that can lead to serious jail time.

How Many Road Rage Fatalities are There Each Year?

Road rage leads to 30 murders each year, and aggressive driving is a factor in an estimated 56% of all fatal crashes. This means that road rage murders, while terrifying, are rare, but fatalities from crash-related injuries sparked by aggressive driving are extremely common.

What Causes Road Rage

There are multiple factors that contribute to road rage, and oftentimes more than one are at play. Road conditions such as traffic and congestion often escalate aggressive driving offenses, and when paired with an angry driver in the wrong headspace, these situations can turn ugly fast.

Life stress, such as a fight with a spouse or getting fired at work, can cause a driver to see red behind the wheel. Drivers who don’t have good anger management skills are also at risk to snap and endanger their neighbors. Read on to learn about the proven causes of road rage.

Another angry man without seat belt

Young males are the most likely to perpetuate road rage.

APA

Teens mirror their parents’ bad driving habits in almost equal amounts.

Claims Journal

Traffic congestion is one of the most frequently cited reasons for aggressive driving.

IIHS

Men are more likely to honk, speed, or cut off other drivers, whereas women are more likely to swear, make a rude gesture, or intentionally tailgate.

Spark Plugs

Angry drivers get angry more easily and more frequently, are more likely to react impulsively, and express their feelings more aggressively.

PubMed

View of the wheel of a car going fast

High anger drivers drive at higher speeds and are twice as likely to crash in simulations.

PubMed

At least 94% of traffic crashes are caused by human error.

NHTSA

It’s possible to reduce road rage among high-anger drivers through a series of cognitive and relaxation techniques.

APA

Green traffic light with a cannabis leaf

People who use alcohol and drugs, including cannabis, are more likely to experience road rage.

PubMed

People who cover their cars in stickers and other adornments are more likely to engage in road rage behavior.

Wiley Online Library

Studies have revealed that feeling anonymity while driving contributes to road rage.

NHTSA

Road Rage Facts

There are more drivers on the road now than ever before, and road rage is a growing problem. An estimated 80% of Americans frequently express significant anger while driving, and many don’t realize that road rage is a criminal offense. Here are some more road rage facts.

Traffic accident between a car and a bicycle

A study analyzed 10,000 road rage incidents over 7 years and found they caused at least 218 murders and 12,610 injury cases.

AAA

56% of fatal crashes from 2003 to 2007 involved aggressive driving and speeding was the most common factor.

III

Road rage incidents involving firearms more than doubled between 2014 and 2016.

The Trace

The increase in road rage incidents may be due to the fact that there are more drivers on the road driving more miles than ever before.

IIHS

4% of drivers admit they’ve gotten out of their car to confront another driver.

AAA

Traffic police taking the driver's license

50% of drivers who experience road rage respond with aggressive behavior.

NHTSA

Drivers with guns in the car are more likely to make obscene gestures and aggressively follow other drivers.

Harvard Injury Control Research Center

Nearly 90% of drivers feel that aggressive drivers are a “somewhat” or “very serious” threat to their safety.

AAA

8 in 10 Americans express significant anger, road rage, or aggression at least once a month, according to a recent study.

AAA

people arguing after an accident

3% of drivers, or an estimated 6 million Americans, admit to hitting another car on purpose in a fit of rage.

AAA

Road Rage Death Statistics

Sadly, road rage can and does lead to death. These worst case scenarios may involve intentional murder or be the cause of traffic collisions that lead to death. Offenders can be charged criminally for these acts.

Busy street crossing

Fatal accidents occur most commonly at rush hour, between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

NHTSA

Road rage fatalities increased 500% in 10 years and are still on the rise.

NHTSA

In 2016, the U.S. averaged 1 death a day attributed to road rage.

NHTSA

Baby boomers cause just 8.2% of fatal aggressive driving accidents, whereas millennials are involved in more than half.

NHTSA

Aggressive actions such as tailgating, illegal passing, and erratic lane changing are a factor in an estimated 56% of fatal crashes.

AAA

Road Rage Statistics by State

State laws play a role in road rage frequency. Speed limit ordinances, gun regulations, and laws targeting aggressive driving all help reduce road rage. Other laws, such as Stand Your Ground, can make prosecuting road rage more difficult and may therefore encourage drivers to take more risks on the road when they feel that they’ve been slighted.

Judge's hammer

11 U.S. states have passed laws against aggressive driving.

GHSA

Drivers in the state of Texas are allowed to drive up to speeds of 85 mph.

IIHS

Over the past 25 years, rising state speed limits have cost nearly 37,000 lives.

IIHS

Florida led the nation in road rage incidents from 2014 to 2016 with 147 incidents reported.

The Trace

In Utah, there were 31 reported road rage incidents in 2020.

UHP

How to Prevent Road Rage and Stay Calm Behind the Wheel

The good news about road rage is that it is preventable. Defensive driving and de-escalation techniques can train drivers to stay calm and not give in to anger. The tips below will help you take the high road.

Ways to De-escalate Road Rage Incidents

While ultimately an act of road rage is the reactionary person’s fault, driving defensively can lower your chances of inflaming an angry driver. Here’s how to keep emotions at bay.

  1. Don’t return rude gestures : In the heat of the moment, it can be hard not to be reactionary — but resist the urge to return rude gestures and take the high road instead. This will hopefully stop an angry driver’s mood from worsening.
  2. Apologetically wave but avoid eye contact: Mishaps on the road happen. If you’ve done something to upset a nearby driver, apologetically wave to signal that you’re sorry and you’re acknowledging your mistake. Because eye contact can be seen as aggressive, focus your attention on the road ahead as you wave.
  3. Put distance between you and the other driver: If you feel like you’re being tailgated or targeted by another driver, safely switch lanes. Hopefully, this lands you in a slower lane and they breeze past you.
  4. Take less crowded routes: Congestion is a common factor in most aggressive driving incidents, as people are more likely to get irritated while sitting in traffic. If possible, take a less traveled way home, even if this means adding a few minutes to your commute.
  5. Plan ahead and leave early: You won’t be speeding to your next stop if you’re not in a rush to get there. Traffic and other roadblocks are an inevitable part of driving, so give yourself time to handle unexpected delays with ease.
Woman driving calmly

Tips for Staying Calm While Driving

Want to make sure you never become one of those angry drivers discussed above? Here are tips to stay calm and practice mindfulness behind the wheel.

  1. Get a good night’s sleep the night before: 40% of drivers have fallen asleep behind the wheel. Driving tired increases the risk of a crash and makes drivers more irritable.
  2. Use scents to boost your mood: Air fresheners and essential oils can create a spa-like effect in your car. Lavender and vanilla scents aid in relaxation and citrus increases alertness while curbing anxiety.
  3. Adjust your car settings before you start the engine: Hitting the highway sitting too far away from the driver’s wheel is a surefire way to give yourself anxiety and stress. Take a few moments before each ride to make sure your seat and mirrors are in the right position.
  4. Maintain a clean car: Keeping your car clean will instill pride while also fighting off feelings of anxiety and stress. A good rule of thumb is to empty all of the trash out of your car each time you stop for gas.
  5. Sit in silence or turn on low frequency sounds: While listening to loud music can help a trip go by faster, it also increases distractions and can get your heart rate up. Instead, try sitting in silence or if that feels unsettling, turn on nature sounds or a podcast.
  6. Practice deep breathing exercises: If you feel your mind start to wander or your blood start to boil, refocus your intention with deep breathing exercises. Count from 1 to 10 before you give any energy to other drivers on the road, then decide how to respond.
  7. Unclench your jaw and relax your fists: Your muscles and joints can contribute to feelings of stress and anger. Make sure you aren’t gripping your steering wheel too tight and unclench your jaw when you start to feel annoyed at nearby drivers.
  8. Be compassionate: When driving, it’s easy to “thingify” other vehicles but this can increase feelings of anger. Instead, practice compassion and remind yourself there’s another driver behind the wheel of every vehicle — perhaps someone who just got sad news or is rushing home to a family.

Road rage is a serious and growing problem in the U.S.. Avoid raging drivers and stop yourself from contributing to the issue by practicing compassion and mindfulness. If you are the victim of a road rage incident, remember to seek legal advice to find out if you’re entitled to compensation.