Wake-Up Call: 7 Shocking Road Rage Statistics You Didn’t Know

As a driver, you’ve likely driven when you felt upset or emotional, were running late for an appointment, or felt anger at being treated rudely by another driver. All of these circumstances can set the stage for aggressive driving (or when taken to the extreme, road rage). Unfortunately, aggressive driving is extremely common and has increased in recent years

Road Rage Facts

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), aggressive driving occurs when “an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.”

Aggressive driving may look like: 

  • Following too closely

  • Changing lanes erratically

  • Driving on the road shoulder, in a ditch, or on a sidewalk or median

  • Passing other vehicles when it is not allowed  

  • Driving recklessly

  • Changing speeds suddenly, without warning

  • Failing to yield right of way

  • Failing to obey traffic laws

  • Failing to observe warnings or instructions on vehicle displaying them

  • Failing to signal

  • Driving too fast for conditions or in excess of posted speed limit

  • Racing other vehicles

  • Turning when it’s not allowed or in a careless way

Eighty percentof drivers admitted to having road rage in 2019. That’s just one eye-opening stat about aggressive driving. Here are seven more shocking road rage statistics you may have never heard. 

7 Shocking Road Rage Statistics

#1 - In 2020, Speeding Contributed to 29% of All Traffic Fatalities

Let’s be honest. Virtually all of us have glanced at the speedometer and realized we were going over the speed limit without even realizing it. Even though it may seem harmless when we’re doing it, speeding actually qualifies as a type of aggressive driving. 

Often, drivers respond to the frustration of being in traffic or running late for an appointment by speeding in an aggressive manner. This may seem harmless, but speeding and other aggressive driving maneuvers significantly increase the chances of a car crash. In fact, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data cites speeding as being the number one cause of fatal car crashes in 2019. 

The faster you are going when you collide with an object or another vehicle, the worse the collision is going to be. It’s easy to underestimate how dangerous speeding is to the driver and other people on the road, but speeding combined with bad weather, dark roads, or needing to stop unexpectedly can put lives in danger.

#2 - 56% of Fatal Crashes Involved Road Rage

As we just mentioned, aggressive driving increases your risk of being involved in a collision. But it’s a little surprising to learn that road rage is the cause of 56% of fatal crashes. More than half of fatal crashes can be linked to road rage behaviors such as speeding, changing lanes without signaling, tailgating and illegal maneuvers. 

#3 - Pandemic-related Stress Associated with a 12% jump in Vehicle Fatalities in 2021

Despite fewer people being on the road during the pandemic, vehicle fatalities have actually spiked since 2019. Experts say that 90% of crashes can be attributed to human error, and humans are much more likely to make driving errors when they drive aggressively. Stress, distractions, fatigue, and speed are all at the root of aggressive driving, and all of these things have been made worse by pandemic stress. More stress, leads to more aggressive driving, which leads to more crashes. 

#4 - Half of Drivers Respond Agressively to Road Rage

Unfortunately, instead of taking the high road, half of drivers respond to road rage with more road rage. 

Being the victim of road rage can trigger an otherwise calm driver to feel road rage. Many drivers don’t take being treated unkindly by an aggressive driver  lightly and can become angered or anxious themselves. When that happens a driver is much more likely to make decisions they otherwise wouldn’t make. 

Often, drivers react with road rage after experiencing road rage. The most common responses are: 

  • Horn honking
  • Light flashing
  • Rude gestures
  • Shouting 

Some of the startling things drivers have done in retaliation to road rage include:

  • Tailgating
  • Short braking
  • Bumping the other vehicle

How to Handle Road Rage Drivers

When you are on the receiving end of road rage, de-escalate the situation by taking a deep breath and getting out of the aggressive driver’s way. It’s easier said than done to keep your cool in a heated situation like road rage, but it’s always the best way to respond. Don’t get even; get out of the way.

The Dangers of Road Rage

#5 - A Person Was Shot in a Road Rage Incident Every 17 Hours in 2021  

You never want to provoke someone who is already driving dangerously for a variety of reasons. However, everyone reading this should always think twice before retaliating because the person could have a firearm in their car. 

By 2021, nearly two-thirds of road rage incidents involving a gun resulted in injury or death. The presence of a weapon can significantly raise the danger level, especially if tensions are already running high. It’s a danger not only for the drivers involved, but for other drivers and pedestrians in the area.

#6 - 66% of Traffic Fatalities Are Caused by Aggressive Drivers

According to NHTSA data in 2020, there were 35,766 fatal motor vehicle crashes in the United States in which 38,824 deaths occurred. 

Vehicles are safer than ever and more traffic laws are in place to protect drivers, passengers, and pedestrians alike. So why are the number of fatal car crashes still so high? As it turns out, no safety system in the world can protect you from an aggressive driver. Aggressive driving has been linked to more than half of all traffic fatalities.

#7 - In 2021 131 people were shot and killed because of road rage 

In 2021, there were 728 road rage incidents involving a gun. Sixty-two percent of those incidents led to an injury or death, and 131 people were killed. One explanation for this startling number? Data show that people are more aggressive when they have a gun in the car.

You never know what someone else is capable of or whether they have a weapon. Play it safe and always let road ragers get by you so hopefully you won’t get caught up in their dangerous driving behavior.

Learn How to Handle Road Rage in Driver’s Ed

You can decrease your chances of being in a road-rage-fueled accident by taking Driver’s Ed. In our course you’ll learn when it’s safe to drive and when it’s not a good idea to drive (like if you’re under the influence of any kind of substance, when you’re tired, upset, or angry). You’ll also learn how to drive defensively and protect yourself from aggressive drivers. 

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DriversEd.Com Staff Writers

Updated 8/3/22