Road rage: Don’t drive on Fridays in August

Our poll, Is common courtesy lacking on our roads?, received a resounding 88% Yes. But the poll didn’t ask about incidents of road rage. Anecdotal evidence suggests drivers everywhere are becoming increasingly less patient and a lot more aggressive.

Australia ninth worst

According to a 2014 survey of 3,000 drivers in 20 countries, Australian motorists are the ninth worst road ragers; they experience more of it than Turkish, Dutch or Norwegian drivers. Australians even rate higher for aggressive gestures than Italy.

The survey, conducted by LeasePlan UK found:

  • 52% of Australian drivers said they’d been on the end of aggressive gestures
  • 34% had been verbally abused
  • 40% had been blocked in the road.

Matt Dyer, MD at LeasePlan UK, reckons “heavily congested roads are taking their toll on drivers with busy lives, resulting in worrying levels of poor driver behaviour”. Another view is that people feel protected inside their cars, and are likely to behave in ways they usually wouldn’t outside a car.

Traditional surveys are not the only way of gauging road rage.

Thanks to Instagram (the photo sharing app), The Auto Insurance Centre was able to measure road rage in America as it happened, using more than 65,000 posts, hashtagged #RoadRage. Its results were quite predictable:

Time for road rage

The worst day for road rage was Friday

  • Worst month was August, followed by July (happy Summer holidays?)
  • The worst time of the day was rush hour, peaking at 6pm
  • Worst cities for road rage were LA and New York City.

Another way of measuring road rage is to use a dash cam.

Catch ’em on dash cam

Road Shamer is a new website where drivers in Australia (Russia, Israel and America)
can post dash cams of badly behaving drivers. This includes reckless driving, running a red light, and road rage. Road Shamer, it says, is a “global movement aimed at improving road safety by putting the power back in the hands of you, the driver”.

One academic posed an interesting question: what will happen to road rage when driverless cars hit the road? Will other drivers rage at the machine? Or will they rage at the passengers in it?

Experts claim that road ragers are looking for someone to dominate – will they find ways to prove they are better than cars without a driver?

Perhaps there should be more focus – in driving tests, in the media – on how to handle stressful situations well while driving. You can’t do much about traffic or other bad drivers, but you can do something about your own response.

Corrina Baird

Writer and expert

Corrina used to lend her car to her kids and discovered first hand what Ls, Ps and demerits mean for greenslips. After 20 years of writing and research in financial services, she’s an expert in the NSW CTP scheme. Read more about Corrina

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