‘Do not offend’: 80% of drivers admit to extreme anger, warns AAA

Special Reports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Road rage shootings have become a growing concern in Middle Tennessee. These violent incidents have authorities and drivers on the lookout for aggressive drivers on the brink of causing chaos.

Oftentimes, even when you’re driving carefully, others can put you at risk.

“Of course the issue comes in when aggressive driving escalates to what we call road rage. That’s when things can become very, very dangerous on the roadway,” said Megan Cooper, AAA spokesperson.

Cooper sees the trend all too often. According to a 2019, AAA study, nearly 80% of drivers admitted to experiencing significant anger behind the wheel. Eight million drivers said they have engaged in an extreme version of road rage, including ramming another car and forcing another driver off the road.

“When those frustrations sneak in, that’s when things can get very tricky. A lot of times we tend to take that personally where if someone cuts us off, or they want to merge lanes, we think that is targeted towards us, when likely it may not be,” Cooper said.

Some of those frustrations happen when drivers exhibit aggressive behavior, like honking, tailgating another car, and at the top of the list speeding on the freeway – something more than a million people admit to doing.

“If you are speeding more than likely you’re in a rush; you’re frustrated; you’re probably in a bad mood, and that can affect your driving habits,” said Cooper.

Cooper said these driving habits tend to be more frequent among men. Data gathered by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety confirmed the perception that men tend to speed, tailgate, merge dangerously, and make rude gestures or honk at other drivers. While women also admit to dangerous driving habits like running red lights.

“We also looked at the age factor. So regardless of gender, younger drivers were much more likely to engage in aggressive behavior than older drivers,” Cooper explained, “Especially, in a place like Nashville, where we do have a lot of traffic, we have a lot of interstate interchanges, there is a lot of merging that happens.”

Another major issue is location. In 2014, the state reported there were more than 4 million licensed drivers on Tennessee roads. With the number of people moving into the area increasing, so are the chances of being in a violent situation.

“When you have one or more frustrated drivers, then that makes it a lot more dangerous for everyone on the roadway,” Cooper said.

AAA offers 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 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 911 if needed


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