A new survey finds that eight in 10 Americans tend to drive aggressively, but men speed, tailgate, merge dangerously and honk or make rude gestures at other drivers more than women.
Data gathered by the American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 79% of American drivers demonstrate aggressive behaviors when behind the wheel.
Speeding tops the list of aggressive behaviors, with men being the biggest culprit, though women are not far behind.
Fifty-two percent of men surveyed said they had driven 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway, compared to 44.6% of women.
Contrary to common perception, speeding does not save time on the road, said Mary Maguire, director of public and legislative affairs at AAA Northeast. The average amount saved on a 5-mile trip, driving 65 mph on a 45 mph-posted road, is only 1.9 minutes.
“Speeding, red-light running, and cutting other drivers off can kill you, your passengers and others sharing the road,” Maguire said. “Driving aggressively isn’t worth the risk. When you get behind the wheel, be patient, be kind, and obey traffic laws so everyone gets home safely.”
The survey found that 37.8% of men and 29.3% of women followed the vehicle in front of them closely to prevent another car from merging.
More than 35% of men and 28% of women made rude gestures or honked at another driver, according to the survey, and just over 32.2% of men and 30% of women drove through a red light.
Another 31.5% of men and 21.4% of women surveyed drove aggressively by switching lanes quickly and/or very close behind another car.
Overall, younger male and female drivers tend to be more aggressive than older drivers, the survey found.
With everyday stress already compounded by the pandemic and now the holiday season, which can elevate tensions on the road, Maguire said, AAA urges motorists to keep their cool and avoid dangerous driving habits.
“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,” she said. “Aggressive drivers are likely not thinking about their potential impact on others until it is too late.”
Joseph Young, a spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, said that men are killed in crashes more often than women, both in raw numbers and per capita.
Each year from 1982 to 2018 — the most recent year for which the institute has statistics — speeding specifically was identified as a contributing factor for a greater proportion of male drivers killed in motor vehicle crashes than for female drivers killed in crashes, according to the IIHS.