Aggressive Driving Behind the Wheel: Study Shows Four in Five Drivers are Negatively Impacted by Others' Driving Behaviors
SEATTLE--May 15, 2014: As Americans hit the road for the upcoming summer travel season, traffic will be heavy, tempers may be short and aggressive driving can become inevitable as a new U.S. driving survey from Safeco Insurance reveals. While only 36 percent of respondents admitted to their own driving as aggressive, 85 percent describe others' driving as aggressive with 82 percent reporting they experience negative feelings because of how others drive.
While these statistics may not paint the nicest picture of U.S. driving behaviors, the good news is that 72 percent of those surveyed said they'd be willing to make at least one change to their own behavior to make driving a more pleasant experience for others on the road. To answer that call, Safeco is launching "Drive It Forward Fridays" (#DIFF) to encourage positive driving actions to counter negative driving behavior that can often jeopardize safety.
"Small gestures can further driver safety and also propel the recipients of that goodwill to pass it on to other drivers," said Eric Trott, vice president of Marketing at Safeco Insurance. "By encouraging drivers to be more conscious of those around them, Safeco hopes to raise awareness of the types of behavior that can make a difference on the roadways."
Starting next week, just in time for the summer travel season, Safeco will ask drivers to participate in "Drive It Forward Fridays." To take part in the movement, drivers can visit www.safeco.com/diff or use the hashtag #DIFF to pledge to be a more courteous driver and share their positive driving actions.
What actions did survey respondents say, if stopped, would help make driving more pleasant?
Cutting off other drivers (59 percent) Using high beams toward oncoming traffic (57 percent) Tailgating (56 percent)
Additional findings from the study reveal a complete lack of road manners in surprising situations. More than one-third (37 percent) of those surveyed have watched other drivers cut a funeral line; more than half (54 percent) have seen able-bodied drivers take handicap spots; and 42 percent report seeing other drivers cut off a school bus.
The survey also highlighted regional differences showing who owns up to bad behavior:
Bostonians rank #1 among the drivers surveyed who admit to being aggressive behind the wheel (46 percent) followed by New York and Los Angeles both at 38 percent. Denver drivers rank lowest in reporting their own aggressive driving (26 percent). Overall, Minneapolis and Seattle drivers report less frequent negative behaviors for themselves and others.
"People's emotions and anxieties often will play out on our roads and highways, putting us all in tense, high-stress driving conditions that can be dangerous," said Jonathan Alpert, a Manhattan-based psychotherapist and author of the book "Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days" who has written about road rage. "A movement such as 'Drive it Forward Fridays' is not only good for society, but it's good for your mental health. Simple positive acts can have a huge impact on how you feel by activating the reward center in the brain— meaning it really can make you feel good."
Alpert also offers the following tips to Drive it Forward and move beyond aggressive driving with positive driving actions:
Know the characteristics of an aggressive driver: Cutting off drivers, tailgating, unnecessary or excessive horn use, rapid lane changes and speeding. If this is you, stop. If not, stand clear. Encourage good behavior by being friendly and courteous on the road. Give up a parking spot, or when it is safe to do so, allow other drivers to move into your lane. Just be cautious as other drivers around you may not realize what you are doing. Being nice, but safe, reinforces similar behavior in others. Normalize the undesirable. Traffic, slow drivers and fast ones are all to be expected and are a normal part of being on the road in the driving community. Accept it. Consider leaving five minutes early to get to your destination as you'll be more tolerant when you're not running late. Don't personalize other people's behavior. Just because a driver cut you off doesn't mean they meant to or did it to enrage you. Consider other explanations such as the driver is en route to an emergency; there's a crisis a parent is trying to get to at home; or simply, the driver didn't see you.
About the Study Safeco Insurance commissioned ORC International to conduct a quantitative methodology to measure driving etiquette in ten geographies across the United States in April 2014. The study included a survey of 2,006 drivers aged 18+ in Boston, New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Minneapolis, Seattle, Los Angeles, Denver, Dallas, and Atlanta. Overall the findings from the study can be interpreted at a 95 percent confidence interval with an error margin of +/- 1.96 percent. Error margins for subsets such as by market will be wider.