Drivers see red behind wheel

Half of drivers surveyed by YouGov for the Admiral Survey of UK Motorists admitted to experiencing r

Half of drivers surveyed by YouGov for the Admiral Survey of UK Motorists admitted to experiencing road rage. - Credit: Eastern Counties Newspapers

Anger and aggression are prevalent on the UK’s roads with offensive gestures, full-blown arguments and even threats of physical violence commonplace, according to new research released by car insurance specialist Admiral, which reveals what most makes the country’s motorists tick.

Of the 3,120 drivers questioned by YouGov for the Admiral Survey of UK Motorists 48% admitted to experiencing road rage, with 32% of these saying they get it more than once a week. And 21% who suffer from road rage have had a full-blown argument with another motorist because of it.

Worryingly, an alarming amount of the drivers questioned said their behaviour took a more serious turn:

36% admitted experiencing road rage makes them drive more aggressively.

8% said they had even followed another driver as a result.

9% of all those surveyed said they had been threatened with physical violence in a road rage incident.

But what actions cause road rage?

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Being cut up by drivers (67%), drivers not indicating (65%) and the general rudeness of other drivers (61%) make motorists see the red mist. People’s impatience also comes through, with motorists who drive too slowly (43%) coming out as more likely to lead to road rage than those who drive too fast (30%).

Admiral spokesman James Carnduff said: “It’s bad enough letting yourself be annoyed by other road-users, but following them or, even worse, reverting to violence is ridiculous. You have to ask yourself is it worth getting that upset at other road-users? Will getting angry achieve anything other than raising your blood pressure and negatively impacting your driving?”

The survey also found that, while those who experience road rage is evenly split between men and women, men are more likely to drive aggressively, have arguments, follow drivers and make offensive gestures.

Commenting on the survey’s findings, Kevin Clinton, Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents head of road safety, said: “Safe driving requires concentration, observation and anticipation as well as a responsible attitude to other road-users. This is often easier said than done, as our driving can be affected by our mood, our reaction to the behaviour of other people and frustration caused by traffic delays.

“Unfortunately, this can result in some drivers getting angry and stressed and taking this out on other people by tailgating, exceeding speed limits, undertaking and generally driving aggressively. This sort of driving increases the chances of the angry driver causing an accident, which in the worst cases, can mean people losing their lives.”

Transport psychologist and behavioural expert Dr Peter Marsh was asked to explore what motorists can do to combat feelings of road rage. His three top tips are as follows:

1 The start of the remedy is to understand the reasons why we get angrier in cars than elsewhere. These are:

It’s a kind of personal territory that, as humans, we are programmed to defend as it’s our ‘home turf’.

The car provides us with opportunities for a sense of mastery and self-control, so when this is impacted upon by other drivers, frustration can arise as it’s one of the few opportunities to feel that we are in charge.

The car provides a sense of protection from the outside world, so aggressive gestures can easily be conveyed to others before we make our escape inside our ‘steel box’.

2 Open the car windows – this reduces the sense of invulnerability you might have.

3 Regain a sense of mastery and control by ‘rising above it all’ because you have a better understanding of why your mood is changing – adopt a Zen-like pose of smug serenity and superiority.

For the full survey visit