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What makes us angry on the roads?

By LeaseCar, 23 Aug 2016

In the UK, road rage isn't uncommon. Other cars cut us up on roundabouts or drive dangerously on motorways and farm machinery dominates the country lanes (usually early in the morning when you’re already running a little late for work.)

But here at LeaseCar, we were interested in just what exactly makes road users so angry and decided to conduct a poll on the matter - featuring 1,200 drivers from all over the country.

Surprisingly, 84.8% of respondents claimed to have never been involved in a road rage incident – now, think back to your experience of driving, most of us have either been beeped at or experienced some form of aggression from other drivers (or have even been guilty of using the horn ourselves in frustration or anger.)

Interestingly, London did not rank the highest when it came to respondents who had experienced a road rage incident, with only 16% claiming to have witnessed road rage. In Belfast however, 38.9% of those taking part claimed to have experienced an incident followed by the second highest score in Norwich with 20.9%.

From those who responded yes, being sworn at and having someone beep their horn were the most common occurrences when involved in a road rage incident, closely followed by headlights being flashed and, more troublingly, being followed by another road user.

Now, before we go on, it's important to remind our readers that tailgating, beeping your horn, flashing headlights and threatening behaviour such as swearing are all in breach of the highway code and could therefore be prosecuted as an act of careless driving or driving without due care and attention.

However, our survey says 36.3% of respondents believe it is legal to use their horn to express anger on the road, while 17.8% think it's no problem to flash their headlights. Road users in Brighton are sensible though, with 64.4% confirming they believe there is nothing they can do to legally express their anger while driving.

So, just what is making people angry? Well, out of a generous list of 13 choices; cyclists, school run Mums, white van men, taxi drivers and farm machinery came in the top five of things that anger road users the most, closely followed by lorry drivers, caravans and motorcyclists.

Cyclists topped the list with 40.5% of drivers considering the two-wheeled road users to be the most infuriating, but troublingly those riding their bikes alongside car drivers are also 17 times more likely to be killed on the road than normal motorists. Overtaking when unsafe and getting too close, as well as simply not checking wing mirrors when turning, are the common causes of accidents involving cyclists. When these are near misses instead of accidents, road rage is witnessed on both sides.

We also asked those taking part which age group they considered to be the worst drivers – with the youngest and oldest age ranges in the spectrum the most popular choice. In fact, 37.9% of respondents believe 17 – 24 year olds are the worst at navigating the roads, 13.5% ticked over 75s and 9.2% opted for 25 – 34 year olds.

Surprisingly, many respondents believed that driving tests should be retaken after a certain amount of time and the 17-24-year-old respondents felt the most strongly about this, with 70.2% believing it should be compulsory for drivers to retake their tests. 38.1% of those taking part believe drivers should have to retake their test every 10 years and there are campaigns asking for those over the age of 70 to prove their competency on the road every three years.

However, official bodies believe there is no correlation between driving age and accidents on the road and if some of those over the age of 70 do stop driving it could impact their mobility and potentially lead to depression. So, before you angrily beep at an elderly driver again, who is perhaps going a little slow, think about all the good their independence does!

Age isn't necessarily a factor, but the majority of road rage incidents occur due to dangerous driving. We asked those taking part in our survey what they felt should be done about those who drive without care on the roads. 10.7% believe those guilty of dangerous driving should be banned immediately while on the other side of the coin, 12.6% believe the laws are too harsh.

Whatever makes you angry on the roads, it's important you don’t lose your cool. Refrain from acting threateningly and always drive with caution and consideration.

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