Road Rage and Aggressive Driving in the U.S: A Study

secure Editorial Standards

SmartFinancial Offers Unbiased, Fact-based Information. Our fact-checked articles are intended to educate insurance shoppers so they can make the right buying decisions. Learn More

SmartFinancial researched driving behavior and possible consequences and costs of road rage and aggressive driving.

According to various studies, big and small, on the topic, the vast majority of Americans have felt road rage, frustration or aggression while driving. The fact is that sometimes, another driver may make very bad decisions while behind the wheel. However, road rage never ends well and can cost you money, for quite a long time even.

Nearly every person who’s been driving for even a month or two will have watched someone behave aggressively while driving. Road rage is something nearly every driver in every state will witness multiple times in their lifetime. The highest rates of road rage, however, are exhibited by young males, age 19 and younger.

Aggressive driving caused 56% fatal car crashes from 2003-2007 and 66% in 2020, according to the NHTSA. Speeding was the #1 cause of crashes and result of aggressive driving. Even more staggering, 33% of those involved in aggressive driving incidents had a firearm.

See what road rage is, what it costs, and how to deal with it when confronted by an aggressive driver.

What Is Road Rage?

Road rage is an incident in which a driver commits moving traffic driving offenses for a variety of reasons and thereby endangers other persons or property. Road rage can lead to an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger of one motor vehicle on the operator or passengers of another motor vehicle.

Examples of Road Rage and Aggressive Driving

  • Confrontation
  • Flashing
  • Throwing objects at the other car
  • Tailgating
  • Excessive honking
  • Flashing headlights
  • Cutting off a driver
  • Sideswiping a vehicle
  • Yelling and name-calling
  • Gesticulating
  • Speeding
  • Weaving between lanes
  • Running someone off the road

Road rage is when a driver commits moving traffic driving offenses and endangers other persons or property.

Consequences of Road Rage and Aggressive Driving

  • Arrests
  • Car accidents
  • Fines
  • Jail or prison time
  • Physical assault
  • Murder
  • Hitting a pedestrian
  • Hitting an animal
  • Harming or killing other drivers and passengers on the road
Find Affordable Car Insurance for High-Risk Drivers

Causes of Road Rage and Aggressive Driving

  1. Tailgating is the #1 cause of road rage.
  2. Roughly 33% of drivers become impatient while waiting at stoplights and for parking spaces.
  3. Running late for work, school or an appointment can trigger impatience and road rage.
  4. Learning driving skills and behavior from another aggressive driver is another cause of road rage.
  5. Rudeness from other driver(s) can trigger road rage.
  6. A sense of anonymity behind the wheel can give drivers the sense that they can do whatever they want.
  7. Distracted driving can trigger road rage and an impulse to weave in front of that car.
  8. Getting cut off suddenly by another car (sometimes not so suddenly) can trigger road rage.
  9. When a driver is driving too slowly, especially in the fast lane, it can trigger aggressive behavior and attempts to pass the driver in a reckless manner.
  10. Drivers can become angry when the driver in front of them doesn’t signal before turning.

Reckless driving can drive up insurance rates by an average of 90%.

8 ways you may be inciting road rage infographic

Lowering Rates After a Reckless Driving Charge or Speeding Charge

Reckless driving can drive up insurance rates by an average of 90%, which is almost double your current premium. You have two choices about lowering your rate drastically: You can hire an attorney to lower your charge or you can take driver safety classes to lower your rate. You may want to do both for maximum benefits.

There are other ways of lowering your rate, which are more drastic, like using a telematics program that uses a device or app to track your driving behavior. It’s unwise to opt for this option and continue driving recklessly because your rates will skyrocket!

You can also drive a safer, cheaper car while improving your credit score if it’s not very high.

Comparing rates, however, is the fastest and easiest way to see a dramatic decrease in car insurance costs. You’ll want to gather all the quotes on or around the same day because rates change daily, like airplane ticket prices.

Road Rage and Aggressive Driving FAQs

What’s the difference between road rage and aggressive driving?

Road rage is actually the same thing as aggressive driving or can lead to aggressive driving behavior and moving-traffic violations. Usually a driver becomes angry or frustrated, which is road rage, and then acts out by driving aggressively. Over 80% of American drivers admit to feeling road rage. Not all act out.

What should I do if I’m the victim of road rage and I’m being followed?

Stay calm and try to pull over to a safe spot if the other driver is creating an unsafe driving situation. Lock your doors and call the authorities, especially if you think you’re in danger. Snap a photo of the license plate if you can. If the other driver pulls over too, don’t argue. Don’t make eye contact. Just wait for the police.

What happens if you’re charged with reckless driving due to road rage?

The penalty differs in each state. In California, It's a misdemeanor offense that may result in fines up to $1000 and up to 90 days in jail.

Whether you’ve been charged after a road rage incident or not, your rates may have gone up dramatically, especially if you’ve been ticketed or have had an accident. All types of drivers save money when they compare several car insurers at once. Each company rates each driver differently, so you may be able to get a policy that is much cheaper. To get started on receiving FREE car insurance quotes, just enter your zip code below and answer a set of questions. Soon you’ll see what you should be paying for insurance.


  1. SmartFinancial’s internal quoting data, accessed February 9, 2023.
  2. American Psychological Association. Road rage: What makes some people more prone to anger behind the wheel, accessed January 15, 2023.
  3. Insurance Information Institute. Facts + Statistics: Aggressive driving, accessed January 30, 2023.

Get a Free Auto Insurance Quote Online Now.