John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.
The region’s motorists are more prone to screaming, honking, and throwing out rude gestures, according to a new survey.
"Get off the road, jackass!"
In the U.S., you’re most likely to hear something like this—perhaps embellished with a horn blast or middle finger—if you’re in the Northeast. That’s according to a survey from the nonprofit AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety finding that motorists “living in the Northeast were significantly more likely to yell, honk, or gesture angrily than people living in other parts of the country.”
To quantify the Northeast’s four-wheeled fury, drivers there are “nearly 30 percent more likely” to gesticulate in outrage than drivers elsewhere in the country, says the AAA. But that’s not the only fascinating nugget in the survey, which questioned 2,705 people 16 or older. Nationally, a huge number of motorists seem one unsignaled lane change or slow car in the fast lane away from explosive acts.
Roughly two-thirds of those sampled said they thought aggressive driving was worse now than three years ago, and nine out of 10 consider aggressive motorists a “serious threat to their personal safety.” That’s not hard to believe when, as the AAA found, a stunning 8 million drivers reported engaging in extreme road rage in the past year. That could mean lunging out of their seats to accost another driver, or actually ramming their cars into other vehicles. Here’s more from a press release:
A significant number of U.S. drivers reported engaging in angry and aggressive behaviors over the past year, according to the study's estimates:
• Purposefully tailgating: 51 percent (104 million drivers)
• Yelling at another driver: 47 percent (95 million drivers)
• Honking to show annoyance or anger: 45 percent (91 million drivers)
• Making angry gestures: 33 percent (67 million drivers)
• Trying to block another vehicle from changing lanes: 24 percent (49 million drivers)
• Cutting off another vehicle on purpose: 12 percent (24 million drivers)
• Getting out of the vehicle to confront another driver: 4 percent (7.6 million drivers)
• Bumping or ramming another vehicle on purpose: 3 percent (5.7 million drivers)
Interestingly, there appears to be a correlation with the way people drive and how likely they are to get seriously pissed-off. People who admitted to speeding on highways, for instance, were four times more prone to intentionally cutting off other vehicles. For more details, dig into the full AAA survey.