carwow’s 2014 road rage survey has revealed that the vast majority of UK road users have been victims of road rage.
We surveyed 1,000 UK drivers at the end of 2014 to ask them whether they’ve been on the giving or receiving end of road rage, what forms of road rage they’ve experienced/given as well as how often.
The results show that an astonishing 81% of people have been victims of road rage. Of these, 54% have been shouted at and 42% have been verbally abused, whereas 48% have had people drive aggressively at them as a result of road rage.
The results also show that 4% of road users have had their cars damaged in some way as a result of road rage, and 5% have been physically attacked. We’ve also spoken to one road user whose life changed dramatically as a result of a road rage attack.
Our survey suggests that 21% of people have got out of their cars to confront people, and 7% say they confront road users who they feel have wronged them, while 41% of respondents say they get annoyed but don’t act on it.
Most road users (52%) rarely or never let road rage get the better of them, 30% do so once or twice per month and 5% reckon they rage at other road users every time they drive.
Why do we get road rage?
Far and away the biggest cause of road rage is poor driving – 57% of people surveyed get annoyed by bad driving, whereas 30% think that other road users are generally bad drivers and stupid.
A small proportion of those surveyed (5%) say their road rage affects their mood for the rest of the day – suggesting road rage affects people’s lives more than has previously been thought.
The underlying reasons for road rage are given as “other drivers are bad/poor drivers” (74%) “other drivers are slow and waste my time” (30%), and “they are rude to other road users” (24%), suggesting road rage has a cyclical effect.
Age makes a difference
We also asked respondents which age groups cause them the most road rage. A third of those questioned said 35-50-year-olds caused the most road rage, followed closely by 60+ year-olds (27%).
The survey showed a general sympathy for one particular group of road users: learner drivers. In fact, 65% of those asked said they don’t mind mistakes made by those with L plates because every driver has to learn at some point.
In terms of the most frustrating driving situations, city driving came top of the pile with 46% of respondents saying it causes them most frustration. This was followed by motorway journeys (26%) and dealing with cyclists (20%).
The human cost of road rage
The statistics support a general perception that UK road users are becoming more hostile towards each other.
We got in touch with 36-year-old David (who requested we didn’t use his surname), who, on a Wednesday evening in May 2013, was driving in Coulsdon, near Heathrow, when he was attacked as a result of road rage. He was at a point in the road where the traffic merges from two lanes into one.
“I was in the left lane and the traffic just filtered in to one lane one at a time, apart from Captain Road Rage. This chap felt he needed to to be that one place ahead of me, even though I’d taken up position behind the car in front.”
As David was concentrating on the car squeezing into the queue, his attention was diverted from the slowing traffic and he had to brake sharply, which annoyed the other car driver. “I was overly distracted due to being in a small car and having this big car squeeze in on me,” said David.
This driver was then blocked from merging by the flow of traffic and promptly jumped out of his car and started kicking David’s Renault Clio. David continued driving, changing his route to get away from his attacker.
“Unbeknown to me,” said David, “this wasn’t the end of our tiff.”
At the next set of red traffic lights, things escalated. “Suddenly my side window exploded in on me followed by three swift blows from a hammer. My reactions kicked in and I just went – I didn’t pass out but was very close.” Luckily for David, passers by in another car made David pull over and called the emergency services.
David has since had several rounds of surgery, which included inserting a Titanium plate into his cheek to help rebuild his face and operations to reduce the damage to his right eye.
Speaking to carwow 18 months after his attack, David explains just how big an impact another person’s road rage has had on his life.
“Over the past 18 months it’s been hard – especially before my last reconstructive surgery. I had quite an obvious sunken and lowered eye socket and with the best will in the world have been very self-conscious about my looks.
“One of the initial operations I had was to remove the lens from my eye – this was due to the damage to it and it was causing secondary issues such as high pressure in the eye. There is the possibility to re-attach an artificial lens but as of now I’m clinically blind in my right eye as a result of the attack.”
David’s attacked was never found because the CCTV cameras monitoring the junction were only set to record manually, and no one was watching the feed from the cameras at the time of the attack.
The attack has knocked his David’s confidence: “Every now and then, depending on the situation, I can get a little anxious, but I’m very fortunate to have a strong support circle around me.”
What started as a simple act of impatience by one road user has changed David’s life.
“I’d just remind people that sometimes one car’s length isn’t worth it. For me, that person trying to get 10ft ahead has technically cost me 18 months of my life. Whichever way you look at it, that isn’t a very good deal.”