UK Road Rage Report

Almost two in three (62%) drivers experience road rage, with almost one in three (30%) reporting they had experienced a face-to-face confrontation with another driver. 

Our research reveals the nation’s road rage hotspots, the most common sources of driver frustration and tips to help reduce anger while driving.

The most common sources of road rage

The most common cause of road rage for drivers is being tailgated (35%), followed by slow driving (29%), witnessing other drivers talking on the phone (29%) and lack of indication (29%).

Somewhat surprisingly, being on the road at the same time as learner drivers was the least common source of anger among drivers. 

The top four regions that find slow driving the greatest source of road rage are Belfast, Brighton, Bristol, and Cardiff. Whereas a lack of indication particularly angers drivers from Leeds. Mancunians are aggravated the most by witnessing other drivers on their phones. 

Belfast is named the place with the most road rage

With almost three quarters (71%) experiencing anger whilst driving, Belfast is ranked as the place with the highest road rage, followed by Sheffield (68%) , Birmingham and Nottingham (66%). 

Newcastle and Edinburgh have the lowest rates with only around half of all drivers experiencing road rage. 

The locations where drivers experience the most road rage

Town centres generate the most frustration among drivers with 21% of road users agreeing this is where they experience it the most frequently. Congested city traffic (18%) and motorways (15%) follow closely behind.

How do drivers express their road rage?

We asked drivers how they are most likely to react when experiencing road rage, with beeping their horn (44%) and shouting from inside their cars (40%) the most common responses. 

However, some drivers were found to be more aggressive than others, with almost one in ten saying they would leave their vehicle to confront another road user and worryingly 6% admitting they would damage another driver’s vehicle. 

The psychology behind why we experience road rage

Neuro-linguistic expert Rebecca Lockwood offers some insight into why our emotions are heightened when we are behind the wheel. 

“Our road rage tendencies are partly down to our experiences while watching others drive which can have a great impact on how we perceive what is normal while driving. For those who have grown up watching a parent express road rage, it can be common for us to inhabit these behaviours as we grow older.”

“Road rage is often intensified by external factors we experience in our day-to-day lives. While experiencing stress in other areas of your life it’s common for them to burst out in other situations.”

Asked why being in a car can amplify frustration, Rebecca says, “When we are experiencing road rage in the car, it’s much easier to forget that the other cars hold real people. It dissociates someone from the situation and creates a barrier between the person and the car.”

Three in four UK drivers believe road rage should be recognised as an offence in UK law

Currently, the act of road rage itself is not a recognised offence in UK law, yet 75% of drivers would like to see it introduced as a legal offence. 

National differences in opinion showed that drivers in Wales agreed the most that road rage should become an offence (82%), followed by Scotland (79%) and England (74%), whereas only 59% of drivers in Northern Ireland were in agreement. 

Although road rage itself is not an offence in UK law currently, you can be fined for displaying road rage behaviours as set out below: 

Road rage behaviour Percentage of UK drivers who admitted to commonly displaying this behaviour
Unnecessarily beeping your horn 44%
Making a hand gesture^^ 25%
Tailgating 8%

^^Based on a harassment in public offence

Expert tips on how to de-escalate anger while driving

1. Maintain concentration 

Glaring lights, radios, and passengers can all be extremely distracting. Giving the road your complete attention will avoid sudden surprises enabling you to be more vigilant of other drivers, increasing your reaction time. 

2. Make sure you’re well-rested 

After a stressful day at work or many miles into a long-distance drive, tiredness can often take over. When a driver is tired, they are much more susceptible to irritability and distraction, if you’re feeling this way it’s important to take a break from driving. 

3. Take a moment before you react 

Often, we can find ourselves in situations where we are unaware of how tense we are and taking a moment to step back from the situation will give you time to reflect on whether a certain response is warranted. 

4. Be forgiving and learn to let go 

No driver is perfect, and it can become easy to judge someone’s driving ability based on a brief interaction, but being forgiving towards other road users and letting go of frustrations is important. 

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