What are the Most Common Kinds of Road Rage Incidents in the UK?
The inventors of the automobile couldn’t possibly have anticipated some of the stranger psychological implications of sitting behind the wheel. Restrained from face-to-face contact with our fellow motorists, we’re more likely to fly off the handle when one of them commits an error, or behaves discourteously. In some rare cases, incensed motorists actually take action – and the results can be scary!
What do the statistics say?
A freedom of information request in late 2020 revealed an ongoing rise in reported road-rage related crimes, with a 34% increase in offences from 2017 to 2019. This includes data from just twenty-four out of forty-six forces, so the actual figure is likely to be much higher than the 3,549 crimes reported in 2019. We should bear in mind, however, that self-reporting is a notoriously flawed means to measuring crime over time – since rates of reporting can vary.
What are people’s experiences?
Polling conducted by car tyre specialist, Tyre Shopper, reveals that the average driver ‘sees red’ around three times a year. Of the 80% of respondents who claimed to have been victim to a road-rage incident, just 6% reported it to the police.
As you might expect, the busier sections of road were more likely to see road rage incidents, with junctions being hotbeds of anger. Conversely, just one in ten respondents reported having experienced road rage on country roads.
Men were more likely to perpetrate road-rage related dangerous driving, while women were more likely to be victims of it. The gender imbalance is, in fact, 4:1 in favour of male offenders, with 37 being the average age.
In most cases, incidents were limited to rude gestures (more than 70%), verbal abuse (just under 60%) and horn-honking (over 60%). Obviously, there’s a little bit of a grey area here; what one person characterises as road rage might be judged by another to be a proportionate reaction. In a minority of cases, however, there can be little doubt. 25% claimed to have been followed by a vehicle, while 10% claimed to have been confronted in person by a driver.
Particularly vulnerable to road-rage incidents are cyclists, especially those travelling in areas where there aren’t any dedicated cycle lanes. Being forced to share a space with vehicles which could easily knock them over and cause injury, the experience of road rage can be far more intimidating than it once was.