LONDON — A speeding car can be a deadly weapon all by itself, but a new survey finds many Americans make sure they’re armed when they get behind the wheel.
A poll of 1,000 U.S. residents, commissioned by Circuit Route Planner, finds that a staggering 65 percent of drivers keep a weapon in their vehicle in case they need to defend themselves during a road rage incident. The most common weapon drivers keep hidden is a knife (50%), followed by pepper spray (45%). However, 40 percent admit that they carry a gun with them while on the road.
Other weapons American drivers have on hand include tire irons (39%), baseball bats (38%), hockey sticks (31%), tasers (31%), and lacrosse sticks (14%).
As for which cars you may want to stay away from if things get heated on the road, the poll finds BMW, Hyundai, and Mercedes drivers are the most likely to keep a dangerous weapon in their car. Incidentally, researchers report that road rage shooting reached a record-high in 2021.
Concerningly, it doesn’t seem to matter where Americans drive, local residents believe the anger building up on roadways is the worst where they live. While 39 percent of urban drivers believe road rage is worse where they live than anywhere else in the country, 53 percent still think urban drivers are just as prone to road rage. More than half of rural (54%), small town (58%), and suburban (67%) think road rage is just as bad where they live as everywhere else — including cities.
Who are the biggest road rage culprits?
Whether it’s true or not, men have the worst reputation when it comes to angry behavior on the road. Half the poll think men are the most prone to road rage incidents, with younger drivers following as a close second (42%). People who own sports cars (35%), women (31%), and older drivers (28%) also get a bad rap for being overly aggressive drivers.
Interestingly, women appear to be the most critical of female drivers. In fact, women respondents were 71 percent more likely than men to accuse other women of succumbing to road rage.
So, what do we mean when we’re talking about “road rage”? These actions include everything from speeding (which 40% of respondents admit they do), honking (28%), braking suddenly or “brake checking” another driver (26%), giving angry hand gestures (24%), and yelling (23%).
However, things can get out of control quickly, leading some drivers to chase or race other cars (20%), cut off vehicles on purpose (16%), tailgate (16%), and even point a weapon at a fellow driver (4%).
The road rage capital is in… Oregon?
While busy streets and bumper-to-bumper traffic would seem to make major cities the perfect place for road rage, the survey found that America’s road rage “capital” is actually Eugene, Oregon!
Using data from Twitter, the poll found that for every 100,000 people, 500 #roadrage tweets came from this Pacific Northwest town. That’s over 100 more than the next closest location — Atlanta, Georgia. Interestingly, famously congested areas like New York and Los Angeles didn’t even make the top 20 cities for road rage.
Since road rage can easily lead to accidents, injuries, and even fatalities, researchers say it’s critical that drivers learn to keep a cool head. Here are a few tips from AAA for handling potential road rage incidents while driving:
- Maintain a safe following distance
- Only honk when necessary
- Don’t cause others to change their speed or direction
- Be kind (imagine the person who just pulled out in front of you lost their job today)
- Don’t engage with angry motorists
Circuit Route Planner surveyed 1,000 Americans about their perceptions of road rage and their own driving behaviors. This data was combined with a Twitter scrape of #roadrage and analyzed by the location of each tweet. All data are per 100,000 residents in the top 150 cities by population in the U.S.