August 27, 2004

Drivers most aggravated by other drivers: poll

Tallahasee, FL – According to a recent poll, American drivers are becoming more aggravated every year and the source of this aggravation is not just bad roads, traffic delays and personal worries. The top culprit is many of the other drivers on the road.

Forty percent of drivers describe driving as “aggravating” and “more aggravating than two years ago,” according to the poll conducted for Drive for Life, a driver safety awareness initiative of AAA, Volvo Cars of North America, Partners for Highway Safety, the National Association of Police Organizations and the National Sheriffs’ Association.

Both men and women agreed other drivers are the prime source of their aggravation, but the behaviors that set them off divide the genders: Men complain of drivers who talk on cell phones and drive while distracted, while women are more bothered by aggressive behaviors like speeding and tailgating.

Despite the fact that safety experts say children should ride in the back seat until at least age 12, 51 percent of parents polled allow children 10 and younger to ride up front, 40 percent allow children eight and younger to ride in the front, and 24 percent even allow five and six year olds to ride in the front seat. That’s a serious problem because one in three children killed in
motor vehicle crashes were in the front seat. The US Centers for Disease Control estimates that requiring children to ride in the back seat reduces injuries by 45 percent in cars with front passenger seat airbags and 30 percent in cars with no front airbags.

One in four men admitted to driving angry, compared to one in five women. All that anger takes a toll: 18 percent of Americans polled said aggressive drivers pose the biggest threat on the road, second only to drunk drivers. Another alarming finding is that 37 percent of teenage drivers, ages 16-20 admit to driving while emotionally upset — more than twice the rate for non-

The all-around angriest, most aggravated, most dangerous age group on the road? Some would guess it is the youngest or oldest drivers, but they’d be wrong. It’s the early twenty-somethings who are most likely to describe themselves as fast and aggressive drivers, least likely to wear a seat belt or require a passenger to wear one, and most likely to have received a traffic ticket within the past two years.

“The behaviors that put drivers at the greatest risk are the same ones that are likely to become habit-forming,” said Bill Van Tassel, PhD, AAA National Manager of Driver Training Operations. “This initiative is taking an honest look at your daily driving behavior and making changes that could ultimately help you prevent or survive a crash.”

In other gender divides, the poll also found that men are more than twice as likely as women to admit to driving without using a seat belt and that men also were much more likely to drive after drinking.

Besides conducting an annual poll of driver behaviors and attitudes, Drive for Life educates through an interactive web site,, and a special, 30-minute television broadcast, The National Safe Driving Test, to air Labor Day weekend, Saturday, Sept. 4, at 7 p.m. EDT on the PAX-TV Network. The full poll results and additional driver safety information are available on the web site.

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