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September/October 2016 Issue

AAA finds most motorists admit to road rage, from yelling to confrontations

Nearly 80 percent of drivers expressed significant anger and aggression behind the wheel at least once in the past year, including millions who engaged in dangerous examples of road rage, according to a new study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Released this summer, the study found that nearly two in three drivers believe that aggressive driving is a bigger problem today than three years ago, while nine out of 10 believe aggressive drivers are a serious threat to their personal safety. The most alarming finding, however, suggests that approximately 8 million U.S. drivers engaged in extreme examples of road rage, including ramming another vehicle or getting out of the car to confront another driver.

"Inconsiderate driving, bad traffic, and the daily stresses of life can transform minor frustrations into dangerous road rage," said Jurek Grabowski, director of research for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. "Far too many drivers are losing themselves in the heat of the moment and lashing out in ways that could turn deadly."

A significant number of U.S. drivers reported engaging in aggressive behaviors over the past year, according to the study's estimates:

  • Purposefully tailgating: 51 percent (104 million drivers)
  • Yelling at another driver: 47 percent (95 million drivers)
  • Honking to show annoyance or anger: 45 percent (91 million drivers)
  • Making angry gestures: 33 percent (67 million drivers)
  • Trying to block another car from changing lanes: 24 percent (49 million drivers)
  • Cutting off another vehicle on purpose: 12 percent (24 million drivers)
  • Getting out of the car to confront another driver: 4 percent (7.6 million drivers)
  • Bumping or ramming another vehicle on purpose: 3 percent (5.7 million drivers)

Aggressive driving and road rage varied considerably among drivers, with male and younger drivers from 19–39 significantly more likely to engage in aggressive behaviors.

AAA offers these tips to help prevent road rage:

  • Don't Offend: Never cause another driver to change their speed or direction. That means not forcing another driver to use their brakes or turn the steering wheel.
  • Be Tolerant and Forgiving: The other driver may just be having a really bad day. Assume that it's not personal.
  • Do Not Respond: Avoid eye contact, don't make gestures, maintain space around your vehicle, and contact 9-1-1 if needed.



Testing shows that not all gasoline is created equal

It turns out, your mother was right when she stressed the importance of cleanliness. New testing from AAA has found that gasoline brands that add engine-cleaning detergent beyond those mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency are more effective at limiting carbon deposits that are known to reduce fuel economy, increase emissions, and negatively impact vehicle performance, particularly on newer vehicles. The study focused on TOP TIERTM detergent gasoline compared with those that do not participate in the program.

Among brands tested in the study, non-TOP TIER gasolines caused 19 times more engine deposits than TOP TIER brands after just 4,000 miles of simulated driving.

Fuels that are part of the TOP TIER program must undergo testing to ensure the engine does not develop excessive carbon deposits on the intake valve, within the combustion chamber, or on the fuel injector that can affect emissions and drivability.

According to the program, only one-third of gas stations meet this elevated standard for fuel quality. To ensure a gas station sells high-quality gasoline, consumers should research the fuel options near them. A list of the TOP TIER brands and retailers can be found online at


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