Disclaimer: Data on this website is the latest available from the named sources in this article and was obtained in September 2020. Auto & General Services Pty Ltd does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the data and accepts no liability whatsoever arising from or connected in any way to the use or reliance upon this data.

Drivers’ anger is typically triggered by other road users’ actions they perceive to be discourteous, frustrating or dangerous.

And drivers’ reactions range in intensity, from ignoring the other driver to getting out of their vehicle and having a physical fight.

While we sometimes see graphic news footage of some of the more shocking cases, the true nature and extent of road-rage in Australia is less clear.

To help shed some more light on the issue, we surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,032 Australians aged 18 years and older who are licensed drivers and use a car frequently.

We found that 97% of motorists drive in heavy traffic at some point, with 30% (4.9 million) frequently doing so, indicating that many will experience the stress of traffic congestion and travel delays.

Here’s what they told us about their experiences — as perpetrators and/or victims — of aggressive driving and road rage:

Have you ever been involved in a road-rage incident?

Key findings:

  • More than one in four (28%) Australians who drive on a regular basis — 4.6 million people — report having been involved in a road-rage incident as either the offender or the victim in the past.
  • With more years of driving under their belts, Gen X (33%) and Baby Boomer (29%) drivers are more likely than Gen Z (18%) drivers to have been involved in a road-rage incident in the past.
  • Unsurprisingly, those who describe themselves as aggressive or somewhat aggressive drivers are twice as likely to be involved in a road-rage incident as those who consider themselves to be not at all aggressive (52% compared to 23%).
  • Those who usually drive on weekday nights between 7pm and 11.59pm (37%) are more likely than those who usually drive on weekdays in the early mornings (26%) and during morning peak (29%) to have been involved in a road-rage incident in the past.

During the past 12 months when driving, how often has someone in another vehicle been aggressive towards you?

Key findings:

  • During the past 12 months, nearly two-thirds (65%) of Australian drivers say other road users have shouted at, cursed or made rude gestures at them or others with them. Almost one in 10 (8%) say it occurred all the time or frequently.
  • It’s worth noting that the above figure of 65% is considerably higher than the proportion of drivers who report having been involved in a road-rage incident at any time in the past as either the offender or victim (28%). This suggests many drivers do not consider shouting, cursing or rude gestures to be forms of ‘road rage’.
  • More than one in three (36%) Aussie drivers report a cyclist showing aggression towards them or others with them. Seven per cent say it occurred all the time or frequently.
  • More than one in five Aussie drivers say another road user has intentionally hurt of threatened to hurt them or others with them (23%) or intentionally damaged or attempted to damage the vehicle they were in (21%).
Another road user has… Occurred in the past 12 months Occurred always/frequently
Shouted, cursed or made rude gestures at me 65% 8%
Intentionally hurt or threatened to hurt me or others with me 23% 6%
Intentionally damaged or attempted to damage the vehicle I was in 21% 5%
A cyclist showed aggression towards me or others with me 36% 7%
  • Male drivers are more likely than female drivers to have been subjected to aggression by another road user, including someone in another vehicle:
    • shouting, cursing or making rude gestures at them or others with them (70% of men compared to 61% of women)
    • intentionally hurting or threatening to hurt them (27% compared to 18%) 
    • intentionally damaging or attempting to damage the vehicle they were in (25% compared to 17%)
    • a cyclist showing aggression towards them or others with them (43% compared to 29%). 
  • Millennial drivers (33%) are more likely than their older counterparts — Gen X (24%), Baby Boomers (10%) and Silent (3%) — to have had another road user intentionally damage or attempt to damage the vehicle they were in. 
  • Drivers living in the five biggest capital cities are more likely than those living outside of these capitals to have reported having had another road user:
    • shout, curse or make rude gestures at them or others with them (68% in the capitals compared to 60% outside the capitals)
    • intentionally hurt or threat to hurt them (26% compared to 17%) 
    • intentionally damage or attempt to damage the vehicle they were in (25% compared to 14%)
    • a cyclist showing aggression towards them or others with them (40% compared to 29%).

During the past 12 months when driving, how often have you been aggressive towards another road user?

Key findings:

  • During the past 12 months, more than four in ten (45%) Australian drivers admit to shouting at, cursing or making rude gestures at another road user while driving. Seven per cent say they do it all the time or frequently.
  • It’s worth noting that the above figure of 45% is higher than the proportion of drivers who report having been involved in a road-rage incident at any time in the past as either the offender or victim (28%). This suggests many drivers do not consider shouting, cursing or rude gestures to be forms of ‘road rage’.
  • More than one in five (22%) Aussie drivers report having shown aggression towards a cyclist.
  • More than one in ten Aussie drivers report having intentionally hurt or threatened to hurt another road user (12%) or intentionally damaged or attempted to damage another vehicle (12%).
When driving I have… Occurred in the past 12 months Occurred always/frequently
Shouted, cursed or made rude gestures at another road user 45% 7%
Intentionally hurt or threatened to hurt another road user 12% 4%
Intentionally damaged or attempted to damage another vehicle 12% 4%
Shown aggression towards a cyclist 22% 6%
  • As well as having been on the receiving end more often, male drivers are more likely than female drivers to have been aggressive towards another road user, including:
    • shouting, cursing or making rude gestures towards them (51% of men compared to 39% of women)
    • intentionally hurting or threatening to hurt them (15% compared to 9%)  
    • intentionally damaging or attempting to damage another vehicle (14% compared to 9%)
    • showing aggression towards a cyclist (25% compared to 18%).
  • Millennial drivers are more likely than their older counterparts to have intentionally damaged or attempted to damage another vehicle (21% compared to Gen X 12%, Baby Boomers 4%, and Silent 0%) and intentionally hurt or threatened to hurt another road user (21% compared to Gen X 13%, Baby Boomers 4%, and Silent 1%).
  • As well as having been on the receiving end more often, drivers living in the five biggest capital cities are more likely than those living outside of these capitals to have intentionally hurt or threatened to hurt another road user (15% compared to 7%) or intentionally damaged or attempted to damage another vehicle  (15% compared to 7%).

How often do you get angry in different driving situations?

Key findings:

  • Potentially dangerous behaviour by other road users (93%) and rudeness or discourtesy from other road users (93%) are the situations most likely to have angered Australian drivers. These are followed by travel delays (90%) and direct aggression from other road users (86%).
  • One in three (33%) Aussie drivers report they always or frequently get angry at potentially dangerous behaviour by other road users, while 24% and 18% respectively say they always or frequently get angry at rudeness/discourtesy or direct aggression from other road users.
Driving situations Get angry Always/frequently
Potentially dangerous behaviour by other road users (e.g. cutting in front, forcing me to brake) 93% 33%
Rudeness or discourtesy from other road users (e.g. failing to indicate, not giving a ‘thank you’ wave) 93% 24%
Travel delays 90% 19%
Direct aggression from other road users (e.g. shouting, rude gestures) 86% 18%
  • Not only are Millennials more likely than their older counterparts to be always or frequently driving in heavy traffic, they’re also more likely to report always or frequently getting angry because of:
    • potentially dangerous behaviour by other road users (44% compared to Gen X 32%, Baby Boomers 26%, and Silent 16%)
    • travel delays (30% compared to Gen X 19%, Baby Boomers 9%, and Silent 4%) 
    • direct aggression from other road users (28% compared to Gen X 18%, Baby Boomers 10%, and Silent 8%). 
  • Drivers living in different states get set off by different things, for example:
    • those in Queensland (39%) are more likely than those in South Australia (24%) to report always or frequently getting angry due to potentially dangerous behaviour by other road users
    • those in NSW (28%) are more likely than those in Victoria (21%) to report always or frequently getting angry due to rudeness or discourtesy from other road users.

How do you usually express your frustration and anger towards other road users?

Key findings:

  • Roughly four in ten (43%) Australian drivers say they do not express any anger or frustration towards other road users and prefer to just ignore them.
  • One in two drivers (50%) tend to mutter under their breath and more than one in three (36%) beep their car’s horn. Sixteen per cent tend to make/pull a face and 16% yell, swear or call other road users names aloud.
  • More than one in ten (13%) — the equivalent of 2.2 million drivers — tend to take it to another level, including making rude or threatening gestures (9%), driving aggressively (4%), nudging the other vehicle in front of theirs (2%), getting out of the vehicle and telling the other person off (2%) or getting out of the vehicle and having a physical fight (2%).
  • Female drivers are more likely than male drivers to mutter under their breath (53% compared to 46%) and make/pull a face (19% compared to 14%), while men are more likely than women to make rude or threatening gestures (11% compared to 6%) and drive aggressively (6% compared to 2%).
  • Baby Boomers (56%) are more likely than Gen Z (43%) and Millennials (45%) to mutter under their breath, while Gen X (42%) are more likely than Gen Z (29%) and Baby Boomers (32%) to beep their vehicle’s horn.
  • Millennials (22%) and Gen X (21%) are more than twice as likely as Baby Boomers (10%) to yell, swear or call names, and 6% of Millennials admit to getting out of their vehicle and telling off other road users.
  • Unsurprisingly, drivers who profess to be not at all aggressive are more likely to choose to ignore other road users than drivers who describe themselves as somewhat or very aggressive (46% compared to 31%). These self-described aggressive drivers are more likely than their more passive counterparts to take it to another level by making rude or threatening gestures, driving aggressively, nudging the other vehicle with theirs, getting out of the vehicle and telling them off, and/or getting out of the vehicle and having a physical fight (41% compared to 7%).

How aggressive are you while driving?

Key findings:

  • About eight in ten (82%) Australian drivers say they are not at all aggressive while driving. Sixteen per cent admit to being a somewhat aggressive driver and 2% admit to being very aggressive.
  • While nearly two in ten (18%) Australians concede they’re a somewhat or very aggressive driver, more than four in ten (45%) admit to shouting at, cursing or making rude gestures at another road user while driving in the past 12 months. This suggests there’s a disconnect between the way some drivers perceive themselves and their actual behaviour. That they see other drivers as the problem.
  • Men are more likely than women to admit to being a somewhat or very aggressive driver (22% compared to 14%).
  • Millennials (25%) are more likely than Gen X (17%) and Baby Boomers (12%) to admit to being a somewhat or very aggressive driver.
  • Drivers living in NSW (23%) are more likely than those living in Victoria (15%) to admit to being a somewhat or very aggressive driver.

If you could, would you change your travel time and/or route to reduce the likelihood of a road-rage incident?

Key findings:

  • Roughly four in ten (43%) Australian drivers say they would change their travel time and/or route to reduce the likelihood of being involved in a road-rage incident, including one in five (20%) who have already done so.
  • Millennial (50%) and Gen X (46%) drivers are more likely than their older counterparts (Baby Boomers 37%, and Silent 28%) to say they would change their route and/or travel time to reduce the likelihood of being involved in a road-rage incident.
  • Encouragingly, those who describe themselves as aggressive or somewhat aggressive drivers are more likely than those who profess to be not at all aggressive to have already changed their route and/or travel time to reduce the likelihood of being involved in a road-rage incident (36% compared to 17%).
  • Those who reported having been involved in a road-rage incident (as either the perpetrator or the victim) are more likely than those who have not to have already changed their travel time and/or route to reduce the likelihood of being involved in a road-rage incident (30% compared to 17%).

This road rage/aggressive driving study was conducted with input by Dr Amanda Stephens who is a Research Fellow at the Monash University Accident Research Centre.

In collaboration with Budget Direct and MUARC, the National Road Safety Partnership Program released its second organisational road safety campaign on road rage, ‘Travel Time. Your Time.’ The campaign included fact sheets, posters, videos and more, all free to download and to help you reduce you and your colleagues aggression on the road.

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