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Find out how common road rage acts are, how Australians express their anger on the roads, how trends have changed over time, and our potential solutions to road rage in our latest survey results.

4 August 2021 | See disclaimer

Quick stats

  • 45% of Australians surveyed have admitted to showing signs of road rage and aggression toward another road user in the previous year
  • Around 72% of Australians have had another driver shout, swear, or rudely gesture at them in the previous 12 months
  • 27% of Australians believe they drive less aggressively if they have a passenger with them in the car
  • Only 22% of drivers would act less aggressively toward a car with a “Baby on Board” sticker.

1.0 What counts as "road rage"?

Road rage will vary a little by each person’s definition, but generally, it’s the showing of aggression toward another driver. This might be done by:

  • swearing
  • shouting
  • rudely gesturing
  • threatening another road user
  • harming another road user
  • damaging someone else's vehicle.

In most states of Australia, road rage can often infringe on road safety laws, and could even be deemed assault[1]

2.0. Risks of road rage

Direct damage

The consequences of a road rage incident can easily be a collision, damage to your car, or even physical harm.

Distraction

If you’re paying more attention to another motorist, that’s less attention you have on the road.

Mental well-being

Stressful situations can easily take their toll on your mental welfare. Road rage often leaves motorists rattled and upset.

3.0 Australian road rage survey results

3.1 How often do you drive a car or motor vehicle?

State
Age
Gender

Over 80% of Australians surveyed over the age of 18 drive a car or motor vehicle every week. Only around 10% never drive a motor vehicle, or drive at least less frequently than a few times a year. Western Australians had the highest rate of drivers, with almost 90% indicating they drive at least once a week.

3.2 During the past 12 months, when driving, which types of road rage have you experienced from another road user?*

State
Age
Gender
Trend over time
  Shouted, cursed or made rude gestures at me A cyclist showed aggression towards me or others with me Intentionally hurt or threatened to hurt me or others with me Intentionally damaged or attempted to damage the vehicle I was in None of the above
NSW 78.2% 14.9% 10.9% 8.9% 13.9%
Vic 75.0% 12.0% 6.5% 5.4% 19.6%
Qld 69.7% 10.1% 2.3% 5.6% 22.5%
WA 61.5% 3.9% 11.5% 3.9% 34.6%
SA 67.7% 12.9% 3.2% 6.5% 22.6%
Tas 77.8% 11.1% 0.0% 0.0% 22.2%
Aus 72.6% 11.8% 6.7% 6.2% 20.5%
  Shouted, cursed or made rude gestures at me A cyclist showed aggression towards me or others with me Intentionally hurt or threatened to hurt me or others with me Intentionally damaged or attempted to damage the vehicle I was in None of the above
18-24 76.7% 16.7% 13.3% 6.7% 13.3%
25-34 67.0% 16.5% 11.0% 9.9% 23.1%
35-44 78.4% 14.9% 6.8% 1.4% 13.5%
45-54 76.1% 4.5% 6.0% 4.5% 20.9%
55-64 66.0% 8.0% 2.0% 8.0% 30.0%
65+ 73.0% 8.9% 0.0% 6.7% 20.0%
Total 72.6% 11.8% 6.7% 6.2% 20.5%
  Shouted, cursed or made rude gestures at me A cyclist showed aggression towards me or others with me Intentionally hurt or threatened to hurt me or others with me Intentionally damaged or attempted to damage the vehicle I was in None of the above
Female 71.6% 10.9% 7.1% 6.6% 20.8%
Male 73.6% 12.6% 6.3% 5.8% 20.1%
Total 72.6% 11.8% 6.7% 6.2% 20.5%
  2020 2021
Shouted, cursed or made rude gestures at me 65% 73%
A cyclist showed aggression towards me or others with me 36% 12%
Intentionally hurt or threatened to hurt me or others with me 23% 7%
Intentionally damaged or attempted to damage the vehicle I was in 21% 6%

*Users were able to select multiple answers, meaning values may not add up to 100%.

Over 70% of Australians surveyed have had another driver shout, swear, or rudely gesture at them while on the road in the previous 12 months. Western Australians were the least likely to have not experienced any signs of road rage, with 34% suggesting that none of the listed scenarios had happened to them in the past year.

Over time, more Australians have experienced shouting, swearing or rude gestures than they had in our 2020 survey. However, since that survey was conducted in September 2020, the rate of Australians having been intentionally hurt, harmed or threatened has decreased significantly

3.3 During the past 12 months, when driving, which types of road rage have you directed toward another road user?*

State
Age
Gender
Trend over time
  Shouted, cursed or made rude gestures at them Intentionally hurt or threatened to hurt them or others with them Intentionally damaged or attempted to damage the vehicle they were in Showed aggression toward a cyclist None of the above
NSW 41.6% 5.0% 5.9% 4.0% 50.5%
Vic 39.1% 3.3% 4.4% 4.4% 58.7%
Qld 38.2% 2.3% 0.0% 2.3% 58.4%
WA 57.7% 3.9% 3.9% 0.0% 38.5%
SA 35.5% 3.2% 3.2% 6.5% 58.1%
Tas 33.3% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 66.7%
Aus 40.3% 3.4% 3.4% 3.4% 55.2%
  Shouted, cursed or made rude gestures at them Intentionally hurt or threatened to hurt them or others with them Intentionally damaged or attempted to damage the vehicle they were in Showed aggression toward a cyclist None of the above
18-24 46.7% 16.7% 6.7% 10.0% 36.7%
25-34 45.1% 4.4% 5.5% 3.3% 49.5%
35-44 54.1% 1.4% 4.1% 4.1% 41.9%
45-54 31.3% 1.5% 3.0% 3.0% 65.7%
55-64 34.0% 2.0% 0.0% 2.0% 64.0%
65+ 24.4% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 75.6%
Total 40.3% 3.4% 3.4% 3.4% 55.2%
  Shouted, cursed or made rude gestures at them Intentionally hurt or threatened to hurt them or others with them Intentionally damaged or attempted to damage the vehicle they were in Showed aggression toward a cyclist None of the above
Female 41.0% 3.3% 3.8% 1.6% 54.6%
Male 39.7% 3.5% 2.9% 5.2% 55.8%
Total 40.3% 3.4% 3.4% 3.4% 55.2%
  2020 2021
Shouted, cursed or made rude gestures at them 45% 40%
Showed aggression toward a cyclist 12% 3%
Intentionally hurt or threatened to hurt them or others with them 12% 3%
Intentionally damaged or attempted to damage the vehicle they were in 12% 3%

*Users were able to select multiple answers, meaning values may not add up to 100%.

Men and women tended to have very similar behaviours when it comes to road rage, with around 55% suggesting that they hadn’t done any of the usual signs of aggression on the roads. There was also a correlation between the likelihood of someone acting aggressively on the roads and their age, with younger drivers more likely to have committed road rage acts than older drivers.

A comparison to the results of our survey in 2020 also shows that Australians respondents  are admitting to less acts of road rage than they had the previous year. This correlates to the less reported instances of road rage, shown in 3.2.

3.4 Which of the following situations would commonly cause you to feel angry or annoyed while driving?*

State
Age
Gender
Trend over time
  Potentially dangerous behaviour by other road users (e.g. cutting in front, tail-gating) Direct aggression from other road users (e.g. shouting, rude gestures) Rudeness or discourtesy from other road users (e.g. failing to indicate, not giving a ‘thank you’ wave) Travel delays
NSW 73.9% 60.4% 49.4% 23.6%
Vic 78.4% 57.6% 51.5% 26.0%
Qld 84.1% 57.8% 50.0% 23.7%
WA 82.3% 49.4% 59.5% 13.9%
SA 77.4% 59.3% 33.3% 22.2%
Tas 74.1% 59.3% 33.3% 22.2%
Aus 78.1% 56.8% 51.5% 23.7%
  Potentially dangerous behaviour by other road users (e.g. cutting in front, tail-gating) Direct aggression from other road users (e.g. shouting, rude gestures) Rudeness or discourtesy from other road users (e.g. failing to indicate, not giving a ‘thank you’ wave) Travel delays
18-24 71.8% 52.1% 52.1% 38.0%
25-34 74.3% 58.0% 57.5% 26.6%
35-44 80.0% 60.0% 52.3% 24.6%
45-54 76.6% 50.5% 48.9% 21.7%
55-64 79.8% 56.1% 46.2% 23.1%
65+ 84.1% 61.6% 50.3% 14.6%
Aus 78.1% 56.8% 51.5% 23.7%
  Potentially dangerous behaviour by other road users (e.g. cutting in front, tail-gating) Direct aggression from other road users (e.g. shouting, rude gestures) Rudeness or discourtesy from other road users (e.g. failing to indicate, not giving a ‘thank you’ wave) Travel delays
Female 80.1% 56.7% 52.1% 23.0%
Male 75.7% 57.0% 50.8% 24.5%
Total 78.1% 56.8% 51.5% 23.7%
  2020 2021
Potentially dangerous behaviour by other road users 93% 78%
Direct aggression from other road users 86% 57%
Rudeness or discourtesy from other road users 93% 52%
Travel delays 90% 24%

*Users were able to select multiple answers, meaning values may not add up to 100%.

People seem mostly be made to feel angry or annoyed on the road by other human behaviour, such as dangerous driving, aggression, or rudeness from other motorists. Travel delays seem far less impactful on our state of mind behind the wheel.

Collectively, Tasmanians were the least irritable, based on combining the situations that make people feel angry or annoyed. On the other hand, Queensland drivers turned out to be the most irritable in Australia.

Over time, drivers seem far less irritable than they did in our September 2020 survey. This significant drop in triggers for anger might correlate to the reduced rate of road rage observed in 3.2 and 3.3.

3.5 Do your road rage behaviours change when you have a passenger in the car with you?

State
Age
Gender

Younger drivers were the most likely to change their behaviour due to having a passenger in the car, with around 41% indicating they would drive less aggressively. However, as drivers get older, their odds of changing their driving style and aggression become smaller and smaller, with over 80% of surveyed drivers aged 65 or above suggesting their aggression wouldn’t change, regardless of whether they had a passenger or not.

New South Wales and Victoria were the states also most likely to decrease their aggression on the roads with a passenger, with Tasmanians the least likely to change their behaviour. 

3.6 Does the music you listen to affect your likelihood of acting aggressively toward other road users?

State
Age
Gender

Similarly to driving with a passenger, music tends to change the behaviour of younger drivers more than it does older groups. Again, sampled New South Wales drivers were the most likely to have their aggression be influenced by music, whereas Tasmanians were again the least likely.

3.7 Do you feel like certain makes/models of car make a driver more likely to be aggressive on the roads?

Results indicate that Australians carry biases on the roads, believing certain makes and models of car to be driven by more aggressive drivers. This could lead to premeditated, or prejudiced aggression on the roads.

3.8 Which of these signs in cars would make you less likely to be aggressive to the driver?*

State
Age
Gender
  None of the above, I would treat every motorist the same way L Plates Disability sticker Baby on Board P Plates
NSW 49.4% 36.8% 26.7% 25.8% 16.6%
Vic 51.1% 37.7% 22.9% 22.1% 14.4%
Qld 58.2% 32.3% 22.8% 17.7% 10.3%
WA 48.1% 36.7% 25.3% 26.6% 19.0%
SA 53.6% 34.5% 27.4% 21.4% 10.7%
Tas 48.2% 44.4% 22.2% 14.8% 22.2%
Aus 52.2% 35.7% 24.8% 22.3% 14.3%
  None of the above, I would treat every motorist the same way L Plates Disability sticker Baby on Board P Plates
18-24 39.4% 40.9% 26.8% 19.7% 22.5%
25-34 48.2% 34.5% 30.5% 26.1% 13.7%
35-44 51.8% 36.4% 19.5% 22.6% 15.9%
45-54 56.0% 31.0% 21.2% 24.5% 12.0%
55-64 50.3% 42.2% 23.7% 16.8% 11.6%
65+ 62.3% 32.5% 27.8% 21.2% 15.2%
Total 52.2% 35.7% 24.8% 22.3% 14.3%
  None of the above, I would treat every motorist the same way L Plates Disability sticker Baby on Board P Plates
Female 54.7% 35.8% 22.1% 19.0% 11.7%
Male 49.2% 35.5% 28.0% 26.3% 17.4%
Total 52.2% 35.7% 24.8% 22.3% 14.3%

*Users were able to select multiple answers, meaning values may not add up to 100%.

Around 50% of drivers wouldn’t change their aggression toward other motorists, no matter if they had a special consideration sign on their car. L-plates were the most likely sign to change another driver’s behaviour, with around 36% of drivers indicating they would be less aggressive toward a learner.

Younger drivers (aged 18 to 24) tend to be more forgiving of learners, however have less sympathy for a driver with a baby on board.

3.9 Do you use any mindfulness, breathing, or calming strategies if you find yourself aggravated by other road users?

Only 30% of Australians surveyed have strategies in place to calm themselves if they get aggravated by other road users. This leaves around 70% most likely holding onto anger, and more susceptible to disturbances as their journey continues.

3.10 Do you think the police should do more to respond urgently to complaints of road rage?

State
Age
Gender

Most Australians feel the police need to do more to combat road rage. Particularly Australians aged over 65, where over 92% felt this way. Queenslanders (85%) and Tasmanians (89%) also had higher-than-average rates of wanting more police input on road rage issues.

4.0 Tips for avoiding road rage

Carpooling

Having calm people with you might persuade you to let go of anger on the road. If someone is more likely to keep you calm on the road, they’re worth having around.

Consider breathing and mindfulness exercises

Apps such as Calm or Headspace can help you learn tips and tricks for improving your state of mind, and reducing your anger on the roads.

Try not to make eye contact

To avoid setting other drivers off, you’re often best to avoid eye contact. Looking directly at them can make them feel threatened, and more likely to express anger toward you.

Disclaimer: This survey was conducted by Pure Profile on behalf of Budget Direct in July 2021. The survey was conducted online with a total sample size of 1,000, weighted and representative of all Australian adults (aged 18+). All other data on this website is the latest available from the named sources in this article, and was obtained in June 2021. 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.

References:

[1] Shine Lawyers, 2021, Dealing with Road Rage: What Should and Shouldn’t You Do?.

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