Three in every 10 motorists say they have personally witnessed some form of physical abuse related to a driving incident in the past 12 months, research for the annual RAC Report on Motoring has found.
And, almost half of the 1,753 drivers surveyed for the study – the equivalent of around 20m drivers – claim to have seen verbal abuse dished out to another motorist this year, while 60% of drivers say they see a greater number of road-rage incidents now than they did 10 years ago.
This is no doubt why the proportion of motorists who say that their single biggest motoring concern is the aggressive behaviour of other drivers has doubled – from 4% to 8% – over the past 12 months, putting it in fourth spot in the RAC’s 2019 list of 20 top motoring concerns.
What’s more, UK drivers are now so fearful of the dangers posed by other motorists that more than a third, the equivalent of more than 14 million car owners, say their top motoring-related concern this year is some form of illegal, anti-social or dangerous behaviour on the part of other drivers – behaviour that has the potential to put the lives of all other road users at serious risk.
These feared menaces, which include drivers breaking traffic laws such as tailgating, middle-lane hogging, running red lights or ignoring signs (5% ranked as top concern); texting at the wheel; drink-driving; and road rage – have never ranked higher in the annual research than they have this year.
RAC road safety spokesperson Simon Williams said: “All the fears associated with the behaviour of other drivers on the road have never featured as highly in our research as top motoring concerns as they have this year. This is primarily due to double the proportion of people ranking the aggressive behaviour of other drivers as their top concern this year.
“The most likely explanation must surely be a combination of factors including the pressure of modern life, reliance on the car for so many journeys, record volumes of traffic and congestion leading to never before seen frustration at the wheel.
“Perhaps it is also the case that our tolerance of other people who make mistakes while driving is falling. A quick sorry in the form of an apologetic wave could go a long way to taking the heat out of a situation, but unfortunately all too often it is a hand gesture of another sort that leads to an unpleasant car confrontation.”
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