Drivers Confess to Bad Behavior, Regrets

BadBehaviors

Do you swear at other drivers who anger you in traffic or demonstrate your displeasure with a hand gesture — perhaps a certain avian signal done flippantly — even when your children are in the car? If so, you are more likely to answer to "Mommy" than "Daddy."

We know, we know: Your mother's a saint; she'd never talk like a sailor or make obscene gestures in front of her prides and joys, even in a tense traffic situation. Don't blame us. Insurance.com commissioned a survey of 1,000 adults regarding rude driving behaviors and their related regrets, and that's what the results show. Although the study reports that women may be more likely to let it fly in front of the kiddies, men were well-represented in the bad behavior department too. The other half favors honking for driving too slowly and speeding up to prevent passing; men are also twice as likely as women to flash their high beams at someone — just to be a jerk.

Leon James, psychology professor at the University of Hawaii, has researched driving behavior and says people’s perceived anonymity behind the wheel makes them feel uninhibited. "The car gives us the illusion of being alone and safe in our fortress. If we do something ugly or inconsiderate we can always get away," James said in a statement. "But this is different when standing in line with others who are right there next to us."

James, who calls the backseat of the car the "road rage nursery," said future motorists' driver's ed begins with what they absorb from their parents' behind-the-wheel behaviors. TV and other media also impact driving perceptions, with aggressive behavior often portrayed as being rewarding in some way and driving shown as a competitive activity.

While a quarter of drivers reported feeling no remorse about their bad behaviors, that still leaves a large percentage with pangs of guilt. In hindsight, 75% regretted swearing in front of the kids; 62%, dinging someone's car in a parking lot and driving away; 56%, keying someone's car; 51%, swearing in front of elderly in-laws; and 51%, driving through a four-way stop out of turn.

The top 10 bad behaviors, followed by the portion of survey participants overall who copped to them, then by the gender percentage breakdown, are:

1. Honking at someone driving too slowly, 41% total (39% women; 43% men)
2. Swearing in front of the kids, 37% (44% women; 30% men)
3. Flipping someone off while driving, 29% (31% women; 27% men)
4. Brake-checking a car following too close, 28% (30% women; 27% men)
5. Speeding up to prevent someone from passing, 26% (25% women; 28% men)
6. Going out of turn at a four-way stop, 19% (18% women; 20% men)
7. Tailgating someone going too slow, 18% (21% women; 16% men)
8. Driving to the front of a merge line, then cutting in, 12% (11% women; 13% men)
9. Stealing a parking space someone else was waiting for, 11% (9% women; 13% men)
10. Driving in the breakdown lane to pass traffic, 10% (8% women; 13% men)

Related
Survey Ranks Cities by Least Courteous Drivers
Miami Still Top Road Rage City

More Top 10s on Cars.com

By Matt Schmitz | September 9, 2013 | Comments (12)
Tags: Safety, Top 10s

Comments 

Noniedee

I confess to everything except numbers 9 and 10. I am happy to say I have outgrown MOST of those behaviors. Now I am competely judgmental of all who drive like I used to drive.

Josh

Why is brake-checking a car following too close bad behavior? Fundamentally, you're trying to communicate something important to the car behind you.

Matt

People feeling worse about brake checking than tailgating? I'm sorry, but while both are bad behavior, tailgating is way worse than brake checking.

I'm guilty of both, but it's rare that I'd tailgate someone. Once in a while you get the self-important fool in the passing lane for no reason, going 5 under the limit while texting or something.

Most tailgaters will say you're going too slow, but nine times out of ten, you're unable to go any faster when they're doing it to you. It happens, but it's still more rare than you'd think to see someone actually blocking the left lane and not moving over with no one already ahead of them. In my daily experiences anyway...

On the other hand, while brake checking is dangerous, you're the one being instigated by the tailgater. The tailgater is already being aggressive and comes upon you, then antagonizes you!

I guess what I'm trying to say is, while it's possible to tailgate an "innocent" person, possibly someone who can't go any farther because the traffic ahead of them is congested and in all lanes, a tailgater is almost never "innocent" and therefore if you're brake checking someone they did something to make you do it to them.

I'm sure someone with contradict this but whatever, I've said it...haha.

FWIW, I've cut way back on the brake checking that I actually did do in the past. Nowadays I just start to drive really slow.

Pat

I have a question about #8. I agree that, when there's an exit-only lane (for example) posted well in advance and an obvious line forming, deliberately passing all those patient folks to zip in at the last minute is akin to cutting in line at your favorite fast-food restaurant or gourmet coffee shop.

However, what's the etiquette when driving on the highway, and construction signs indicate a lane restriction ahead? My dad always taught me to go as far up as you can, then merge. After all, doesn't it make everyone's drive faster? For the mile leading up to a mile-long construction zone, let's say, isn't it better to have 1 mile of 2-lane traffic and 1 mile of 1-lane traffic than a 1/2 mile of 2-lane traffic and 1 1/2 miles of 1-lane traffic?

Driving in Pennsylvania once, there was upcoming construction and multiple, very large signs instructing traffic to maintain 2 lanes all the way to the merge. Nevertheless, there was a weird ghost zone in that second lane, with semi-trucks moving out to block the way of anyone who dared follow the wisdom of the signs.

What's the right answer?

Matt

^I used to get mad when I first started driving and saw people do that in the construction zones. But mathematically and from an objective standpoint, it does make traffic move faster! So I stay in the faster moving lane to the end now.

I do get pissed when people take advantage of those breakdown lanes that are open for travel during rush hour. You're really not supposed to pass on the right unless it's reasonable and prudent to do so. Yet people see that lane, and think you can bomb up it 20mph faster than the flow of traffic, nearly killing people entering and exiting the highway to use the off and on ramps!

Donald Scott

Tailgating causes almost as many accidents as speeding. BAD stuff.

So says Ranger Don.

#8 is a downright lie. 12% my rear end.

#9 is ridiculous. You shouldn't be "waiting" for a parking space. This is the most infuriating thing I have ever seen. People back up traffic into the road because they can't be bothered to walk an extra 50 feet. If a space is open, take it... if not, then move on.

What infuriates me about tail gaiting is that if you are 4-5 mph above the posted speed limit, calm down and slow down. We are all already speeding beyond the legal limit, and you want to go faster? Who are you to say that you know what is safe better than an Engineer who designed the road for a specific speed? Everyone is always in a hurry, usually to get nowhere in particular. Usually so they can wait for that parking space backing up traffic into the road.

#8 is a downright lie. 12% my rear end.

#9 is ridiculous. You shouldn't be "waiting" for a parking space. This is the most infuriating thing I have ever seen. People back up traffic into the road because they can't be bothered to walk an extra 50 feet. If a space is open, take it... if not, then move on.

What infuriates me about tail gaiting is that if you are 4-5 mph above the posted speed limit, calm down and slow down. We are all already speeding beyond the legal limit, and you want to go faster? Who are you to say that you know what is safe better than an Engineer who designed the road for a specific speed? Everyone is always in a hurry, usually to get nowhere in particular. Usually so they can wait for that parking space backing up traffic into the road.

TMax

Isn't #8 the recommended, more efficient method? Google "zipper merge."

J

Actually, I slow down when someone's trying to pass. I want them to get back into the lane safely.
Out here in the sticks, we don't have many 'break down' lanes. I have SLOWLY passed people on the gravel sides--when there is one--or the shoulder--when there is one--on the Interstates when there's a lot of traffic behind me. Usually I can't because the only thing there is a ditch.
Really, stopping for something like that out here can get you rear-ended at 75 MPH. Not wise when you're driving a Neon & most others are driving 4*4's.
Break checking, IMO, is necessary sometimes as one can be rear-ended if they have to come to a quick stop.

stiff.arse

Doing the following around a semi tractor-trailer:-
(1) Overtaking from the right hand side,
(2) Hanging on the blind spots for extended period of time,
(3) Overtaking and then pulling in front of it without leaving adequate space between the two vehicles,
(4) Tail-gating,
(5) Dangerous merges from on-ramp,
(6) Cutting in front of a tractor trailer to take an exit,
(7) Brake-checking in front of a tractor-trailer for whatever reason.

ed

The worst behavior, and one of the most dangerous, is not even listed. That is the oblivious or self-important idiots who pull from a stop sign or drive into the path of a vehicle with no traffic behind it, then acclerate as if the proverbial egg were beneath the pedal to a leisurely speed limit at best, and usually 5-10 below. They will experience some tailgating as I grind off speed and friction material to match their pace; on the other hand, if they didn't want me inches behind them, why did they pull out right ahead of me? If they were in such a hurry to get onto the highway, why are they now in no hurry to travel it? This is of course most popular on two lane roads with limited or no passing opportunities. They will of course get "behavior #3" since that is what they have just said to me via this behavior. Many of the "bad driving behaviors" listed here are actually elicited by the rudeness or stupidity of the few drivers who don't share the common interest in safe and efficient travel.

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