Driving is nerve-wracking enough for many people, without having to manage angry outbursts from fellow drivers. But new research suggests road rage is rife on Britain's roads, with women disproportionately targeted by angry male drivers.
The study questioned more than 2,000 men and women about their experiences and behaviour on the roads, and found that while half of women (49%) had experienced road rage from the opposite sex, just 37% could say the same. The women in the study, conducted by dash cam manufacturer Nextbase, were also more likely to specifically reference gender when recalling their experiences of hostility while driving (17%, versus 9% among men).
Women were also more likely to feel a long-term impact from confrontation on the roads than men, the study found, with the vast majority of female victims saying aggressive incidents stuck with them for at least several hours (80%), days (31%) or even years. Meanwhile, over a third of men said road rage incidents had no effect on them whatsoever (37%). These negative experiences behind the wheel can really knock women's confidence, with a quarter (25%) admitting they're worried about it happening again, and a fifth (21%) claiming to be more nervous drivers as a result.
Male drivers, meanwhile, reported being more likely to engage in road rage in the future after experiencing road rage themselves. Twice as many men as women (22% compared to 11%) admitted being more likely to shout at people in the future following a heated incident.
Men just need another reason to cover up their anger issues and crap driving, so they attack women.
Sarah, 27, Birmingham
Sarah*, 27, an estate agent in Birmingham, has experienced road rage frequently during the nine years she's been driving, and says it's "mainly from men, though occasionally from women". She's not at all surprised by the latest findings. "Most often in my area it's men shouting about my parking, overtaking me and complaining about my driving speed. From women it is mainly in the morning on the commute to work, usually in response to traffic issues during rush hour."
"It's always when I’m alone, never when there's a passenger in my car," she adds. "Men just need another reason to cover up their anger issues and crap driving, so they attack women to hide their own faults on the road."
Jemima*, 24, a tech consultant in London, has had similar experiences but admits to being more likely to doubt herself than take her anger out on others. She has been subjected to road rage a couple of times a month since passing her test a year ago. "Being a cautious, relatively new driver, most of this has come from men rather than women, and it seems to stem from men being unwilling to tolerate their lack of control in a situation. I was once trying to bay park not long after passing my test. Naturally, this was a lengthy process and one man was unwilling to wait.
Men's natural confidence on the roads blinds them to any mistakes they might be making.
Jemima, 24, London
"He began beeping, during which time I tried to remain calm and finish the manoeuvre, but he then started shouting at me to 'hurry the **** up' out of his window. This was enough to make me abandon my attempt and leave the supermarket car park." Jemima says she's definitely on the receiving end of abuse more often when she's alone. "I can’t remember being a target when I’ve had a male passenger in the front seat, and even having them there gives me more confidence to stand my ground on the roads, which is sad."
She rarely retaliates as she believes "it's just not worth it". "Maybe subconsciously this is me blaming myself and believing I have actually made a mistake and they are in the right. Although on one occasion when I knew I was right – I was beeped for driving 'too slowly' but was actually just below the speed limit – I may have stuck up my middle finger."
She believes men's rage on the road stems from the hackneyed stereotype that women are bad drivers. "In their heads, perhaps this belief 'legitimises' their anger – some men's natural confidence on the roads blinds them to any mistakes they might be making, and this confidence often erupts as rage in even the smallest of situations."
*Names have been changed.