Road rage is on the rise in Australia, particularly in male drivers

More than half of Australian men surveyed admitted to swearing while driving.

More than half of Australian men surveyed admitted to swearing while driving. Photo: Getty

Road rage is on the rise in Australia, according to a new report, with the proportion of drivers threatened or harmed during an incident doubling in two years.

The report, from Budget Direct and Monash University, found that incidents of road rage had soared between 2021 and 2023, particularly among male drivers.

Jerome Carslake, director of the National Road Safety Partnership program, said it is important to recognise that people make mistakes on the road.

“Someone may make an innocent mistake when they’re out and driving and then someone else may be having a bad day,” he said.

“It’s just the trigger that sets them off.”

sydney road tolls

Traffic, tiredness and stress can all contribute to aggressive driving, according to Carslake. Photo: Getty

He said for young, nervous or anxious drivers, being on the receiving end of a road rage incident can have a negative effect on them.

“If they become seriously nervous about driving, they might not get out on the road at all,” Carslake said.

Avoiding road rage

Male drivers on the road were more prone to road rage incidents, with 51 per cent of men surveyed admitting to aggressive behaviour like swearing, shouting or rudely gesturing at others when driving.

Carslake said there are a few ways to make sure you aren’t becoming increasingly angry while driving.

“Count to 10, take some deep breaths, just focus on yourself, and ask yourself ‘Does this actually matter?’,” he said.

“Some people make decisions based on aggression that they can really live to regret for the rest of their lives.”

Some 48 per cent of male drivers admitted to experiencing a road rage incident in the past year, but Carslake said it is important not to respond or get angry at someone aggressive on the road.

“The best thing to do is to take note of their number plate and move away from them,” he said.

“If you’re the aggressor, common sense can go out the door, especially if you’re hitting a car or you’re getting out to engage someone.”

He said sometimes the easiest way to disengage from someone is to give them a wave or an apology, even if you aren’t at fault.

“It’s one of the easiest things you can do,” Carslake said.

“Just acknowledge and say sorry, I’m not sure what happened.”

Road toll

2023 has been a horror year on the road after 1247 people lost their lives up to October.

Western Australia, Queensland and Victoria all saw slight increases, but New South Wales (22.9 per cent) and South Australia (47.3 per cent) had the most drastic increases in loss of life.

Carslake said it is important for drivers to remember they share the roads with the entire community.

“In Australia, it is very much about ourselves. We don’t allow following distances and we’re squeezing in and out of traffic,” he said.

“Everyone is focusing on the next thing and not on the moment.”

Road rage can increase the risk of accidents when drivers exceed the speed limit, tailgate other vehicles, weave through traffic or aggressively brake in front of other vehicles.

Carslake said other contributing factors, such as tiredness and stress, can lead to accidents and road rage incidents.

“Your brain goes into that space and you’re feeding all the adrenaline and your vision is narrowing down to focus on that person,” he said.

“Your internal voice when you are in the car can make it even worse.”

He said focusing on making a car trip more enjoyable can help avoid issues that can lead to accidents.

“Have your favourite playlist ready to go, listen to your music or have a podcast,” Carslake said.

“Make it an enjoyable time, instead of a time to be angry.”

Stay informed, daily
A FREE subscription to The New Daily arrives every morning and evening.
The New Daily is a trusted source of national news and information and is provided free for all Australians. Read our editorial charter
Copyright © 2024 The New Daily.
All rights reserved.