PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Aggressive driving plays a major role in the number of fatal collisions each year.
A new Forbes Advisor study found road rage incidences are on the rise — and some states have higher shares of confrontational drivers than others. Forbes surveyed 10,000 licensed drivers and compared all 50 states across nine metrics.
Rhode Island was ranked 2nd in the nation, only behind Arizona, for the most confrontational drivers.
According to the survey, Rhode Islanders were most likely to report that another driver has either yelled, insulted, cursed or made threats to them while behind the wheel.
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Aggressive driving is a form of reckless driving and it can include anything from failing to use a turn signal to speeding — something experts say they have seen an uptick in since the pandemic.
"In Rhode Island, it's a major factor in the fatal crashes we do see," AAA Northeast Spokesperson Mark Shieldrop said. "Fatalities have reached levels that we haven't seen in many years."
Shieldrop told 12 News the most recent federal crash data reports that more than 12,000 people died in speeding-related crashes in 2021.
"What really jumps out to me is when I look at those speeding-related fatal crashes, more than half are occurring on roads where the speed limit is 30 mph or less," Shieldrop added.
Aggressive driving can also turn into road rage, which turns into criminal behavior, 12 News Law Enforcement Analyst Stephen O'Donnell said.
"You'll see it everywhere across the country on video, someone pounding on someone's window, that is beyond aggressive driving," O'Donnell explained.
The Forbes survey found that 57% of Rhode Islanders reported that another driver got out of their vehicle to yell at or fight with them.
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"It's the anxiety of what could have just happened if you hit them, and the tragedy that we read about every day," O'Donnell added. "That's where people's reactions get elevated.
O'Donnell said that while they can stop a car based on the number of complaints, it's hard to cite or charge them when they didn't see it happen.
"People have to learn to really decompress, not accept that behavior but not go challenge that person," he said.
Additionally, Rhode Island drivers were third most likely to report that another driver had cut them off on purpose
Shieldrop and O'Donnell say the best way to avoid situations like these is simple — leave earlier or understand that we share the road with all types of people.
"One technique I like to suggest people do is when that car in front of you is going to too slow for you, and you're feeling frustrated, just visualize an infant in a car seat right in that back seat and maybe that will help you cool off a little bit," Shieldrop said.
Connecticut came in 7th but Massachusetts was further down at 16th.