A recent examination of U.S. road rage postings on Instagram offers a look at when people are perhaps most likely to vent their anger while driving, an insurance industry website says. The postings also show New York ranking at the top in per capita #RoadRage ranting for three years in a row.
The Auto Insurance Center sifted through more than 100,000 Instagram postings since 2011 that mention #RoadRage and plotted them for several factors, such as frequency, location, time of the day and day of the week.
The analysis appears to show that people were more likely to share images with the hashtag #RoadRage during highly traveled vacation times than during periods when they might be grinding out a daily commute. August turns out to be a leading month for venting on the social media platform about road rage -- which, as a peek at Instagram can confirm, is something you'll find just about anywhere in the world where you find people and vehicles.
A lot of postings also went up as people hit the road around popular holidays, such as Memorial Day. That might be because a lot of people found their vacation escape route blocked by traffic, the website says. But it also could have been that some of those posting about #RoadRage were just glad to get away as a lot of the postings were tongue in cheek.
The website's hashtag-sifting is an innovative, if less than reliable way, of looking at an issue that has always been with us on the road -- and probably always will be, even when it's somebody's self-driving car cutting off another robot-driven car.
"Aggressive driving, dubbed 'road rage,' has been around about as long as cars. It's just that we seem to pay attention to it in cycles, rediscovering it as a highway safety issue every decade or two," the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says in a status report.
The IIHS, in surveying the literature on the topic, quoted from a 1937 textbook that counseled against blowing one's top that "A good driver never permits himself to become angry."
People have often cited different causes, too. The IIHS also cites a 1978 Los Angeles Times article that blamed TV commercials and "programs that stress macho themes." Other putative causes cited over the years have been the 55 mph national speed limit, increasingly crowded streets and lengthening commutes.
While the IIHS report expresses some skepticism about seeing upward trends in road rage -- suggesting this has more to do with high-profile events that capture a lot of attention -- there's plenty of evidence that it's a persistent problem. A 2016 survey by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that nearly 80 percent of drivers expressed significant anger, aggression or road rage at least once in the previous year. AAA says about 8 million people acted out, with some going so far as to ram another vehicle or exit the car to confront another driver
Psychologists who have examined the characteristics of road rangers have found that the drivers most likely to engage in such behavior are also more likely to suffer from anxiety and anger issues, are prone to boredom, and are more likely to engage in risky or impulsive behavior -- and now, who knows, maybe posting something on #RoadRage to Instagram, too.