In a case of that it's easier to point the finger at others rather to admit our own shortcomings, a new study finds that 84 percent of Twin Cities drivers classify the driving behaviors of others as aggressive while less than a third fess up to committing behaviors that irk other motorists.
Actions such as tailgating, driving slowly in the left lane and cutting off other drivers top the list of behaviors that annoy motorists the most. Cutting through funeral lines, using high beams while facing on-coming traffic, able-bodied drivers taking handicap parking spots and cutting off school buses also get drivers' blood boiling.
Minneapolis, Dallas, Denver and Seattle drivers were the least likely to admit to engaging in aggressive driving behaviors - all below 31 percent - while motorists in Boston, Los Angeles and New York were most likely to confess to dangerous driving.
The good news is that a majority of the drivers in Minneapolis and nationwide polled by Safeco Insurance said they'd be willing to make one behavior change to combat bad driving. Starting Friday, the insurance company is launching "Drive it Forward Fridays" to promote positive driving actions.
"Small gestures can further driver safety and also propel the recipients of that goodwill to pass it on to other drivers," said Eric Trott, vice president of Marketing for the Boston-based insurer. "Safeco hoes to raise awareness of the types of behavior that can make a difference on the roadways."
In Minneapolis, motorists said driving would be more pleasant if others stopped tailgating, cutting off other drivers and didn't drive slow while in the left lane. The results were similar when compared with drivers in other U.S.. Cities. More than half said they would be willing to change one behavior to accomplish that.
Minding your manners on the road is not only good for other motorists, it's good for you, says Jonathan Alpert, a Manhattan-based psychotherapist and author of the book “Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days” who has written about road rage.
"People's emotions and anxieties often will play out on our roads and highways, putting us all in tense, high-stress driving conditions that can be dangerous,” he said. “A movement such as ‘Drive it Forward Fridays’ is not only good for society, but it's good for your mental health. Simple positive acts can have a huge impact on how you feel by activating the reward center in the brain — meaning it really can make you feel good.”
Illustration credit: Orlando Sentinel