Over two million Canadians drive aggressively: poll

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OTTAWA, Sept. 26, 2007 – A new poll by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) has found that over two million Canadians display aggressive driving behaviours.

The poll also noted that most Canadians believe aggressive driving is on the rise, with 88 per cent stating that aggressive driving is more common today than it was five years ago.

“Aggressive driving is a broad issue that includes behaviours like excessive speeding, running red lights, honking the horn, taking risks for fun while driving, and, in the extreme, physical violence,” says Ward Vanlaar, a research associate for TIRF.

Among the findings, the poll found some 2.7 million Canadians admitted to frequently driving well over the speed limit. Another two million regularly speed up to get through red lights.

Even more disturbing, some 670,000 Canadians say they like to take risks while driving, just for the fun of it.

“An aggressive driver may not intend to harm others, but their behaviour elevates everybody’s crash risk,” says Vanlaar. “Speeding, taking risks, and running red lights are all extremely dangerous.”

On the encouraging side, Canadians appear to be aware of the risks posed by aggressive driving.

Some 76 per cent of Canadians think drivers who run red lights are either a very or extremely serious problem. Another 73 per cent have the same opinion about street racing, and 66 per cent about excessive speeding.

“Given the magnitude of the problem, Canadians are right to be concerned about aggressive driving,” says Vanlaar.

The poll also shed some light on the characteristics of aggressive drivers.

There were more than twice as many male aggressive drivers as female aggressive drivers. Young drivers aged 16 to 24 were more likely to honk their horn at another driver. Drivers aged 16 to 44 were also more likely to behave aggressively in traffic.

In addition, the poll found a link between aggressive driving and traffic citations.

“We rated Canadians on their aggressiveness on the road and found that the drivers who were most aggressive had the highest number of traffic citations,” says Vanlaar.

Vanlaar notes that Canadians would have no problem seeing aggressive drivers get more tickets for these dangerous behaviours. The poll revealed 63 per cent of Canadians believe aggressive driving should be a higher priority for police, and half of all Canadians even believe the penalties for driving aggressively should be equal to that of drinking and driving. A further 43 per cent were supportive of a technology to prevent excessive speeding.

“The bottom line is many drivers are aggressive, possibly without realizing it, and these aggressive behaviours are dangerous,” says Vanlaar. “Canadians need to be mindful of this with regards to their own driving.”

About the poll:

Results of this poll appear in The Road Safety Monitor 2006: Aggressive Driving, available at: www.trafficinjuryresearch.com. A total of 1,201 Canadians completed the poll. Results can be considered accurate within plus or minus 2.9 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

About TIRF:

Established in 1964, TIRF’s mission is to reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries. As a national, independent, charitable road safety institute, TIRF designs, promotes, and implements effective programs and policies, based on sound research. TIRF is a registered charity and depends on grants, contracts, and donations to provide services for the public. More information about TIRF can be found at: www.trafficinjuryresearch.com.