Parents responsible for rising road rage

Article date: 27 June 2008

  • New research finds link between parental driving and rise in road rage 

Road rage is on the increase in the UK, with half of all British motorists affected, and this growing trend could in part be down to drivers imitating their parents' behaviour behind the wheel, according to a new study.

The research by Norwich Union found that road rage is most likely to occur among inexperienced young drivers aged 18-29, with three in five (61%) admitting to a personality changes behind the wheel. What's more, nearly two in five (39%) young drivers blame their parents for their erratic driving behaviour, saying they inherited their road rage tendencies from seeing them behind the wheel.

The UK's largest insurer found that reckless driving (82%), slow motorists (69%) and traffic jams (49%) top the list of main road rage triggers. And while one in five (22%) drivers simply shrug off any confrontation, over half of UK drivers (52%) react differently to how they would normally by swearing, shouting, making rude gestures, and flashing their lights.

Nigel Bartram at Norwich Union said: "With more and more congestion on UK roads and driving becoming an increasingly stressful experience, it's no wonder road rage is more widespread than ever. However our research shows how important it is for drivers to try and keep their cool when on the roads - not only will it help make their children better drivers, it will also make their journey easier and less stressful, not to mention safer."

The study by Norwich Union also found that:

  • Men (64%) are more prone to road rage than women (55%)
  • Older drivers aged 60+ are the least affected by road rage with just 15%
  • Women are twice as likely than men to panic and lose concentration if faced with road rage.

Nick Copland, driver behaviour analyst and founder of, teamed up with Norwich Union to analyse the findings. He commented: "Children spend a lot of time in the car with their parents and the research shows the impact our parents' behaviour behind the wheel can have on our own driving. Children pick up many of their parents' habits when they become adults themselves and driving is clearly no different - that's why parents should lead by example behind the wheel and try not to give in to road rage."                                      

Norwich Union has linked up with to develop some top tips to help UK drivers have a more pleasurable driving experience and avoid road rage:

  • When you first get in the car, relax - put on some nice relaxing music, take a few deep breaths before turning the key and take your time.
  • It's not because you're in a car and not face to face that common courtesy shouldn't prevail - respect other drivers, thanks them if they do you a favour, and be sure to help others if they in turn need a favour from you.
  • Avoid honking your horn at other drivers unless absolutely necessary, it can be perceived as very aggressive.
  • Be especially aware of your behaviour if you have children in the car - if you're aggressive and wound up, it will affect them, which probably won't make your journey any more pleasant. Plus think about the impact it will have on them as drivers later in life.
  • If things get too stressful, stop the car in an appropriate spot and try to relax for five minutes before taking to the road again.
  • Make sure you allow enough time to get to your destination.
  • Avoid ranting and swearing at other drivers, whatever the circumstances - the only outcome is that it will make you feel more wound up and affect your concentration and road safety.


Press office contacts:

Alice Smithard
Lexis PR
Telephone: 020 7908 6534 

Emilie Lien
Lexis PR
Telephone: 020 7908 6421 

Erik Nelson
Norwich Union press office
Telephone: 01603 682 264, 07989 427 086

Notes to editors:

Research conducted by Redshift Market Research among 1,007 UK adults aged 18+, 16-19 May 2008.

Norwich Union is the UK's largest general insurer with a market share of around 15%, with a focus on insurance for individuals and small businesses.

It is a leading provider of life, pensions and investment products and one of the largest financial adviser (FA) providers. FAs provide over 70% of the company's long-term savings business in the UK.

Norwich Union's news releases and a selection of images are available from Aviva's internet press centre at

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