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Survey: 80 percent of drivers admit they get angry behind the wheel

Survey: 80 percent of drivers admit they get angry behind the wheel (Sinclair Broadcast Group)

Failure to use a turn signal. Tailgating. Motorists who honk their horns at another car. A vehicle forcing its way into a line of traffic. These are pet peeves listed by drivers we spoke to, when asked how other drivers make them angry.

In a survey released last summer by the American Automobile Association (AAA), nearly 80 percent of respondents admitted to feeling anger behind the wheel at some point.

“All normal drivers have feelings of anger at times when someone else dangerously shifts lanes in front of them. All normal drivers have thoughts of retribution, like I’d like to get back at that person,” said Dr. David Kupfer, a psychologist based in Falls Church, Virginia.

Sometimes that anger can lead to deadly consequences.

The shooting death of former NFL player Joe McKnight in Louisiana earlier this month -- allegedly following a road rage incident -- drew a national response on social media.

Then, just a week shy of Christmas, a three-year-old boy in Little Rock, Arkansas, was fatally shot when another motorist fired a gun at his grandmother's car.

Days later, an eight-year-old girl was shot in the foot, when a passing car opened fire on the car she was riding in, on an Oregon interstate.

About 103 million Americans are traveling this holiday season -- more than 90 million of them by car, according to AAA. Dr. Kupfer points out that increased cars on the road can lead to more opportunities for people to commit road rage incidents.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration agrees, pointing out that rude and aggressive driving behaviors in all are likely on the rise due to an overall increase in motorists.

More than 200 million people have drivers licenses in the United States.

AAA found that male drivers were more likely than female drivers to admit to aggressive driving behaviors in its survey, and Dr. Kupfer pointed to testosterone as a factor there.

He also named two other factors confronting modern drivers: A sense of entitlement with all drivers feeling they "own the road" and the programmable features increasingly available in every car, like internet and satellite music services and Bluetooth connectivity.

"When you get into a car, you consider the car – especially kind of now that you can program your own music, talk on the phone in your car -- you see the car as your personal space, as your private space, and you forget that you’re sharing a very public road with other people," Dr. Kupfer said.

He advises that the best way for drivers to overcome that feeling of road rage is to let go of the need to control other drivers on the road, saying, "I’m sure that everyone’s ideas of how other people should be driving are absolutely brilliant and correct, but letting go of what you can’t control is wise."

If the driver is transporting children, Dr. Kupfer says that it's also best to be a good role model behind the wheel for the drivers of the future.

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