Facts + Statistics: Aggressive driving


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines aggressive driving as, “the operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger persons or property.”

According to the AAA, aggressive driving is any unsafe driving behavior performed deliberately and with ill intention or disregard for safety, including:

  • Tailgating
  • Cutting in front of another driver and then slowing down
  • Running red lights
  • Weaving in and out of traffic
  • Changing lanes without signaling
  • Blocking cars attempting to pass or change lanes
  • Using headlights or brakes to “punish” other drivers


According to NHTSA, speeding as categorized by one or more of these behaviors accounted for 18.5 percent of fatal crashes: driving too fast for the conditions, driver over the posted limit, or racing.

Driving Behaviors Reported For Drivers And Motorcycle Operators Involved In Fatal Crashes, 2021

Behavior   Number Percent
Driving too fast for conditions or in excess of posted limit or racing 11,254 18.5%
Under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medication 6,835 11.2
Operating vehicle in a careless manner 4,601 7.6
Failure to yield right of way 4,239 7
Failure to keep in proper lane 4,042 6.6
Distracted (phone, talking, eating, object, etc.) 3,346 5.5
Operating vehicle in erratic, reckless or negligent manner 2,615 4.3
Failure to obey traffic signs, signals, or officer 2,450 4
Overcorrecting/oversteering 1,845 3
Vision obscured (rain, snow, glare, lights, building, trees, etc.) 1,584 2.6
Drowsy, asleep, fatigued, ill, or blacked out  1,310 2.2
Swerving or avoiding due to wind, slippery surface, etc. 1,278 2.1
Driving wrong way on one-way traffic or wrong side of road 1,179 1.9
Making improper turn 445 0.7
Other factors 5,825 9.6
None reported 9,576 15.7
Unknown 19,636 32.2
Total drivers (1) 60,904 100%

(1) Number of drivers and motorcycle operators.
(2) The sum of the numbers and percentages is greater than total drivers as more than one factor may be present for the same driver.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Additional Resources

AAA Foundation for Safe Driving, How to Avoid Aggressive Driving.

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