THE 2009 AAMI CRASH INDEX shows that 91 percent of motorists agree that drivers are becoming more aggressive, and 83 percent believe that yelling, swearing and gesturing rudely is a justifiable response to road rage from other drivers.
The report, released annually since 1995, found that 60 percent of drivers worry about being targeted in a road rage attack, with 17 percent of those worrying 'a lot'.
AAMI Executive General Manager Anthony Durakovic said that, worse than verbal abuse and gesturing, 63 percent believe that tailgating other drivers was justifiable.
"Rude gestures (79 percent), verbal abuse (64 percent) and tailgating (63 percent) are experiences common to most drivers," Mr Durakovic said.
"However, the numbers that have experienced personal confrontation are the most alarming.
"Three in 10 drivers (29 percent) have been followed, one in eight (12 percent) have been forced off the road, one in 14 (seven percent) have had their car wilfully damaged and two percent physically assaulted by a road raging motorist.
"It is one thing to say passive retribution like yelling and swearing is acceptable, but that so many drivers believe tailgating another is acceptable behaviour is a serious concern."
Mr Durakovic said that traffic congestion is overwhelmingly the major source of driver aggression, with 30 percent of drivers saying it takes more than 30 minutes to drive to work - up from eight percent in 2005.
"Since 2005, there has been an 18 percent increase in drivers blaming aggression on traffic congestion, from 70 percent in 2005 to 88 percent this year," he said.
"This clearly shows drivers are frustrated with increasingly clogged roads, with motorists bearing the brunt of other drivers' anger."
The report showed that, despite drivers agreeing on acceptable behaviour, reality draws a different picture.
- Over half (54 percent) say signalling an apology is the best response to road rage, however only 39 percent would actually respond in this fashion.
- 39 percent say ignoring the other driver is the best response to road rage, however 42 percent say this would be their most likely response.
- Only three percent say retaliating with abuse or a rude gesture is the best response, however 13 percent say this is how they would most likely respond.