Survey reveals top gripes among drivers

These behaviors drive Americans crazy when they're behind the wheel

Published: March 2012

Texting while driving is a safety risk as well as a pet peeve for many drivers.

Drivers are especially bothered by people who text on a cell phone while driving and by able-bodied drivers parking in handicapped spaces. Those are among the findings of a nationally representative telephone survey conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center in January 2012.

We asked 895 Americans to score 20 common driver gripes on a 1-to-10 scale, with 1 meaning a behavior "does not annoy you at all" and 10 means it "annoys you tremendously." About two-thirds of respondents rated those top two behaviors as a 10. Tailgaters (who follow too closely behind your car), drivers who cut you off, and speeding drivers who swerve in and out of traffic filled out the top five spots.

For each of those top behaviors, and for 14 of the 20 gripes overall, women were significantly more annoyed than men.

We also saw differences based on age, with cranked-up radio volume being the strongest example. Younger drivers (<35 years old) were less annoyed than older drivers (35+ years old) by loud car stereos. Conversely, the younger demographic was more annoyed by motorists that didn't go when the intersection light turned green.

There is was also variation in annoyance levels when comparing metro and rural areas. City drivers were more annoyed by the slowness of traffic, swerving drivers, jaywalkers, and limited parking spaces. The one area matter that rural drivers had a higher level of annoyance was with drivers who didn't turn on their headlights when it is was raining or getting dark.

Most annoying behaviors Nuisance level (scale 1-10)
Texting on a cell phone while driving 8.9
Able-bodied drivers parking in handicapped spaces 8.7
Tailgaters 8.4
Drivers who cut you off 8.3
Speeding and swerving in and out of traffic 8.2
Taking up two parking spaces 7.7
Talking on a cell phone while driving 7.6
Not letting you merge into a lane 7.6
Not dimming high beams when approaching 7.6
Not using turn signals 7.5
Slow drivers dawdling in the passing lane 7.3
Jaywalkers stepping in front of your car 7.3
Excessive horn honking 7.1
Slowing down to "rubberneck" at accidents 7
Not turning on lights when it's raining or at dusk 6.8
Drivers who are indecisive about where to turn 6.6
Slow drivers on a two-lane road who won't pull over 6.5
Not going when the light turns green 6.1
Bicyclists who don't let you by 5.8
Cranking up the radio volume 5.7

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