‘Jekyll and Hyde’ drivers turn into motoring monsters

More than half of drivers behave more aggressively when at the wheel, according to a survey.

More than half of drivers behave more aggressively when at the wheel, according to a survey. - Credit: PA

British drivers have 'Jekyll and Hyde' personalities and behave differently when behind the wheel, according to new research.

A survey of 2,000 drivers, on behalf of Churchill Car Insurance and analysed by psychologist Donna Dawson, revealed that 57% of drivers behave differently and with more aggression when behind the wheel. And 27% of those polled believe this kind of behaviour was acceptable when driving.

The differing behaviours in and out of the car also were highlighted – 31% of those polled had sworn at someone while in the car, but only 12% had done so face to face, and 26% had shouted at others while driving but only 12% had done so in person.

Psychologist Donna Dawson said: 'One of the reasons drivers exert such different behaviours when on the road is the belief that their behaviour is justified by the circumstances – we tell ourselves 'the other driver caused me to react this way due to their bad driving. In other words, I am a perfectly reasonable person, reacting normally to another person's bad behaviour'.'

Men are more likely than women to behave aggressively, with 67% comparied to 49% admitting to doing so but it drops to less than half of those over the age of 55.


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'Motorists are human beings, not machines, and so they are prone to inconsistency, distraction and making mistakes. With this in mind, motorists should learn to drive 'defensively' and avoid driving in a stressed and nervous state. Being calm, alert and aware is essential – an angry, aggressive driver is a danger to themselves and others because they are out of control, so it's better to give them a wide berth and to shrug it off.

'The secret is not over reacting. If we became angry at every perceived injustice that occurred to us on the road, we would damage our mental and physical health and probably end up in an accident. The only way to make driving safe and more tolerable on our congested roads is to show each other patience and consideration. Consideration is contagious, and once it's shown to you, you are more likely to show it to someone else.'

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