Nearly 8 in 10 Americans in a new AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety survey exhibit some form of aggressive driving behavior on occasion, but men admit some specific tendencies at higher rates than women do.

"Actually, it's men themselves that admit to being more aggressive behind the wheel, particularly as it regards certain aggressive driving behaviors, and that would be speeding," Robert Sinclair, Jr., AAA Northeast senior manager of public affairs, said.

When it came to speeding at least 15 mph over the limit on a freeway, 52% of men admitted they did this, compared with 44.6% of women.

Other metrics showed deeper disparities in percentage (31.5% of men say they switch lanes quickly or tailgate, versus just 21.4% of women), but men topped women in all measured categories, including following closely to prevent merging, making rude gestures or honking at other drivers, and running red lights.

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But speeding is of greatest concern, according to Sinclair, and not just because it cuts down on reaction time.

Many people tend to speed when they are running late, but Sinclair said AAA's research has shown the time a driver may save by flooring the gas is negligible.

"You can't make up that time, especially on a short trip, a 5-mile trip on a 45 mph posted road, if you're driving 65, you're only saving 1.9 minutes," he said.

And with money on people's minds as the COVID-19 crisis continues, Sinclair said that if you are issued a ticket for speeding 15 to 20 mph over a posted limit, your insurance rates will almost certainly go up.

Speaking of COVID, Sinclair said that prior to the onset of the pandemic, the Northeast region was seeing some of the worst traffic in its history. That slowed, literally, for a while, but now AAA's analysts say we are back to pre-pandemic volume on the roads — just in time for the most hectic and stressful time of the year.

Yet while we must remain attentive behind the wheel, Sinclair's best advice is to take it as easy as you can, to reduce all the aggression.

"We have to separate that from road rage, and road rage is the next step, a violent physical act that might result from an act of aggressive driving," he said. "Whatever it is that you have to do to just get more relaxed when you're behind the wheel, give yourself more time, it's very important that we do that."

AAA further advises: don't offend other drivers, be tolerant and forgiving, and do not respond to others' aggression.

As of Monday, New Jersey State Police statistics showed 553 confirmed fatalities from 520 crashes on the state's roadways so far in 2020, led by Middlesex County, with 66 fatalities for nearly 12% of New Jersey's total. The county is one of the state's most congested in terms of major highways, with dual merges of U.S. Routes 1 and 9, and the Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike, in Woodbridge alone.

Statewide, fatalities among drivers from ages 30 to 39, and ages 50 to 64, far outnumbered any other demographic. Gender-specific data for the state is not available at this time.

Patrick Lavery is New Jersey 101.5's afternoon news anchor. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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