Kiwi motorists have different ways of thanking other drivers depending on what part of the country they live in, a new survey shows.

Wellingtonians are more likely to send a thank you toot if another driver lets them in, while Aucklanders prefer to flash their hazard lights in gratitude.

The research, revealed by BP, comes on the back of the study about road rage in New Zealand.

More than 70 per cent of drivers have experienced road rage, according to the independent TRA survey, commissioned by BP.

Advertisement

Now the company is trying to encourage drivers to thank each other for courteous behaviour, and has brought out new insights into how it's done in different regions.

Nearly half of all Aucklanders surveyed say they like to use their hazard lights to show appreciation, but only a quarter of Wellingtonians found this a useful way to say thanks.

Instead, 37 per cent of people in the capital opt for a friendly toot of the horn, while only 15 per cent of Aucklanders choose this method.

BP's green thumbs up symbol could be a universal way to thank other drivers. Photo / Supplied
BP's green thumbs up symbol could be a universal way to thank other drivers. Photo / Supplied

The Manawatu-Whanganui region leads the way for sending a thank you wave, with 93 per cent of drivers reporting this was their go-to way to show gratitude.

The survey also showed Waikato people were most likely to go for a quick thumbs up, with 35 per cent of drivers in the area choosing the well-recognised symbol.

Nearly a third of all the people surveyed said they were confused about the best way to show thanks to others on the road.

The research is behind BP's move to release special thank you buttons, a green, light-up symbol that can be placed in the back window of a car as a universal way of thanking another driver.

Registered psychologist Susan Wall said such a simple act as showing or receiving gratitude for courteous driving could have long-lasting effects.

Advertisement

"When we get some sort of recognition from people for something we've done, our brain reacts by releasing some natural chemicals," she said.

It releases dopamine, a "happy drugs", and oxytocin, which encourages a feeling of warmth and connection with other people.

"They leave us feeling more positive towards other people and more happy within ourselves. Then you're going to be more open to repeating that behaviour and being kind to other drivers."

Research showed the chemicals could last in the body for about two hours, meaning drivers could reap the benefits of a kind act throughout the start of their morning.

Thanking other drivers and being thanked set off a positive chemical release in the brain. Photo / Supplied
Thanking other drivers and being thanked set off a positive chemical release in the brain. Photo / Supplied

On the other hand, annoyance on the roads triggered a "caveman" effect in the brain.

Even if someone pushing their way into a lane in rush hour traffic was not particularly dangerous, the brain would still release the stress hormone cortisol and go into a mild fight or flight-type response.

The best option would be to find some way to signal thanks to the other driver, Wall said.

"Psychology research would say it's a winner. It's not going to cost us anything. Being thankful and being thanked add to our wellbeing."