Aggressive behaviour on the roads is increasing, according to the findings of an annual survey of drivers.

The AA Insurance Drivers Index, which surveyed 3708 New Zealand drivers aged 18-65, found both men and women reporting an increase in aggression on the roads, compared with last year's survey results.

Some 54 per cent of men said that they had gestured rudely or yelled at another motorist who had done something they regarded as dangerous or rude, compared with 49 per cent of women.

Almost a quarter of men surveyed (24 per cent) said they had tailgated another motorist out of anger, compared with 17 per cent of women.

However, the survey also revealed some self-awareness about driving attitudes; with 25 per cent of both men and women identifying themselves as impatient drivers.

"Aggressive driving can occur when drivers are put under pressure, either from the immediate driving environment or personal stress," said AA Insurance deputy general manager Martin Fox.

"However, it is up to individual motorists to recognise when they're feeling stressed and to take particular care behind the wheel so that increased stress levels don't result in safety risks."

There was a clear gender split on attitudes toward speeding and motivations for not speeding.

Women said they were significantly more motivated by safety, while men were twice as motivated as women by the legal system of demerit points.

While both genders are guilty of knowingly exceeding the speed limit, 40 per cent of men said they did so at least half the time, compared with 32 per cent of women.

AA Insurance said part of the reason men were more likely to have a serious accident was that they spent more time behind the wheel.

Some 82 per cent of men said they were the main driver in their household around town, compared with 77 per cent of women.

However, 94 per cent of men said they did most of the long-distance driving, compared with only 42 per cent of women.

As a result significantly more men than women have had accidents on the open road.

When it came to self confidence men clearly had the edge, with 75 per cent of men surveyed believing they had the expertise to teach someone else to drive, compared with only 60 per cent of women.

A spokeswoman for police national headquarters said the organisation did not keep statistics on road rage incidents which ended up in court as assault cases.

She had no further comment to make on the survey findings.

- NZPA