Nearly 50% of surveyed American drivers say they were on the receiving end of rude gestures and verbal abuse in the past year.

That topped a list of anti-social driving behaviors, ranging from persistent flashing of headlights to physical assault, although only 2% of motorists surveyed by the research firm Synovate say they were in incidents where confrontations got ugly and someone physically got out of a car.

“Increasingly this is all about space,” says Scott Miller of Synovate Motoresearch. “Let's just say that drivers get very emotional when their personal space is threatened.”

He adds, “What's interesting is how few actually get out of the car to settle things on the spot. It appears they are also only comfortable or brave enough to make those gestures from within that protected space.”

Overall, America's roads seem neighborly compared to elsewhere. South African drivers led everyone in being constantly blinded by flashing headlights (64%) and in experiencing aggressive and threatening behavior (67%).

Meanwhile 14% of drivers in India claim they had been physically assaulted or were at the receiving end of a weapon wielded by other drivers in the last 12 months.