‘Carguments’ rife as 36% admit to falling out behind the wheel


As Britain continues to swelter in this summer’s heat, new research conducted by RAC Insurance has revealed that temperatures are also likely to be soaring inside the car, with one in three drivers admitting to having ‘carguments’.

Statistically speaking, however, the chances of arguing in the car rise dramatically if the driver happens to be from London, is aged between 25 and 44 and is heading off for a day out with their partner. Conversely, the least likely to get hot under the collar behind the wheel are drivers in their 70s from Wales.

Overall 36% of the 2,000 motorists questioned by RAC Insurance* owned up to being ‘carguers’, but this figure increases to a shocking 50% for those aged 25-44 and to 46% for those living in London. Away from the capital, motorists in Scotland are the next most argumentative with 43% of drivers claiming they regularly have disagreements in the car.

The people least like to have ‘carguments’ are those aged over 70 with only 25% of drivers of this age saying they do so, and those of any age living in Wales – 27%.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the most car tension occurs between partners, although there is a clear difference of opinion between men and women over who argues more: nearly three-quarter of men (73%) say they have ‘carguments’ with partners whereas only 66% of women say they do. The ‘gender disagreement’ figure is most marked in men and women over the age of 70 with nine in 10 men (90%) saying they argue with their partners in stark contrast to just half of women (50%) … clearly all that time together hasn’t led to harmony in all things.

The top time for a ‘cargument’ is when setting off on a day out – something particularly popular at the moment given the school holidays – with more than a quarter (26%) of drivers surveyed by RAC Insurance admitted to. Taking a trip to see family is also likely to spark a row with 24% saying this happens to them. Just over a fifth (22%) said setting off on holiday causes temperatures in the car to rise while a similar percentage cited ‘other’ reasons. The fifth most common cause of an in-car conflicts was a simple trip to the shops (21%).

As for the subject of arguments between partners in the car, the most commonly cited topic (46%) was ‘not knowing which way to go’. The second most popular reason for a row on the road was the standard of ‘my driving’ (39%), with 42% of men saying this had caused friction with their partners in contrast to a third (34%) of women who said the same. The choice of route was the third most common cause of car conflict with 36% saying this had led to sparks flying.

Asked why they thought arguments occur in the car 42% said driving is stressful and can lead to people getting angry. A fifth (22%) blamed it on getting agitated in a confined environment and a similar percentage (21%) thought it was to do with everyone getting stressed as a result of rushing to get into the car.

The best way – or should that be: the most popular way – of dealing with ‘carguments’ is to change the subject (65%) whereas for 59% a simpler approach is to stop talking altogether. However, for three in 10 (29%) the situation is best dealt with by the tried and tested gambit of threatening to abort the journey and go home.

RAC Insurance spokesman Simon Williams said: “The stress of leaving on time for a summer holiday or a day out together with the confined environment of a car must be the perfect recipe for an argument. Add children into the equation, or perhaps a visit to the in-laws and it’s not so much a question of if an argument will start but when. And then there’s those driving hundreds of miles to Europe who have even longer in the car to fall out.

“It’s also amusing to see that despite the fact we live in the era of the sat-nav, directions and choice of route still give rise to plenty of in-car acrimony.

“And it can only be described as ironic that the sexes even disagreed in our survey about who causes ‘carguments’.

“Driving is a complex task that requires the driver’s full attention in order to get from A to B without incident, but our research has revealed – rather worryingly – that a large proportion admit to having in-car arguments”.

If you’re worried about keeping the kids amused on a roadtrip this summer then check out the RAC’s top 10 list of apps to entertain the children on a car journey.