By Laila Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - An estimated 80 percent of U.S. motorists have engaged in aggressive driving, including tailgating, honking and, in extreme cases, ramming other vehicles when angered, according to a study released on Thursday.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety's report projected that about 104 million drivers, or half of those on the road, have followed other vehicles too closely to express their displeasure or frustration. The study includes results of an online survey of 2,705 licensed U.S. drivers aged 16 and older.

A much smaller number, about 8 million, engaged in more extreme and violent driving, or "road rage," including ramming other vehicles, the report said.

“Inconsiderate driving, bad traffic and the daily stresses of life can transform minor frustrations into dangerous road rage,” Jurek Grabowski, the foundation's director of research, said in a statement. “Far too many drivers are losing themselves in the heat of the moment and lashing out in ways that could turn deadly.”

Incidents of aggressive driving, which the report says contributed to the thousands of fatal crashes in the United States each year, appear to be on the rise, according to the foundation.

While the report is the first of its kind released by the American Automobile Association affiliate, it has done anecdotal studies on aggressive driving in the past, using only data taken from news coverage.

The margin of error for statistics derived from all respondents is as wide as plus or minus 2.5 percentage points but larger for questions asked to only a subset of participants, the foundation said.

Male drivers aged 19 to 39 were far more likely to than female and older motorists to drive aggressively. Males also were three times more likely than females to exit their cars to confront other drivers or ram their vehicles into others.

Drivers in the Northeast were more prone to yell, honk or make angry gestures than elsewhere in the country.

Those who reported running red lights or speeding were also more likely to be aggressive behind the wheel.

(Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)