More than half of UK motorists admit to getting into heated rows while in the car, according to new research.

A study of more than 17,000 drivers found that 56 percent confessed to arguing with another occupant of the vehicle, either when they were driving or travelling as a passenger. The AA study also revealed that the most common cause of rows is getting lost.

Of those who admitted to getting into arguments in the car, a third (33 percent) said they had clashed over directions and losing their bearings. Backseat driving — telling the driver how it should be done — was a cause of strife for 29 percent, while running late was the third most common cause, cited by 19 percent.

Couple arguing

Traffic, meanwhile, followed close behind in fourth, cited by 15 percent despite not being under the control of anyone in the vehicle. However, the fifth most common cause had nothing to do with motoring. The study found that 14 percent of drivers who had arguments saw them caused by “life issues” such as moving to a new house.

The study found rows were triggered by a range of issues, including passengers talking during parts of the journey where the driver needed to concentrate. Other triggers included criticising the driver’s ability and “being drunk”, although the AA did not specify whether that was regarding drunk drivers or passengers.

Couple arguing in car

Ending the arguments also took on a range of guises, with the majority using the silent treatment to finish a row. More than two-thirds (68 percent) said they carried on the journey in silence.

Eight percent of those quizzed, meanwhile, pulled over to finish the argument before driving off, while six percent stopped the car and refused to drive any further. And in-car rows seem to have serious consequences, with 110 respondents claiming to have had a near miss as a result, while an additional 100 said an in-car argument had ended their relationship.

Couple arguing about directions in car

“Arguing with someone in a confined space is not a pleasant experience for anyone,” said AA president Edmund King. “When that space is a car and the argument is about how it’s being driven or why you are lost, tensions can rise even faster.

“If you often argue about the same things, such as navigation, then try to plan ahead to mitigate the disagreement – planning your route properly or using a sat nav can help take the pressure off for everyone. If an argument gets out of hand it can be dangerous for the driver. The best thing to do is pull over when it is safe to do so and wait until things have calmed down before driving again.”