rude driver

Photo: KieferPix/Shutterstock

We’ve all met rude drivers. I clearly remember the beat-up house painter truck that cut me off on an Atlanta highway, with the red-faced, ponytailed guy at the wheel flipping me the bird as he roared past. If we met by accident, I’d have been in a world of hurt.

I always thought Massachusetts and especially Boston had the rudest drivers, but a new survey says no, it’s actually Idaho. Wow, Idaho, I’d have thought they would have vestiges of Midwestern friendliness out there.

I think this Idaho driver falls into the

I think this Idaho driver falls into the "agonizingly slow" category, but at least he appears friendly! (Photo: A. Davey/flickr)

Apparently not. The state has two kinds of drivers — speed demons and people driving agonizingly slow (10 to 15 miles per hour below the speed limit). The fast folk are hugely annoyed by the slow guys, and regularly do what that fellow in Atlanta did to me.

Another Nampa, Idaho, driver who came to no good.

Another Nampa, Idaho, driver who came to no good. (Photo: Roadside Pictures/flickr)

The major complaints people have against other drivers are talking on a cellphone (mentioned by 47 percent in the survey of 2,000 motorists), tailgaiting (37 percent), not signaling turns (35 percent), weaving in and out of lanes (28 percent) and driving too fast (26 percent).

Clearly, there are inter-state rivalries. Just as Sweden, Norway and Finland take potshots at each other, so too do states. Take for example North and South Carolina. Texans take it out on Californians, and also on neighbors Oklahoma, New Mexico and Louisiana. Here are the next nine rudest states (and a district), in descending order:

District of Columbia. A recent transplant from Los Angeles says piloting a car in the district is, like the local politics, “self-serving, abrasive and unsafe.” The city ranks number one in speeding tickets per capita, according to the DriverSide study, and is far down in the Allstate 2014 “America’s Best Drivers” list (198 of 200). Local annoyances: Failing to signal and blinding oncoming drivers with your brights.

Not all New York cabbies are rude. This guy just looks tired.

Not all New York cabbies are rude. This guy just looks tired. (Photo: Jim Pennucci/flickr)

New York. As I’m well-aware by personal experience, everybody in New York is in a hurry, and the well-being of other knights of the road is the furthest thing from their minds. A veteran reports, “How interesting, even the pedestrians are rude. I was just told to *#$%*@ off by a woman pushing her baby carriage through an intersection against the light because I interrupted her texting and emailing.” Local annoyances: Failing to signal, failing to acknowledge another driver’s courtesy, speeding, colorful cursing.

Wyoming. This is one of our least-populated states, so I’d expect minimal rudeness due to lack of actual encounters with other drivers. But in fact the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute reports that Wyoming had the second-highest roadway fatality rate in 2012, second only to North Dakota (another sparsely populated state!) Men’s Health recently gave Cheyenne an “F” for  driving, citing “running red lights, disregarding stop signs, merging without signaling and speeding.” Local annoyance: Reckless driving.

Massachusetts. I knew the Bay State would turn up sooner or later. On that Allstate list, Boston was actually at 199 — below D.C., and Springfield made 197. Worcester was rock bottom, 200 of 200. Judy Crockett, who shared a harrowing ride around Boston with a client, reports she “never stopped shaking her fist at other drivers, spewing insults and profanities, tailgating and rushing lights. It was as if she owned the road and other drivers were trespassing and in her way.” Local annoyances: Tailgating, honking the horn, blocking merges, etc.  

Vermont (a tie with Delaware, below). C’mon, this is the state where they work to consensus on local issues in 200-year-old clapboard meeting houses. They’re rude? You bet. It was number three per capita in speeding tickets as measured in that survey. And it was one of only two states to register an increase in traffic fatalities between 2005 and 2012. It was number one in the greatest increase in fatalities per distance driven. When an electronic radar-controlled sign was installed in Brighton State Park to control speeding, the $3,200 sign was promptly stolen. Local annoyances: Speeding, reckless driving.


Delaware. Sure, register your corporation there but do it by mail — don’t drive there. Michelle Brammer, a Delaware commuter, says tailgating and speeding are horrific in the state. A playground with a 25-mph speed limit reports that the average speed, from drivers glued to their cellphones, is 45 to 50. Local annoyances: Speeding, tailgating.

This photo is captioned,  

This photo is captioned, "This is why I hate New Jersey." (Photo: green.thumbs/flickr)

New Jersey. Another state well known for its rudeness, with “Learn to *#$% drive!” one of the more common epithets. The “Jersey Slide” is cutting across at least two lanes without slowing down. One Jersey driver actually told the state’s story in rhyming couplets: “People who do not use their blinkers/People that will not let you go/People who cut you off on purpose/People who drive too *#$%

Jim Motavalli ( @jmotavalli ) writes about cars, technology and the environmental world to anyone curious enough to ask.

America's rudest drivers are ... in Idaho?
Everyone assumes that wild and wooly New Jersey, Massachusetts and New York have this nailed, but not so!