Risky Road Etiquette: States with the Rudest Drivers
Rude drivers aren’t just pains in the neck during your daily commute. They also can be major safety threats to everyone on the road.
For many, the experience of driving creates a feeling of anonymity. Protected inside the pod-like confines of our car, we may begin viewing the world outside as an observer, rather than as a participant. This detachment can embolden drivers to behave more aggressively or impolitely towards other drivers than they would in another social situation.
Unfortunately, rude driving behavior and aggression towards other drivers are ubiquitous in America. A staggering 80 percent of all drivers in the United States reported at least one incident of significant aggression, anger, or road rage towards another driver over a one-year period, according to a recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
While drivers may not feel particularly accountable for behaving impolitely towards others, some forms of rude driving behavior can be extremely dangerous. Honking to express annoyance may be one thing, but it’s quite another to angrily tailgate a car, truck, or motorcycle, or to run a red light in utter disregard of oncoming traffic.
The data scientists at Insurify, an insurance quotes comparison website, were eager to investigate patterns in rude driving behavior that are on the more dangerous (and illegal) end of the spectrum. Curious to find whether there are regional differences in these extreme behaviors, Insurify’s data scientists turned to their database and ranked each state based on its share of ill-behaved drivers.
- How rude are America’s drivers, on average? An average of 29.6 per 1,000 drivers were cited for one or more infractions categorized as “rude.” The most polite states were Kentucky, Mississippi, and Vermont, each with between 10 and 17 drivers per 1,000 cited for one or more rude driving behaviors.
- Seeing red… and driving right through it: Failure to stop for a red light is the most common offense in rude drivers across the United States. On the other hand, street racing is the least common and occurs 90 percent less frequently.
- Regional differences: Across America, states with the highest proportions of these incredibly rude drivers tend not to be clustered in one particular region of the country. The rudest states are evenly spread from East to West, with the exception of Southwestern states.
- More police officers, more citations? Not according to the data. Using data from the FBI and Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Insurify’s data scientists calculated the correlation between the density of police officers in each state and citation rates for these rude driving behaviors. They found that a higher proportion of police officers to drivers does not correspond with a higher proportion of drivers receiving citations for any of these rude driving behaviors.
In order to determine the states with the rudest drivers, the data science team at Insurify, referred to its database of over 2 million insurance applications.
Drivers disclose information such as their age and driving history, including past accidents and driving infractions. Insurify’s data scientists classified the following driving violations as the most extreme forms of rude driving: failure to yield violations (failure to yield the right of way, failure to yield to a pedestrian), failure to stop violations (failure to stop for a red light, school bus, or stop sign), improper backing, passing where prohibited, tailgating, street racing, and hit-and-runs.
For each state, Insurify’s data scientists calculated the proportion of drivers with one or more of these violations on their record. The states with the highest proportion of those drivers were ranked as the states with the rudest drivers.
The 10 States with the Rudest Drivers
- Drivers cited for rude driving behavior: 38.9 out of 1,000
Wisconsin ranks tenth in the nation for the rudest drivers. Failure to yield the right of way and passing violations are both significantly higher than the national average in Wisconsin: drivers in the Badger State are 2.16 times more likely than average to commit a failure to yield violation and 98.4 percent more likely to commit a passing violation. Rates of tailgating and hit-and-runs in Wisconsin are also high, at 50.7 and 44.4 percent higher than the national average, respectively.
- Drivers cited for rude driving behavior: 39.1 out of 1,000
In spite of its reputation as an island paradise with a more relaxed pace of living than the continental states, Hawaii has some of the rudest drivers. Pedestrians, in particular, should beware of rude drivers in the Aloha State, as Hawaii sees more than twice as many citations for failing to yield the right of way to a pedestrian. It seems that Hawaiian drivers seem much more interested in getting to their destination than treating crossing pedestrians courteously (or lawfully). Tailgating in Hawaii also occurs frequently—50 percent more often, in fact, than the national average.
- Drivers cited for rude driving behavior: 40.4 out of 1,000
Iowa has the eighth-rudest drivers in the nation, according to our analysis. In particular, Iowan drivers commit hit-and-runs at very high rates. Hit-and-runs in Iowa are 2.98 times more frequent than the national average. Failure to stop for a red light and failure to yield the right of way also occur frequently among Iowan drivers, at 68.3 and 29.7 percent higher than average, respectively. Yet, tailgating in Iowa occurs 64 percent less frequently than average.
- Drivers cited for rude driving behavior: 40.5 out of 1,000
Seventh in the nation for the rudest drivers, Delaware is home to a significant proportion of drivers who engage in improper passing (58.6 percent more frequently than the national average), and running reds (54.7 percent higher than the national average). This may not be surprising to Delawareans, given that the AAA Mid-Atlantic found that arrests related to aggressive driving, including many of the rude driving behaviors identified in the present study, have increased nearly 10 percent from 2014 to 2019.
- Drivers cited for rude driving behavior: 41.1 out of 1,000
Drivers in Ohio are some of the rudest in the nation. In particular, Ohioan drivers are much less likely to own up to an accident than drivers from other states: hit-and-run violations occur 2.14 times more frequently in Ohio than average. Tailgating and failure to yield violations also occur more frequently than average in the Buckeye State, with this violation occurring 68.3 percent and 58.7 percent more frequently than the national average, respectively.
- Drivers cited for rude driving behavior: 41.4 out of 1,000
Ranked fifth in the country for the rudest drivers, Georgia has a particularly bad case of tailgating. Tailgating citations are 3.25 times more frequent in the Peach State than the national average. Failure to yield the right of way and passing violations are more common than average in Georgia, at 84.0 and 64.7 percent higher than the national average, respectively.
4. New York
- Drivers cited for rude driving behavior: 42.6 out of 1,000
We weren’t surprised to find New York on this list. New Yorkers are especially negligent when it comes to ensuring pedestrian safety; drivers in the Empire State fail to yield the right of way to pedestrians 6.15 times more often than the national average. New York drivers also tend to blow through red lights relatively frequently, with 47 percent more drivers receiving a citation for running a red light than the national average.
- Drivers cited for rude driving behavior: 45.9 out of 1,000
Wyoming has the third-rudest drivers in the nation, with 45.9 out of every 1,000 drivers engaging in the most extreme rude driving behaviors. Drivers in Wyoming have some of the highest rates of hit-and-runs in America; these violations occur 3.6 times more often than the national average. Failure to yield to a pedestrian is also a significant problem in Wyoming, occurring 72.90 percent more often than the national average. Tailgating and failure to yield the right of way occur significantly more frequently than average in the Cowboy State, with drivers in this state committing these offenses 37.8 and 32.1 percent more often than the national average, respectively.
- Drivers cited for rude driving behavior: 47.5 out of 1,000
Ranking number two on the list is Idaho, with the second-highest share of rude drivers in the nation. Rates of tailgating are incredibly high in this state, at 4.89 times the national average. Failure to yield violations are also much more common in this state than in others; drivers in the Gem State are 2.6 times as likely than average to commit a failure to yield to a pedestrian violation and 2.07 times as likely to fail to yield the right of way to another driver.
- Drivers cited for rude driving behavior: 48.5 out of 1,000
Virginia is the state with the rudest drivers, according to Insurify’s analysis. With 64 percent more rude drivers than the national average, this should come as no surprise. Rates of tailgating are much higher than in other states, at 2.44 times the national average. Hit-and-runs, some of the most egregious driver behavior, occur 2.06 times as frequently in Virginia than in the average state. In addition, Virginian drivers fail to yield the right of way to other drivers more than twice as frequently than in other states. Failure to yield the right of way to pedestrians and failure to stop for a red light are also particularly frequent, at 32.1 percent and 22.8 percent higher than the national average, respectively.
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