By Jeffrey Steele
September 15, 2014 5:05 PM
Call it brusque, boorish or downright barbaric. Whatever you call it, weaving in and out of traffic, laying on the horn and saluting with an upright digit is universally regarded as rude.
So who is most guilty of this offensive behavior?
We found that roadway rudeness reaches its zenith in the following 10 states.
10. Utah: The amazing race
Recent Utah resident Matt Stubbs says it appears the state’s motorists are all in a race. “But nobody knows where it ends or how to get to the finish,” he adds. “So everyone drives 5, 10 or 15 miles per hour over the speed limit.
“They tend not to signal, because they wouldn’t want anyone to know their next move. They don’t let people merge. They just keep looking straight ahead and pretending not to see that car trying to squeeze in next," says Stubbs.
9. Nevada: Betting on red
Nevada resident Kay Stewart moved to Las Vegas almost nine years ago, after living everywhere from Seattle to Miami, and Southern California to New Hampshire. “When I first moved here, I told my husband, 'It’s not a matter of if we get in an accident here. It’s a matter of when we get in an accident here.’”
Reason: The motoring in Glitter Gulch isn‘t just inconsiderate, “it’s more than rude, it’s really dangerous,” Stewart reports. “You have to be totally on the defensive [when] driving here. You see accidents almost every time you go out. The worst thing that Las Vegas is guilty of is that you just know that whenever there is a light or a left-turn signal, there will be at least two or three cars going through the red. And there are always those folks, no matter where you drive on the freeway, who will be darting in and out just to get one more space ahead.
“Rude seems almost too pleasant a word to describe it.”
8. New Jersey: Sliding home
Lifelong New Jersey resident Jason Fischbach says, ”People in our state love to try and pull onto the road with far less space than they should. And then there’s the ‘Jersey Slide’: cutting across two or more lanes with the same blinker – if they use one at all. My girlfriend’s favorite phrase is, ‘Learn to [expletive] drive!’ which she learned from an aunt who [nonetheless] loves to text, email and Facebook while on the road.”
Kerri Kochanski moved to Pennsylvania from New Jersey but still considers herself a “Jersey driver.” One day she grew so irritated by another Jersey driver who cut her off on Route 202 that she decided to write a book. Published last October, Kochanski’s summary of "1,001 People That Suck" contains a chapter on “People That Suck: On the Road.” It includes a rhyming list of common New Jersey driving offenses: “People that do not use their blinkers, people that will not let you go, people that cut you off on purpose, people that drive too freaking slow!”
New Jersey drivers also suffer through high insurance premiums. The state ranks No. 9 on Insure.com's 2014 study of car insurance rates by state.
6. Delaware: Slowing down for no one (tie)
Michelle Brammer, a resident of Bear, Delaware, commutes to nearby Middletown, about nine miles away. “When doing the speed limit, I should not have to wonder about the make of a vehicle behind me, due to the fact the car is tailgating me so horrifically I cannot even see its hood!” she exclaims.
Speed is also “a huge issue,” she reports, and not just on highways but in neighborhoods. Brammer’s neighborhood is filled with playgrounds and children. Despite the 25 mph speed limit and presence of kids, residents travel 45 to 50 mph down the main thoroughfare, often glued to their cellphones.
“And they flip off residents who signal them to slow down,” she notes.
6. Vermont: Trying to keep it a secret (tie)
In Brighton, Vermont, when residents complained about inconsiderate drivers rocketing toward Brighton State Park, the police department installed an electronic radar-controlled sign telling drivers how fast they are going. Before it could even be insured, the $3,200 sign was stolen.
The sign was last seen in town on Sept. 2.
The need for such a sign is evident in numbers from DriverSide.com, which in a 2010 study tagged the Green Mountain State as No. 3 in the nation for speeding tickets issued per capita.
That tendency toward excessive speed likely contributed to two other statistics. The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute reported that according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Vermont was one of only two states (the other North Dakota, where the population soared during the same period) to register an increase in the number of traffic fatalities between 2005 and 2012. The same study found Vermont ranked No. 1 in the greatest increase in fatalities per distance driven of any state over the same period.
5. Massachusetts: Owning it
While other states may try to deny or downplay their rudeness, Massachusetts drivers embrace it, as evidenced by their “Masshole” bumper stickers.
In Allstate’s 2014 “America’s Best Drivers” report, three Massachusetts cities duked it out with Washington, D.C., for the bottom spots among 200 cities: Springfield (197), Boston (199) and Worcester (200).
“Massachusetts has the rudest drivers I have ever encountered,” says Judy Crockett, who owns a Michigan-based marketing and communication firm and frequently travels to Massachusetts. “I rode in the car with one of my clients, and 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.”
She also observes that “in Massachusetts, drivers go out of their way to block any opportunity for you to merge.
In Boston, motorcyclist Brad Hines says the driving habits make him sick. “In one ride, I saw about eight on their cellphones, two people eating, a lady checking makeup and a dude on an iPad smoking a cigar, all oblivious to me.”
4. Wyoming: The cowboy chronicles
Wyoming’s nickname, “The Cowboy State,” hints at why it might be considered among the rudest. Cowboys, after all, have never been especially known for decorum.
In fact, according to Dictionary.com, one of the definitions of cowboy is: “a reckless or irresponsible person, especially a show-off or one who undertakes a dangerous or sensitive task heedlessly.”
Consider this: Wyoming ranks No. 2 for roadway fatalities involving pickup trucks and SUVs (45 percent), with North Dakota at No. 1.
A few years back, as reported in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, Men’s Health magazine gave drivers in Cheyenne an “F” for quality of driving. The newspaper reported that “running red lights, disregarding stop signs, merging without signaling and speeding are some common traffic problems that lead to auto accidents.”
3. New York: Beware the Bagadonuts
On Staten Island, 41-year-old Steven Lowell has never had an accident, but his fellow motorists – and even pedestrians -- appear intent on sullying his track record.
“I’m trying to figure out if that woman talking on her cell and smoking a cigarette is going to run a stop sign,” he reports while driving. “Good thing she did 75 miles an hour up to the stop sign and then flipped me off for not letting her go.”
New Yorker Debi Tracy recently had to put up with motorists on the Long Island Expressway screaming at her to get off the road. The problem? Her vehicle, the third car in a four-car accident, had just been totaled.
“I would have loved to have been able to move my car,” she says sarcastically. ”But I was heading off to the hospital in an ambulance.”
When asked what makes them most mad about other drivers, people said:
Talking on a cellphone while driving – 47%
Tailgating – 37%
Not signaling turns – 35%
Weaving in and out of lanes – 28%
Driving too fast, like every road is a highway – 26%
Source: Insure.com. Respondents could choose more than one answer from 18 choices.
2. District of Columbia: Self-serving
It looks like many people are late to their Congressional hearings: The Driverside study ranked Washington, D.C., as No. 1 in speeding tickets per capita. In Allstate’s 2014 “America’s Best Drivers” report, Washington, D.C., could muster a ranking of only 198 out of 200.
1. Idaho: Wait for it
The roadways of Idaho present a dichotomy of drivers: Those who are moving so slowly that they’re judged to be rude, and the aggressive drivers who speed around them and flip them off. Together, with their opposite yet equally vexing styles of driving, they push Idaho to the top of the rankings.
This creates additional tension when fast drivers are added to the mix. Idaho resident Eric Leins, a Southern California native, points to the state’s mountainous, rural areas as a source of driver conflict. Those familiar with certain roads may not be very patient with drivers new to the twisting, turning roadways.