Personal Finance Expert
Tyron Jones is a finance expert who has operated within the auto insurance business for more than 10 years. He has written many other finance related articles for a number of prominent publications.
Driving in the United States is one of those skills that inherently improves with experience. Yet, for some, experience leads to more aggressive driving. As a result, car accidents and citations do not provide a clear perspective into the worst drivers.
What some may call a bad driver may actually be a really good driver who drives too well to play by the rules. On top of this, aggressive drivers usually have well-tuned vehicles that stop on a dime, crisp acceleration, and superior handling that allows them to deftly weave in and out of lanes like Evel Knievel. Aggressive drivers may also have eagle eyes that allow them to spot cops well before the radar gun can reach them.
The worst drivers are those who pull out a gun and threaten you when you cut them off. Road rage is a serious problem in urban areas and is more common in high-crime cities like Wilmington, DE, Florida, and California. Gangbangers are truly the worst drivers because they are carrying guns and don't mind showing them off or chasing you down when you disrespect them.
Because it is hard to create statistics for this kind of aggressive driving beyond excessive gas usage, we can only speculate which cities, scientifically speaking, harbor the worst drivers. The worst statistical drivers may be playing by all the rules but a little distracted. They may not be very alert and may be driving vehicles that are not so deft in the corners.
They may not have very good vision to spot those cops hiding in the bushes. In addition, they may be your neighbors who bop around town and occasionally get into a fender-bender when they see some pretty girls walking down the street and have their eyes off the road.
Therefore, we can only look at the statistics and try to figure out where unskilled drivers just aren't hitting the mark. Let's consider the two groups in greater detail, below.
Top Aggressive Drivers*
(*Based on GasBuddy app statistics)
1. Los Angeles, California
Not only is L.A. hot, but it also hosts a lot of gangbangers. The heat and smog are bad enough without the congestion on top of it. This creates a perfect storm for drivers to get irritable. And when those drivers are packing firearms or strung out on drugs, you can bet that the driving will be both aggressive and dangerous. L.A. is in seventh place for the cities where the most accidents occur in the U.S.
L.A. is known as the Gang Capital of America and is home to more than 1,350 feuding gangs. When you consider the high cost of living in L.A., it is easy to see how angry someone can become when showing up late for work can mean the difference between being evicted or having a home. L.A. is also an epicenter for homelessness because the prices for real estate keep rising and making it hard for the bottom classes to keep up. This tension rolls over into the streets and creates really aggressive drivers.
2. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
If you have driven through this area, you know how aggressive the drivers can be. Because Philadelphia is so congested, drivers are anxious to take any inch that they can get. They will slide up along your blind spots and put the pedal to the metal whenever possible. Not only are the drivers in Philly bad, but the pedestrians think that they are protected by invisible tanks. They have absolutely no qualms about jumping right out in front of you and asserting their right of way. Philly also ranks tenth among accidents.
3. Sacramento, California
Another Southern California city that is full of aggressive drivers trying to make time on their commute to L.A. Because the cost of living is so high in this region, you'll find a lot of people racing around with that New Yorker “time is money” mentality. Although it may not be quite as dangerous as L.A. traffic jams, Sacramento gives L.A. a run for its money.
4. Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta is a big city and a big black city. As a result, you have a lot of the young thug culture and a type of urban machismo that makes drivers eager to one-up each other. This type of chest beating and urban bravado is enough to make you rip your hair out. Don't expect to be given the right of way as a courtesy in Atlanta; you have to earn your spot.
5. San Francisco, California
It is no surprise that San Fran is full of edgy drivers. You have a lot of spillover from people who once lived in L.A. and even people who work in L.A. controlling the streets. Once you have developed that aggressive bulldog driver mentality, it is hard to snap back into reality. Although San Francisco drivers may be a little nicer when they cut you off, being traumatized by too many close calls to count on one hand in a single day is a little unnerving.
6. San Diego, California
The greater metropolitan area of L.A. and its surrounding sister cities appears to be a hotbed for aggressive driving. It is intense enough dealing with all the gangbangers in southern California. It seems that many drivers have taken on a hardened approach to driving as a defense mechanism. Passive driving techniques can be seen as a sign of weakness and vulnerability in Southern Cal that can make you a target. This thug city vibe is enough to drive anyone up a wall.
7. Orlando, Florida
Orlando is just getting bad. You have armed gunmen carjacking tourists at the airports. When the beat meets the streets, Orlando is anything but a Disney World. You may encounter some of the most aggressive urban drivers in the world here. This port for drugs, illegal immigration, and socio-economic culture clashes can lead to some hairy incidents. You may regret taking a drive down to the House of Mouse if this is what you encounter off the not so beaten path.
8. Detroit, Michigan
It doesn't get any more ghetto than Detroit. Aside from Chicago and Southern California, where else will you find store cashiers hiding behind bulletproof glass? As a result, the hardened criminal mentality leads to a lot of bravado and heavy pedal action in Detroit. The citizens of Motor City don't just like to waste gas, they like to waste each other with gun violence. If you are adventurous and looking for some road rage encounters, Detroit is not a bad place to start.
9. Austin, Texas
Although road rage isn't being fueled by crack, meth, and an inner-city drug trade here, you will find aggressive drivers throughout Texas and especially in Austin. This may be due to the fact that drivers in Houston are trapped in such gridlock that Austin outshines them when it comes to aggressive maneuvers. If you are ready to experience 80 mph while pacing 3 inches away from the bumpers of the vehicles before you, simply hop in a taxi at the Austin airport. The drivers in Austin must all have upgraded racing brake packages. Yet, every now and then, you'll see a 7 car pile up from this type of aggressive driving when someone slips up and a chain reaction is inevitable.
10. Las Vegas, Nevada
When it comes to Las Vegas, you have to imagine that compulsive gamblers would be among the most aggressive drivers on the roads. Since Las Vegas is the epicenter for gambling in the United States, it attracts a lot of them. And why not gamble with your life by speeding and slamming on the brakes from traffic light to traffic light? It is almost as thrilling as betting 10 grand on the roulette wheel. The “time is money” and high-stakes gambling mentality of Las Vegas is a deadly combination when combined with those complimentary drinks at the poker table.
Most Errant Drivers by Statistics
1. Greer, South Carolina
This small town is a hotbed for car accidents. For some reason, about 33 percent of the 30,000 drivers have been at fault in an accident. The likelihood of getting a speeding ticket here is off the charts.
2. Dover, Delaware
Dover is home to the airforce base of the same name. For this reason, there are a lot of militant police out on the roads. And one of their specialties is undercover operations. This is why the incidence of traffic tickets is over the top in Dover. Just when you think it is safe to loosen up on the pedal, you are pulled over by a Chevy that looks like something your grandma would drive.
3. Omaha, Nebraska
Omaha is another place where it is very common to get into an accident. Blame it on the bad weather and the poor snow management. We can speculate that the size of the city is to blame for the high volume of speeding tickets.
4. Spokane, Washington
Spokane is in the same boat. They don't have the best weather and are full of anxious drivers who'd like to get home a little sooner than later. When you have large sprawling regions of open highway and overzealous police, it is easy to imagine why the drivers in Spokane have such bad driving records.
5. West Jordan, Utah
Apparently, you have some robocops working in West Jordan as well. Drivers here are getting nailed with speeding tickets, 71 percent above the U.S. average. They also tower at 41 percent above the national average for at-fault accidents. This is all just a part of life when you are forced to commute so far away to get anywhere.
6. Littleton, Colorado
We can surmise that the folks in Littleton are also being preyed upon by militant undercover police forces. Colorado has more military personnel than any other state in the country. You are 66 percent more likely to get hit with a speeding ticket in Littleton than other cities in the country.
7. Norfolk, Virginia
Virginia is famous for handing out speeding tickets. You have traffic cops who are trying to scare away the urban element trekking down I-95 from D.C. They wind up moving to other places in Virginia and start the speed trap business. It is 56 percent more likely for Norfolks to wind up with a speeding ticket and jacked up insurance premiums. Perhaps this is justified by the fact that they are 42 percent most likely to get into accidents or to have a cop on the scene whenever they get into a little fender-bender. It is hard to differentiate from the statistics what exactly is behind these increased reports.
Learn More About Specific Cities
It is hard to make sense of some statistics without considering what police are doing to rack up the speeding tickets or ensure accident reports. The most reliable method of determining bad drivers is using applications (like the GasBuddy one) that monitor real-time driving habits and using some common sense about the attitudes of people in a region.