Most truckers agree that driver behavior has changed in the last few years. The pandemic seems to have put everyone on edge, and anyone who has been driving long enough has felt like the lone sane driver in a sea of maniacs. The problem is that most drivers tend to overestimate their own driving ability. In one study, 70.1% of motorists reported that they were better-than-average drivers, which is a statistical improbability. Car accidents and drunk driving fatalities alone would support this finding.
You only need to look no further than social media to see who the main offenders are, with the deadly “brake check” featuring prominently followed by drivers changing lanes claiming not to have seen an 18-wheeler right next to them! This is one of the main reasons most professional long-haul truckers have dashcams installed.
There’s also the impact of legalized marijuana on driver behavior and accidents. According to the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, in 2022, the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana was associated with a 6.5% increase in injury crash rates and a 2.3% increase in fatal crash rates. Still, the subsequent onset of retail marijuana sales did not elicit additional substantial changes. Thus, the combined effect of legalization and retail sales was a 5.8% increase in injury crash rates and a 4.1% increase in fatal crashes. Across states, the effects on injury crash rates ranged from a 7% decrease to an 18% increase. The effects on fatal crash rates ranged from a 10% decrease to a 4% increase.
So which states have the worst drivers?
Used car company The Clunker Junker, conducted a study last year to determine which cities and states are home to the worst drivers. They reviewed over 250,000 tweets from across the U.S. to reveal where drivers have the most negative things to say about fellow motorists. Driving-related tweets from across the country containing the word “drivers,” followed by each state’s name (or demonym) were studied along with the top 100 cities in the U.S. and a list of the top car brand names.
For the data scientists among us, the company analyzed the sentiment of each tweet using an AI algorithm from HuggingFace. It ranked states, cities, and car brands based on the percentage of driving-related tweets with a negative sentiment.
And the winners are
- The state with the worst drivers is Rhode Island. On Twitter, 71.0% of tweets about the Ocean State are negative.
- Many of the states with the worst driver reputations have fast-growing populations and increasing traffic congestion. In 6 of the ten states with the worst driver reputations, the average travel time to work grew faster than the U.S. average from 2016 to 2020.
- Most of the 20 cities with the worst driver reputations are in the Sun Belt states of Arizona, Texas, Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia.
- Urban traffic congestion may increase the negative perception of other drivers. Houston and Miami rank as having the 8th most hours lost due to traffic congestion of any city and rank as having the 3rd and 4th worst drivers.
- Luxury sports car brands like BMW, Maserati, Lamborghini, and Mercedes have some of the worst driver reputations.
Drivers In Congested Cities Have Worse Attitudes
While large, dense Northeastern metropolises like New York and Boston are stereotyped for having rude drivers, many of the cities with the worst drivers, according to Twitter, are in the Sun Belt. Drivers in cities in Sun Belt states like Arizona, Texas, and Florida have the lowest opinion of their fellow motorists, with more than 65% of driving-related tweets containing negative sentiment.
BMW Drivers Have the Worst Reputation
What does your car say about you? Car brands have personalities embodied by the people who drive them. In a study by YouGov measuring personality traits associated with car brands, for example, BMW owners were most likely to identify as knowledgeable, Mercedes owners as adventurous, and Dodge owners as bighearted.
In the eyes of others, however, car brands are often associated with negative traits. According to sentiment analysis from HuggingFace, 58.0% of tweets about BMW drivers are negative, the most of any car brand. One particular negative stereotype about the brand – that BMW drivers don’t use their turn signals – is so prevalent that in June 2022, the automaker tweeted from its official account encouraging drivers to use their blinkers. Sentiment analysis shows that 51.1% of tweets about Maserati, for example, are negative – the fifth largest share of any car brand. Other luxury sports car brands with negative reputations include Lamborghini and Mercedes.
You’re Not In Traffic; You Are Traffic
So next time you tweet about how fast or slow the car in front of you is going, just remember the car behind you may be doing the same thing. So next time you get cut off or someone fails to signal, ask yourself – are these the worst drivers in the country? And you may have an answer.
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