Are Utah drivers really the worst?

ST. GEORGE – Whether it’s how a person was taught, what they were taught, common sense or lack thereof, statistics suggest some areas of the United States inherently beget more cautious motor vehicle operators, while others tend to breed some of the most accident-prone drivers on the road.

Unfortunately, no matter how cautious one drives, the likelihood of getting into an accident often depends upon the driving – carefulness or recklessness – of other motorists.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an alarming 33,500 fatalities occur on U.S. roadways each year and, no matter where you live, it seems people are always complaining about the drivers in the area. But, statistically speaking, where does Utah rank in the nation’s safest drivers?

Safety first

While its neighboring state Nevada ranked as the least safe state to live in, Utah is ranked No. 11 on the list of safest states to live in, according to an analysis done by WalletHub personal finance. But what some may find most surprising is Utah is ranked as the third safest state for driving safety, according to the same analysis.

To calculate each state’s driving safety, the analysis, released in June of this year, used the following data:

  • Fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel
  • Number of “under the influence” traffic violations per capita
  • Pedestrian and pedacyclist fatality rate per capita

To identify the safest states to live, WalletHub looked at financial, driving, workplace, home and community safety, along with natural disasters.

The best, not so simply 

According to a survey published by, Utah has the second best drivers in the country. Using statistics primarily from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the survey scored every state on the quality of their drivers.

The only state to have better drivers than Utah, according to the survey, is Vermont. Reportedly the worst state to drive in is Louisiana.

More specifically, the analysis broke it down further. The ranking system was broken down into five categories. Each particular category ranks all 50 states plus the District of Columbia — from worst to best.  These individual categories were then averaged out and an overall list was created.

  • Drunk driving: Utah ranked as having the lowest percentage of alcohol-impaired vehicle crash fatalities reported by the NHTSA. In 2012, only 16 percent of Utah’s total vehicle crash fatalities were due to alcohol impairment. The national average in 2012 was 31 percent.
  • Failure to obey: Only 12 states beat Utah in the “failure to obey traffic signals and seat belts” category. Utah ranked as one of the states with the fewest accidents caused by violations such as running lights, running stop signs, and not wearing seat-belts, as recorded by the NHTSA.
  • Fatality rate: Utah also scored well on its overall fatality rate. There were only 13 states that had a lower fatality rate than Utah. Massachusetts, had the lowest with 0.62 and Montana had the highest with 1.79 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles travelled. Utah’s fatality rate in 2012 was 0.92 fatalities per 100 million miles traveled, according to NHTSA statistics.
  • Careless driving: Utah’s worst ranking was in careless driving – ranked No. 23. The survey again used NHTSA statistics to rank states in this category, using two statistics to come to this conclusion: the percentage of pedestrians who were killed by motor vehicles in each state and the same for pedacyclists who are killed by motor vehicles.
  • Tickets: Utah ranked as the 20th most likely state to issue its drivers a traffic ticket. This was based on an NMA study that used a public Google tool. This Google tool shows search trends in particular geographical areas across the U.S. According to the study, Utah’s neighbor, Nevada is the most likely state in the country to issue drivers a ticket.

Attitude on the asphalt

While other studies rank Utah as one of the safest states to drive, another study ranks Utah in the top 10 states having the rudest drivers. However, this time the survey methodology was slightly more opinion-based.

Utah resident Matt Stubbs told it appears Utah’s motorists are all in a race, but nobody knows where it ends or how to get to the finish. Besides speeding, Utah drivers are also criticized in the survey for not signaling or allowing others to merge.

According to the survey, fielded in July of this year, Utah comes in at No. 10 on the list of rudest drivers:

9. Nevada
8. New Jersey
7. Delaware
6. Vermont
5. Massachusetts
4. Wyoming
3. New York
2. District of Columbia
1. Idaho commissioned a survey of 2,000 licensed drivers, half women and half men, with respondents representing all areas of the country according to Census population data. The state rankings were calculated using a ratio of the nationwide votes for drivers of the state divided by the number of respondents from the state. also analyzed the results to determine who dislikes whom the most. According to the site, California drivers are the biggest haters: They are the No. 1 haters of drivers from surrounding states and even from states across the country. Californians hate New York drivers more than New Jersey drivers do, according to the site.

“Drivers from the Golden State have dark thoughts about drivers from Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Texas, Utah and even Vermont,” according to


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Twitter: @STGnews

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  • Missy December 2, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    Lol!! I don’t need a study to know this!! I’ve had my worst driving experiences in Utah and Colorado. California was the most considerate.

  • ladybugavenger December 2, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    Just Washington County….dang roundabouts, stop signs, and traffic lights

    • Nano December 22, 2014 at 7:56 pm

      Ditto, Ladybugavenger. Don’t forget, most cars in Washington County don’t seem to come with turn signals… I had exactly the same accident on Bluff & 100 S. Totalled my car. I doubt that survey would do as well if it was just covering Washington County, specifically St. George. I’ve driven in just about all the western states, lived in Calif for 40+ years. St George drivers are among the worst.

  • modigliani December 2, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    The most telling statistic is the rudeness scale. Interesting that Idaho is right at the top of the list. It’s the rudeness, which sometimes builds to rage, that makes drivers from other states crazy here. When you’re used to driving with people who graciously merge, slow for cars ahead, don’t dart in and out of traffic, tailgate or blow past you in a 40 mile an hour zone, yahoo rules of the road are really something.

  • hummynbyrd December 2, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    The worst habit is not signaling and even worse…not pulling over for emergency, fire, and police vehicles. You can tell the people that are not locals, they are the ones that DO obey these laws. Hopefully the younger generation is learning to drive less “rudely”.

    • Aaron J December 3, 2014 at 5:06 am

      oh man! Someone has been land locked in St. George too long. Ever do much driving in NYC where red lights are more of a…well….guideline, or Hawaii where emergency vehicles come second to everyone else, or oh my heck, ever try to drive anywhere without losing your mind in LA??? In comparison to other places I’d choose Saint George driving over them all.

      • Koolaid December 3, 2014 at 3:11 pm

        The population of either New York City or Los Angeles is probably more than triple that of the entire state of Utah. Ridiculous comparison. I’ve driven in Paris, France (metropolitan area of 12 million), and my driving experience there was much better than with the hazardous drivers of St George. …Oh my heck…

      • modigliani December 3, 2014 at 5:01 pm

        So let’s compare apples with apples…those of us who’ve driven in similar sized places can attest that St. George drivers are the worst. Just had it happen today on Sunset – completely clear lane behind me, but the driver just had to pull out in front of me, couldn’t wait for the clear space. And this driver was not an old person.

        And a couple of hours later on Dixie Drive, guy tailgating me when I was driving the 40mph speed…also not an old person. Not a teen-ager either, for that matter. It’s the “Outta my way!” attitude drives me nuts.

  • PROTECT THE SHEEP December 2, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    Yeah Idaho and Colorado are both bad. Nevadans drive rude as hell but not quite as ditsy as locals here… The problem w stg driver’s is that they drive with their heads in the clouds thinking about church obligations or racing to one of the 13 kids soccer practice with total disregard for other drivers. If not that they’re twiddling with a iphone or putting on makeup…

  • Joanna December 2, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    Anyone who thinks Utah is even close to the worst has never driven anywhere else. Driving here is a delight compared to most places.

    • Zonkerb December 3, 2014 at 4:06 am

      We were in Manila for 18 months LOL you want to see some unusual driving LOL

      • My Evil Twin December 22, 2014 at 8:41 pm

        Who are you kidding? You aren’t even 18 months old.

  • Zonkerb December 3, 2014 at 4:01 am

    I want to see more roundabouts

  • Missy December 3, 2014 at 5:57 am

    Lol!! I’ve driven all over the country and Utah, Colorado are the worst I’ve seen.

  • InShock December 3, 2014 at 5:58 am

    1. Bluff St. and River Rd. were not meant to handle the traffic.
    2. Some elderly drivers cannot turn their necks. So they just don’t check out their surroundings when backing up, merging, etc.
    3. As a pedestrian, I am tired of people almost running me over, they are in such a hurry.

  • Koolaid December 3, 2014 at 7:52 am

    Police are too busy running profile stops and staking out dance parties to ticket the frequent offenders of traffic violations. Every day you see motorists running lights, blocking intersections, stopped on crosswalks, not yielding to pedestrians and other violations, often is view of police.

    • Koolaid December 3, 2014 at 9:10 am

      During peak traffic on St George Blvd, you often see every intersection of St George Blvd blocked by vehicles stopped in the intersection from 700E to 1100E. Even when it’s obvious that traffic is stopped, you’ll see motorists still pull into the intersection and stop, thus blocking drivers at the crossing streets and preventing others from turning onto those streets.

  • Big BlackRig driver December 3, 2014 at 8:16 am

    Utah has the best drivers, they do have some young folks as well as older folks that can be a problem. But not alt of minority unlicensed and uninsured like most states. I have watched as cars have wrecked the occupants run. As for the person makeing the last stupid comment they appear to either be a movie in, a troll, or a stupid troll that’s moved in to here.

  • Billy Madison December 3, 2014 at 8:20 am

    I learnt how to drive a tractor & haywagon at age 9, pickup truck age 10, and motorcycle age 12. Driver’s education was a breeze. Ben in 22 accidents, most of them not even my fault. I don’t signal cause it’s nobody’s businesss where I’m going.

    • modigliani December 3, 2014 at 9:49 am

      Oh, Billy, you made me laugh this morning. “..nobody’s business where I’m going.” Reminds me of the old joke about the hillbilly who turned left on a mountain road and caused a pileup. No signal. When he was asked why he didn’t signal he said, Why should I signal? Everybody knows where I live.” I’ll bet a few of those 22 accidents, maybe most of them, were your fault. Come on, Billy, own up. Don’t be shy.

  • Wow December 3, 2014 at 8:41 am

    I think the biggest thing in STG is all the elderly people. Studies are showing more and more old people are causing a greater amount of wrecks. We need to do driving tests after age 75. Teenagers have to do it. They are more wreck less, but very aware. Comple opposite with the elderly

    • Koolaid December 3, 2014 at 9:12 am

      Page 5 of Utah Drivers Handbook does not support your claim.

      • Nano December 22, 2014 at 8:09 pm

        When my husband & I moved to Ut in 2003, we studyed the DMV handbook, went to take the test, and we each were handed a copy of same.. I guess I looked puzzled. The clerk said “It’s an open book test.” HUH? So if you didn’t know the answer, just look it up. The 4th state I’ve had a license, and that was a first! Also the persons testing could talk to each other, ask questions regarding test questions, etc. I finished my test first, and was able to help my husband with his! Never had that happen before, either.

  • sagemoon December 3, 2014 at 10:41 am

    I can’t believe Arizona isn’t on the list. There are some horrible drivers coming out of Arizona.

  • Scared December 3, 2014 at 11:13 am

    I’ve been in 2 accidents one major one minor the minor one was at a stop light near mountain america I was in the cross walk and the guy decides he wants to pull out all I got was a bruised shin and a broken axil on my bike. The other one was by the outlet mall same thing guy decides he wants to pull out and I only have 2 seconds to react had I had another second or two I would have made it anyway I clipped the guys bumper and had a nice road rash and a bruised rib

  • The Rest Of The Story December 3, 2014 at 11:20 am

    I have observed a general lack of defensive driving skills in Utah. Whether these skills are simply not taught here, or whether people don’t acquire them because of apathy, I don’t know.

    I’ve ridden with a couple of people who start every trip with a prayer for “Heavenly Father’s” protection while they drive. Then they have proceeded to drive like they got a license from a cracker jack box–things like cutting in front of cars while changing lanes, turning with oncoming cars about 10 feet away, pulling into a parking lot and stopping when there is another car behind them also trying to get out of the way of street traffic, not allowing others to merge by trying to understand that the other driver is facing a hazard in their lane and has nowhere to go, etc. Basically, driving with a sense of self-entitled, complete obliviousness to anyone else on the road but them and their special “Heavenly Father” watching out for them.

  • Missy December 3, 2014 at 11:22 am

    Big black rig driver, hahaha, bwahahahaha, heeheeheehee. You’re so funny. You’re a comedian in your fantasy world. I see, you haven’t left the state.

  • Allie December 3, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    The worst state should be PA. But then, the study didn’t rank stupid as a category.

  • Robb Willie December 3, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    Yes. Yes, they are (the worst drivers). I moved to Alaska over five years ago. So glad to not drive in Utah (the home of the Tailgaters), any more. Anchorage has a third of a million people, and driving here is less stressful, even in a full blown snow storm, than just driving across town in St. George. People here don’t tailgate (you learn that the first winter you are here, if you need to learn that lesson), and IF YOU SIGNAL, they will make room for you, instead of speeding up like Utahns do. I remember working in Ivins (yech), standing in the middle of the road, wearing a bright orange vest, safety cones everywhere, and a soccer mom in her white SUV and cell phone, whizzed by me and almost ran over my feet. I’ve seen better drivers in Mexico, where stop signs are merely a suggestion.

  • DB December 3, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    After reading the above twenty comments, I guess Utah drivers are either the best or worst, take your pick! Personally, I’ll take this over Texas or Florida in a heartbeat. Oh, I’m driving to La La Land next week…better fill up on caffeine in Victorville on the way in. They see my Prius with Utah plates and think I’m a pushover…Guess again.

    • Dave Rabbitt December 3, 2014 at 8:05 pm

      DB – I hope that you’ve been practicing drifting through intersections, or they’ll eat you alive! 😉

      • DB December 4, 2014 at 4:01 pm

        Ah, the good old “California Stop”. I grew up there and learned it at an early age! Maybe that’s why God created roundabouts? (The pair in Bloomington were made by the Devil)

  • Shhhhhhhh! December 3, 2014 at 8:49 pm

    If it’s so bad feel free to leave!

    • The Rest Of The Story December 3, 2014 at 11:21 pm

      A lot of us don’t want to leave, which is why we engage in open dialogue–to share perspectives and gain new ones, as well as to help raise general awareness of issues that we would like to see in the forefront of public discourse. We don’t claim to have all the answers. Do you?

      • Koolaid December 4, 2014 at 10:21 am

        Of course they do! All answers to your questions can be found in their prayer books. And if you can’t find the answers to your questions, you shouldn’t question and just believe.

        • PROTECT THE SHEEP December 4, 2014 at 2:44 pm

          Not only have they got all the answers, you get a free bread and water ‘meal’ every time you show up. That’s just the icing on the cake…

  • Dolly December 3, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    Used to live in L.A., commuted to downtown daily dealing with traffic & crazy drivers, but…now that I go back to L.A. to visit family and have Utah plates…look out! I feel like the Calif drivers see me as a target and delight in cutting me off, etc. I’m quite sure that the “hater of other states drivers” label really does fit them. Funny, I don’t remember hating out of state drivers myself when I lived there! Worst complaint about So. Utah drivers…… the left turns they pull right in front of oncoming traffic! Does no one in this town have any depth perception or do they just want to get T-boned?

  • ozzie December 4, 2014 at 1:53 am

    My observation of STG drivers are that 3 or 4 drivers go through a light to turn left after it has turned red. I was recently in Tucson, AZ. At their busy intersections with left turn arrow lanes, they have cameras posted on the overhangs with the traffic lights. Yes there are 4 or more and there are warning signs for violators turning left after light changes. Drivers in Tucson do not turn left after the green light has changed to red. This would eliminate a lot of our accidents. No, I didn’t receive a ticket in the mail from the car rental agency.

  • Missy December 4, 2014 at 4:16 am

    Beef is a popular dish here. I rode through, St. Louis in rush hour and had NO near misses, even, Atlanta was pretty smooth riding, considering the traffic, but, Utah… tsk, tsk, I can tell, when I cross the stateline.

  • Audi December 4, 2014 at 9:55 am

    My husband and I were just in St. George, Hurricane, La Verkin, Zion National Park area this past week and we noticed that drivers in Utah (biggest offenders in Hurricane/La Verkin) wait until you get really close and then they pull out right in front of you. Additionally, when they turn, they turn as slowly as possible. And what’s with the slow speed in the fast lane?

    • sagemoon December 4, 2014 at 10:21 am

      People in Utah have a selective memory from when they took driver’s ed. They don’t remember what the left lane is for or the turning lane which they use as a merge lane.

  • PROTECT THE SHEEP December 4, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    You’ll be safe as long as you drive a 10 ton Ram HD pickup… Don’t like it then leave!

  • modigliani December 4, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    I suspect the high speed limits in Idaho, Utah and Wyoming are in part responsible for the bad driving. Kind of a “license to do as much damage as fast as you can.” Recklessness by fiat.

  • QTipimwhite December 4, 2014 at 8:19 pm

    Those of you turning left onto the main road from a side street. For example coming off the hill there by Green Valley or leaving a bloody swig, remember that the space in between those yellow lines is A TURNING LANE! Go Raiders!

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