It’s Official: D.C. Drivers Suck

A new insurance industry survey confirms what anyone who's spent an afternoon driving in metropolitan Washington, D.C. should already know in their heart.

Aaron Morrissey at DCist passes on news that anyone who’s spent more than ten minutes on the roads in the Metro Washington, D.C. area should already know:

Most of the drivers around this region — whether they’re from Maryland, Virginia or the District — just plain suck. This is not new.

But a new report released by Allstate Insurance Corporation indicates that Washington, D.C. is, in fact, the hellish nexus of American traffic. Washington — probably because the city, aside from its own crazy drivers, attracts a nightmarish mish-mash of drivers from two other jurisdictions who also have terrible drivers — finished dead last in the report’s rankings. Some other fun facts from the report: D.C. boasts a 95.5 percent “relative accident likelihood” against the national average and an average of 5.1 years between accidents. (In comparison, the top city on the list, Fort Collins, Colorado, has a negative-31.2 percent accident likelihood and averages 14.5 years between accidents.) Looking for sympathy? Don’t look too far: Baltimore finished but one slot ahead of D.C. in 192nd place. Arlington (174th) and Alexandria (177th) didn’t fare spectacularly either.

You can view the report here, but as James Joyner noted about a month ago, none of this should be surprising:

The city’s infrastructure is woefully inadequate for its population, much less for the thousands of people who commute in from Virginia and Maryland by car each day.   As a result, there’s gridlock, stop-and-go traffic, bottlenecks, and frustration.

DC drivers have reacted to this by adopting an incredibly aggressive style that persists even during those rare occasions when there’s little traffic.   They’ll cut you off without signaling, daring you to run into them, at any moment.  They’ll drive in the wrong lane to get to the head of a queue and then make everybody behind them slam their brakes and wait until they can force their way in.  They’ll block the box during lights, adding to the pile-up and frustration.

Add in a little bit of rain, snow, or even the sun in the sky and it gets even worse.

So, be proud fellow residents of the Washington D.C. area, we’re number one. Or something like that.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. JKB says:

    Well, it probably doesn’t help that idiot transportation design forces everyone whether they want to or not to approach DC to get somewhere else.  A bridge or two between the beltway and Point of Rocks would stop people just wanting to go to Dulles or somewhere else in VA from being funneled to DC.  But when I was living in Suburban Maryland, that was not an option as it would allow subject to escape from high taxation in Montgomery country.
    And let’s not forget Maryland drivers.  Really they have to be the worst.  You have to tolerate them when living there but is there any driver more prone to pacing you in your blind spot.  Clueless is being kind.
    I was driving from DC down to North Georgia, finally I’d found a nice quiet hole in the traffic when I reached NE Tennessee.  (81 down VA can be hectic with all the truck traffic and hills)  No traffic in sight for 2 miles ahead or behind.  A car approaches well over my speed and I expected them to pass on go on.  Instead they start pacing me in my blind spot.  Really annoying when you are the only two cars in miles.  I adjust my cruise control to get them to pass and sure enough it is some idiot on the phone with Maryland tags.  Fortunately, these idiots are so clueless if you can get them up to the middle of your vehicle, they take off again.  I kept hoping he’d sweep up a speed trap or something.