Utah drivers get a bad rap. Do we deserve it?

Nov 15, 2022, 12:12 PM | Updated: 12:14 pm

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah – On a scale of 1-10, ten being the worst, how would you rate Utah drivers?

For some of us, it likely depends on the day, our mood, if we are running late, and whether other drivers are obeying traffic laws.

Probably fair to say, some days you may rank them high and some days fairly low.

The bigger question is this: Compared to the rest of the country, are Utah drivers the worst?

First of all, everybody seems to have an opinion on this one.

Christmas Jones has one: “They’re impatient.”

Derrek has one: “They’re bad. They’re bad. They’re really bad.”

Cameron has one: “They are terrible. It’s pretty gnarly. Not fun.”

Okay, you get the picture.

The only guy we found with nice things to say is Michael Gibner from Florida. He’d driven in Utah for a grand total of 24 hours when we spoke with him.

“It was a very good experience,” said Gibner.

Great first impression everyone!

But for those of us driving these roads on the daily, whether in the cab of a truck, on the seat of a bike, or just playing taxi across the valley, defining what exactly makes a good or bad driver is a little subjective.

Even research rankings provide different answers.

Each year, insurance and business sites create a formula using a various combination of metrics, such as DUI’s, fatalities, insured versus un-insured drivers, citations, accidents, speeding tickets, etc. They do a little voodoo math and then give each state a ranking. For example, the website Quote Wizard ranks Utah drivers number 6 on the “worst in the country” list.

And while many in the Beehive state would concur, just look at Utah’s status from these other sites using their own voodoo math:

  • Smart Asset ranks Utah 4th best.
  • Bank Rate has us 3rd best.
  • World Population Review claims Utah has the 2nd best drivers in the country.

And if these rankings are more reflective of the good, why do so many Utahns believe we’re so bad?

“I don’t know if it’s quite as bad as the reputation that we have,” Andy Farnsworth, the voice of KSL Newsradio morning traffic said.

For the past two decades, he has seen, reported and experienced just about every type of driver on Utah roads.

With that experience, Farnsworth believes perception is not always reality.

“I just don’t know how you quantify, like in a truly measurable way,” Farnsworth said. “Other than just your own personal feelings, how bad the drivers are.”

Farnsworth says wrong-way drivers and those throttling over 100 miles per hour have been some of the biggest concerns as of late.

An even a bigger concern is the rage we have seen on Utah roads. In the past month, driving angry has been in the spotlight. In one case, windows shot out with a pellet gun. In another, 41-year-old Chris Mortensen, husband and father of four, was shot and killed. Which brings us to a more sobering survey from Forbes Advisor. Across the country, they ranked Utah number one for the most confrontational drivers. From honking the horn (76%), to giving the bird (58%), to riding someone’s tail (73%).

The survey reveals one in every four Utah drivers said they know of someone injured because of road rage.

Whether you buy into those numbers or not, it should give all of us reason to pause, because tomorrow morning whether you’re driving, scootering, walking or riding, blinkers will not be used. Speeds will not be followed. And the frustrations will not go away.

Yes, Utah drivers are always going to drive like Utah drivers.

And it’s up to us to decide which Utah driver we want to be.

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Utah drivers get a bad rap. Do we deserve it?