Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Enraged in San Francisco

I am disappointed. In a survey to determine which cities have the worst road rage, San Francisco was only ranked Number 10. I know we can do better than that. I have seen every possible kind of creative bad driving here and heard so much blue language that it no longer surprises me. Unless our rating means that we are a Perfect 10. We are perfectly terrible drivers in every measurable way, and also most angry. Perfect.

I grew up in New York, Number 2 on the list after Miami. Now that I can believe. Also Miami. Boston ranked 3rd, and Los Angeles 4th. I have lived in the first three, as well as Minneapolis, Number 14, and San Diego, Number 17. Do we sense a trend here? I'm surprised that Nashville did not make the list. They have more accidents per square mile than any other place I have lived. Of course, they didn't used to have any open container laws, which was certainly a factor. The rudeness quotient is not high there as Southerners are capable of doing horrible things more politely than anyone else, bless their hearts.

It seems that bad driving and road rage are on the increase everywhere, and I contemplate the reasons for this every day while trying to stay alive behind the wheel. I was pretty sure that the problem was not exclusive to San Francisco, although it is a small, hilly city with far more cars than the roads were intended for. I wonder if I am more aware of bad drivers because as I get older, there are more who are younger than I. Statistically, the youngest drivers are most likely to have accidents because of inexperience, juiced-up hormones, and the belief that they can't die, plus of course, their propensity to do other things while driving like talking on their phones, texting, putting on makeup, fiddling with CD players, eating, drinking, and copping a feel. Simultaneously.

I have witnessed a carload of eight kids jump out at a red light clutching beer cans, run around the car and change seats, in full view of a police officer. Did they get ticketed? Nah. Bad cop, no donut.

I do my share of swearing at other drivers, although I do so furtively so as not to rattle any cages. I have no desire to be shot. I am not given to flipping birds, but I learned to drive in New York and I know what my horn is for.

The list, ranked from those reporting the most incidents of road rage to the fewest:

1. Miami

2. New York

3. Boston

4. Los Angeles

5. Washington, D.C.

6. Phoenix

7. Chicago

8. Sacramento, Calif.

9. Philadelphia

10. San Francisco

11. Houston

12. Atlanta

13. Detroit

14. Minneapolis-St. Paul

15. Baltimore

16. Tampa, Fla.

17. San Diego

18. Cincinnati

19. Cleveland

20. Denver

21. Dallas-Ft. Worth

22. St. Louis

23. Seattle-Tacoma

24. Pittsburgh

25. Portland, Ore.

Where does your city rank? If it's after Number 25, please send airline ticket.


Liz said...

I would have definitely thought LA is higher than #4. My dad is here visiting from the Midwest and he can't believe some of the stuff folks pull on the roads here. I've been quite restrained in my own aggressive driving while he's in the car, but I'll own up to being one of those make-up, cell phone, eating and being on my laptop in the car type of drivers. I can do all this because the traffic moves so slowly that I can easily avoid crashing into anyone!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


They do all those things and more here, but often while flooring it in non-optimal places, like parking lots.

I hope your dad has a healthy heart.

Stephen said...

Austin isn't listed, but that doesn't mean we are without angry drivers sqeezing too many cars on inadequate roads.

However, we'll work on that plane ticket.

jali said...

I can't believe that Atlanta is so far down on the list. I'm shocked.

Voyager said...

If Canadian cities were on the list, Vancouver would rank first in road rage. Not because of all the drivers, just one. He alone would skew the stats to take us to # 1. My beloved husband.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Oh, good. I'm glad to know you were not slighted when all the goodies were handed out.

Plane ticket. Oh, yeah. I put out my arms and flapped them, but nothing happened.


As am I. I've been to Atlanta under the worst of circumstances: pulling a horse trailer with a Plymouth Duster. Sheer insanity-induced catatonia.


That is a monumental achievement.

Is your husband from New York or Miami?

Ian Lidster said...

I tried to get my road-rage under control after I realized those at whom I might slip the bird are sometimes packing heat. I've driven in both San Francisco and San Diego, not to mention Seattle and Portland and have found the drivers reasonable. The mellowest are Hawaiian drivers. I once saw a guy in a Jeep on the north coast of Kauai with a Cheech and Chong sized doobie happening as he drove the one lane road. No evidence of rage in him at all.
I too have been known to use language involving a lot of 'c'and 'f' words I don't normally utter to excess.


Open Grove Claudia said...

I was shocked to see that Denver was 20th since we've recently had deaths due to road rage. Like someone cut someone else off in order to intentionally make them roll - they rolled and took out another car. The guy was smug through the entire thing including saying at sentancing that "anyone" would do that same. And Denver's 20th??

It's a scary, scary world.

yinyang said...

Ha ha. I think people here are too polite to report bad drivers. Plus, we're not a big city like Denver - though, if we keep being put on "Top Ten Places to Live" lists, that'll change.

thethinker said...

My city is in the top 25.

And I agree with your assessment of young people. We think we're invincible and that we can't/won't die. (We are, really! Why doesn't anyone believe us?)

seventh sister said...

When I saw the headline, my first thought was that Miami had to be the worst. I lived in the area and whoever was behind me at every red light must have been sitting there with their hand on the horn because they almost always managed to honk it a milisecond after the light changed. Never mind that there were still cars passing in front of me in the intersection. We took a trip to Southern California and one back to Texas while we lived there. I was always relieved that we could drive around those places without hearing drivers constantly honking at each other and at us. We would always hear it by the time we got to the airport parking lot in Florida.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Yes, Hawaii, sigh. Flip lived in Maui and Oahu for many years, unfortunately before we met, and totally agrees with you.

I've also noticed that even the drivers without bongs are polite and patient and never in a hurry. (More sighs.) But then, why would they be? Wherever they are is perfect.


That IS scary. Anyone would do the same? There are some really chilling behaviors and so much indiscriminate rage out there. How did people with so much to be thankful for grow so angry?


And where do you live that people are too polite to report bad behavior? I'd like to move there.


I believe you. Really I do. Cross my heart and hope to um ... I believe you like crazy.


I've lived in Miami, too. Coral Gables, actually. They have very well-developed horn hands there. I think this is because so many of them are from New York.

urban-urchin said...

#2, and I know why. People drive like crap and when I say people I mean cab drivers, and delivery drivers.

SF and LA drivers also have nasty traffic to deal with. esp. either approach to the Bay Bridge in the am or after 3- and well LA has the 405 and the 10 both of which would put me into the foulest mood first thing in the morning when I lived there....

EsLocura said...

I've lived in Boston and NYC. Now here in Puerto Rico, I am thankful everyday I don't get pushed over a cliff, driving laws here are mere suggestions to most drivers.

Polyman3 said...

Anger, at the imperfection
of our own being we see
in others as a mirror
of what and who we are,
and who we see when we gaze
into the abliss of
our own existance.

Back to say hi.

Anonymous said...

Nowhere is Connecticut listed. I'm not shocked. These are the most polite drivers ever. After DC, Miami and NYC, I'm pretty happy. That is until I take a road trip to VA. I 95 sucks.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I would always count on New York to be in the top two.

I think that L.A. has more skillful drivers than SF. They are both aggressive and inept here.


That's true everywhere in the Caribbean that I've been, and also in Mexico. Rules of the road are optional.

When I was in Cuba briefly during the Revolution, I noticed that there were no stoplights. Everyone converged on an intersection w/o brakes and whoever got there first won.

Fear distracted me from the excessive beauty of the island.


You know what the LIE is like. Don't you agree that NY has earned its place in the survey?


Connecticut is very polite, which is surprising considering its proximity to NY and MA.

meno said...

But...but...where is Seattle? I don't understand. But c'mon over.

mist1 said...

Of course my city is on the list. I drive here. People can't stand the way I drive.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Hey, don't complain. You came in 23rd, although you have to share it with Tacoma.

My SIL lives in Gig Harbor. I don't think she suffers from road rage, but she is a rosary beads driver.

I have been through hurricanes in small boats, but never experienced motion sickness in my life until I was her passenger.

(Of course she moved to WA from CA.)


Only Number 12. You're going to have to try harder.

Jocelyn said...

Ticket to hilly Duluth, MN, is in the mail. It's like San Francisco in that, if your brakes fail from the hills, you can maneuver your car towards a large body of water and land with a splash.

I see the study is about most incidents of road rage. That doesn't necessarily mean that San Fran is lesser in terms of bad drivers. You still can sit proudly behind the wheel, feeling certain that your fair city ranks high, high, high in terms of terrible drivers. They're just amiable about it.

Bob said...

#12 - be afraid, very afraid.

I have lived between #15 and #5, so does that mean I've really lived in #12.5 (which is actually somewhere around padukah?)

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Actually, they're aggressive and intimidating, and seem to think that their SUV's are armored cars.

I am surprised that Minneapolis is on the list. When I lived there, everyone was gentle and polite except the hockey players and snowmobilers.


We've already established that Mist is responsible for Atlanta's impressive showing.

One person CAN make a difference.

Dumdad said...

Paris (France) has its moments of madness too.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


But they do it so charmingly. With great wine.

Lee said...

Mine's #5. Drove there yesterday. Traffic was bad as usual, but I didn't notice anything particularly rude, cept the truckload of Lawn Care Specialists who honked and hooted at me. They're retarded.

furiousBall said...

I'm closest to Philly at #9, which is probably about right. Although, I really have to disagree with Atlanta only being #12 - the sprawl in that area is amazing and I didn't know anyone with a good commute unless they slept on their desks.

Kate S said...

I've lived in Phoenix and Chicago and can't for a minute believe that Phoenix ranked higher than Chicago.

Obviously, this list is flawed, so don't worry about coming in 10th. :)

la cubana gringa said...

If there were a list for just plain old bad driving, I bet SF would be higher up on the list...I learned how to drive in Central America where it's every driver for himself and I STILL find the driving in SF more appalling!

BTW, you should come over to play today...if you choose wisely, you just might get a present! And I know how much you like presents!

Christina_the_wench said...

#13... I am disappointed. Can't they take into account the drive-bys and car-jackings? I mean, cmon. It's the Motor City. We make 'em and break 'em.

thailandchani said...

I'm not a bit surprised Los Angeles is high on the list.

It was a bit surprising to see Sacramento so high on the list. Since I don't drive, I don't see much of it but this place has increased in population too quickly over the past 10 years. So.. maybe it shouldn't be surprising.

When I was driving, I was diligent about avoiding high traffic concentration times. For someone who was raised in Los Angeles, I have a strong distaste for sluggish traffic. At the same time, it prevented such things as giving the finger or yelling at other drivers.

In Los Angeles, someone might pull out a gun and start shooting.

Now it's the same here.



enidd said...

oddly, enidd just posted on something similar - she thinks molvania would push all these down to about 200.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I know who you mean -- they make kissing noises. Jerks.


I don't remember spectacular rudeness in Atlanta, but behemoth traffic jams. I would hate to do a daily commute there. I don't even like Coke.


You're too kind. That's very comforting. I would pit SF's rude & atrocious drivers against anyone's.

La Cubana,

There seems to be a prevalent "Me First" mentality here. I'm not sure if it's entitlement or simply ignorance of the rules. Maybe both.

I'll be right there.


"Make 'em and break 'em." Is that Detroit's Mission Statement?


We spent a month in Sacramento 3 or 4 years ago, and I agree with you. The traffic was quite shocking, and did seem greatly increased over our previous visits.

I know that many people are packing heat, and try not to piss them off.


Molvania! I'd love to read what you said about it.

Thanks for your visit.

Anonymous said...

Chicago ranks seventh.

But what happens if I were to visit San Fransisco? Do I, as a Chicago driver, pull down the SF #10 and make the road an angrier place to be or does being in SF make me 3 points less angry?

We're number seven! We're number seven! We're number seven!

melanie said...

I have lived in Houston and Dallas. Houston was far worse. I have driven in San Francisco, and believe that it is the worst city for traffic that I have ever been in!

hands down!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Well, thank God you're not number six or we'd never get your head through the door when you come to visit.

And please keep your math problems to yourself. Do I look like Stephen Hawking to you?


Oh, you are much too kind. On behalf of all the little drivers, I thank you for your outrageous compliments. Mwaaaaaahhhh.

Sienna said...

...and road rage is definitely escalating here (in Oz).

But I have something funny, one day I was headed to town, (me and Jed Clambett) and I was behind this little old ute, (respectable distance)....and I could see something blowing and waving out the driver's side window...???

A long stream of something, just billowing!

As I got closer (within legal speed limit) and commenced to pass him I realised it was a middle aged guy with a *comb-over*, his window was down and he was feeling good, and the wind had caught his comb-over and it was merrily blowing in the wind!

The answer my friend, is blowin' in the wind
the answer is blowin' in the wind...

Part of me says: I love that he was so comfortable with his body image that he could do that

Part of me says: Giggle, shreik, awahhhaaaaaaa, hhaawaaaaaa


heartinsanfrancisco said...


That IS a funny visual. I think it would be hard to feel good with a combover, but then, that's just me.

My hair blows out the window all the time, even though I've recently cut off a lot of it. I let it do what it wants and in return, it doesn't strangle me in my sleep.

Kevin said...

Cincinnati Number 18! Hell yeah!!!

Joan said...

When we first moved from NYC to Los Angeles in the late 60's, my dad thought L.A. drivers were among the nicest since no one ever honked their horns or cut people off. He was also flabbergasted the first time he was stopped by an LAPD officer and was told to "have a nice day." My...how times have changed.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


And you think number 18 is great? Number 18 is NOTHING. I bet they even let old ladies cross streets unharmed in Cincinatti. I bet they don't even try to SCARE them.


My,how times have changed indeed. Ask Rodney King about that.

My husband grew up there, and it sounds like it was a very laid-back place once.

It's the same all over, really. Too many people, not enough room.

Molly said...

Seems to me Minneapolis and Tampa should be much higher on that list....Bats out of hell look meek compared to some of the drivers I've seen in the Tampa area.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Amped in Tampa. Those blue-hairs are really a menace on the road.

Deb said...

"The rudeness quotient is not high there as Southerners are capable of doing horrible things more politely than anyone else, bless their hearts."

That line made me giggle.

Ryane said...

haha. I think that there is more rudeness and road rage b/c people view drivetime as a powertrip. And so, any other driver that dares to impinge upon the power of another deserves to be treated in the most horrible, awful fashion. In DC (#5--thank you very much, thankyouverymuch!!) my experience has been that the more expensive the car, the worse the driving and road rage. It's almost as if folks who drive $100,000 cars feel more entitled to that sort of bad behaviour.

Having said that, I have had moments of rudeness and bad behaviour. Esp. when I was younger. Now, I try and take it in stride and be calm. This does not always work (I like my horn too, hearts!) but it has helped me maintain my perspective while on the road.

Odat said...

We'll try harder next year!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I almost didn't recognize you in your new picture. Bless your heart.


That's a very good point about power tripping in expensive cars. I have also noticed an attitude of entitlement among many such people.

In SF, though, it seems that nearly everyone drives badly, even people in lesser vehicles.


You're nearly there now. How hard can it be? I heart NY.

aine said...

I really can't believe Atlanta is so far down on that list. I've never had worse road rage, even in Boston! For the first time in my life I listen to classical music in the car, just to keep from putting my head through my windshield.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I always listen to classical music in my car. It helps. It even got me out of a speeding ticket once.

I said, "Officer, I couldn't have been speeding... I'm listening to classical music on my radio."

Thank you for your visit.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

What? Denver is 20th? No way. Is there some way we can verify the validity of this report?
Denver has HORRIBLE drivers... rude, mean, thoughtless... UNINSURED drivers... it has the highest number of uninsured motorists in the nation; 37%, and that stat is from the state experts.

What is it they say, that everyone else is the lousy driver? Whatever speed we are going, no matter what it is, is the correct speed. Everyone else is wrong... It's either the idiot going too slow in front of you or the maniac flying too fast as he passes you.

I just wrote a blog about bad drivers last week: http://wanderlustscarlett.blogspot.com/2007/05/what-goes-around.html (shameless but apropos plug)

I laughed sooooo much at most of these posts... especially Deb, and the politeness of rude southerners... my sis is in Arkansas, and they can really twist a knife with the sweetest of smiles... makes you stop and wonder if you were supposed to say thank you or not when they are done... ha ha ha


heartinsanfrancisco said...


There seems to be a general attitude of superiority, and driving is but one manifestation of it.

Far too many people believe that they automatically have the right of way, regardless of who is doing what. It has turned something I always loved to do into an activity I almost dread.

Thank you for your visit.

MsLittlePea said...

I wonder if the reason Miami and New York are 1 and 2 is because Miami is full of New Yorkers.

My town's not on there. There are a lot of bad drivers here but I guess no one's mad over it!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Sweet Pea,

I'm sure that's the reason. Those New Yorkers...!

I was once driving with my father in his sports car on the causeway from Miami to Key West. He decided to see if it would really do 140, as indicated on the dash.

We were doing over 100 when another car suddenly appeared like a mirage ahead of us, luckily also speeding.

I was terrified. My father didn't take direction well, like "Slow down, you maniac," so I said, "That car is following pretty close on your front, isn't it?"

He passed the other car, which was probably doing a mere 99mph, and we careened on our terrifying way.

Sven said...

I think the Twin Cities have changed since you left. Two weeks ago all the news stations featured a story of two women who stopped afternoon rush hour traffic by getting out of their cars in the middle of I-694 and chasing each other around, all the while throwing fists and effenheiemers.

So much for Minnesota Nice.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


You're right. Things have changed.

When I lived there, the only hostility that affected us was snowmobilers who made sport of scaring children skating on Christmas Lake, a branch of Lake Minnetonka, where we lived.

I still remember MN as having the most beautiful quality of light I have seen anywhere.

CS said...

YOu can move out here to the middle of nowhere of you like - very little road rage in spite of the very pooor driving skills. Except for me - I'm the one cursing at the fools driving around the corner in the middle of the friggin' road.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


It's a rough job, but somebody has to do it.

Kevin Charnas said...

It transcends all ages and comes from a sense of entitlement that permeates everything in our society.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


It would be nice to bring back a little humility if it would make people more polite.

Even right-of-way at intersections has been replaced with an attitude of I'm-cool-so-I-go-first.

I think that I'm so uncool I have become invisible.

Pawlie Kokonuts said...

My city is unranked. Planes come to Upstate NY quarterly. Prop planes.

Pawlie Kokonuts said...

Pittsburgh? It's all bridges. Maybe the count is skewed because they can't count all the bodies tossed into one of the Three Rivers.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Where in upstate NY do you live?

I bet SF has a higher body count than Pittsburgh just off the GG Bridge alone. They don't usually take their cars with them, though.

My heart runneth over... said...

Well I grew up in New York and now live in NJ and I have to tell you. I prefer to drive in NYC anyday compared to the nuts that drive in NJ! Oh Gosh, there worse than the ederly!


Drive Safely Please!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


New Yorkers hate people from New Jersey. I don't know why. They just do. We don't hate CT, but NJ just gets our goat.

Risking life and limb in SF.

The Moon Topples said...

Chicago only placing 7th makes me...so...angry.

Best go out for a drive.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I hope you were able to stir up a little abstract hostility to set things right.

Face it, New..York..rules.

Jay said...

The roads around here can be a bit harrowing because they tend to be pretty clogged, but people are pretty polite, they always let you in and there are always a few bad drivers but instead of flipping him off, other drivers will roll down their windows and crack jokes to each other about the jerk. We're funny that way.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Canadians are far more polite than Americans.

I first noticed this on my first visit to Toronto, where a lovely park posted signs saying "Please do walk on the grass."

Coming from NY, where every directive to the public begins with "NO," I was charmed and knew that I was in a foreign country in more ways than one.

velvet girl said...

My city is way up there and it's not surprising. When I first moved here, I would get really steamed and vocal, but after I learned to just expect the people around me to do the dumbest, most self-centered and dangerous things possible (they seldomly disappoint), I could achieve a zen-like calm while driving.

Either that or I developed the thousand yard stare of the battle-hardened veteran. That's more likely.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Driving used to be a zen experience for me, but it's become more of a paranoid catatonia lately.

You're right, though. Expect the absolute worst of other drivers and they never disappoint.

Crankster said...

I can't believe that DC is only number 5.

I wonder if these cities actually design their highways and byways with an eye toward road rage. Perhaps the whole thing is a long-term psychological experiment.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


And we are but lab rats in a maze run by beings we cannot even comprehend.

It's entirely believable.

Lex said...

Well, I'm in the top 5!!

JR's Thumbprints said...

Detroit only gets thirteenth? Must be that great equalizer (with or without a concealed weapons permit).

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Congratulations! I'm so happy for you. Onward and upward, better every day in every way.


Hey, so nice to see you again! Now I'm going to follow you home and see if you have brought your blog back. You've been missed.


WHO ARE YOU? And do you expect me to read all that garbage you are spewing on my blog?

Thanks to you, I will now have to put in the letter verification again.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Anonymous (again,)

I deleted your 4-mile long insane rant. If you are not a bot, please do not return to my blog. I mean it.