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Worst Drivers: Where VA, DC Rank On National List

Posted on Jan 12,2018
Filed Under News , Community,

Image via PublicDomainPictures - Pixabay

By Deb Belt

WASHINGTON, DC. - Northern Virginia drivers tend to be aggressive and impatient — perhaps the gridlock that plagues many highways in the region brings out the worst in commuters — but that doesn't make them unsafe. Many states have worse drivers than Virginia; the sad honor for the worst drivers among all 50 states and the District of Columbia goes to Montana, according to a new report released by, an auto insurance website.

The website used data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for its survey and noted that the National Centers for Disease Control ranked the U.S. 19th among nations with similar income when it comes to destructive driving. The survey ranked states based on fatality rates, "failure to obey" laws for things such as seatbelt use and having a valid license, careless driving, drunken driving, and speeding.

Virginia tied with New Jersey for the 48th slot in the worst-drivers rankings, safer than the majority of the states, while Washington, D.C., tied for No. 32 among the worst drivers with Connecticut and New York.

Among all the states Maryland scored best for the use of seat belts, having valid a driver's license and obeying traffic signals; it ranked 41st overall for the quality of its drivers.

The worst drivers in 2017, according to the survey, were in Montana, followed by Arizona, Louisiana, Texas and Nevada to round out the top five slots.

On the other end of the spectrum, the survey says the best drivers are in Iowa, then Minnesota, New Jersey, Virginia, and Ohio.

Texting and phone use are leading causes of distracted driving, says transportation officials. Virginia state law prohibits anyone under 18 years old from using cell phones or any other personal communication devices while driving.

Texting is banned for all drivers. In Virginia, it is considered a primary offense, which means police can pull you over if they suspect you of texting while driving. The fine is $125 for the first offense, and $250 for subsequent offenses.

In addition to the text messaging ban, that applies to all drivers, there is a ban on all cell phone use for school bus drivers and for novice drivers. In 2013, the laws became tougher, with texting while driving becoming a primary offense, and fines being significantly increased. The fine for first-time offenders is $125, while repeat offenders face a $250 fine, according to the website.

All distractions endanger drivers, passengers and pedestrians, state officials say. Most distractions involve cognitive and sensory distraction. When you make a call on a hand-held phone you are not only holding and looking at the phone, you are also dialing, listening and thinking about the conversation.

Driver distractions include:

  • Texting
  • Using a cell phone or smartphone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player

And here's how the state defines aggressive driving, so you know what NOT to do.

When one of these actions contributes to an accident, law enforcement classifies that as aggressive driving: failed to yield right of way; failed to obey a stop sign; failed to obey a traffic signal; failed to obey other traffic control; failed to keep right of center; failed to stop for school bus; wrong way on one way; exceeded speed limit; too fast for conditions; followed too closely; improper lane change; improper passing; failure to obey traffic signs, signals, or officer; disregarded other road markings; other improper action; or operated motor vehicle in erratic/reckless manner.

Source Patch

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