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June 16, 2009

Where has all the road rage gone?

Whatever happened to Bodymore, Murderland? When did we change from Harm City to Charm City? Did we collectively take an anger management class? How did we get so nice all of a sudden?

According to a survey by the car care club AutoVantage, Baltimore has gone from No. 4 in its annual road rage ranking to being the region with the third-fewest angry drivers within the course of one year.

That's right. Baltimore has gone from being the City that Bellowed in 2008 to the City that Mellowed in 2009, according to  the fourth annual Driver's Seat Road Rage Survey of 24 metropolitan areas.

The only possible explanation is that people have been reading my Getting There columns on auto safety. 

The survey found that the least courteous city -- that is, the one with the most road rage this year -- was New York, which moved from No. 3 in 2008 to dethrone Miami. The city with the least road rage, according to AutoVantage, was Portland, Ore., followed by Cleveland and then -- I kid you not -- Baltimore.


Some of the individual survey findings that led to Baltimore' ranking could raise some eyebrows in these parts. According to the report, Baltimore and Sacramento tied as the cities where drivers are least likely to text, email or use a Blackberry while driving. This comes even before the new law banning the practice could go into effect Oct. 1.

Baltimore also ranked second, tied with Washington, as the city whhere drivers were least likely to  be eating or drinking behind the wheel. (The Nation's Capital showed almost as dramatic an improvement as Baltimore, going from the 5th-worst in 2008 to the 6th-best this year. That's change we can marvel at, if not quite believe in.)

Meanwhile, the region that discovered its inner Viking was Minneapolis/St. Paul, which slipped from 4th-best last year to 5th-worst this year. Musta been a bad  winter. You betcha.

The telephone survey found that the most frequent explanations for  road rage were:

      --Careless driving, cutting others off, speeding, tailgating, giving the one-finger salute and failing to signal.

      --People who were angry or stressed or were having a bad day.

      --People  in a hurry.

      --Traffic problems such as accidents and construction.

      --Inconsiderate or disrespectful drivers.

Among thebehaviors that annoy us most when people other than ourselves do it:  talking on cell phones (84 percent), speeding (58 percent), tailgating (53 percent), eating and drinking behind the wheel (48 Percent) and texting or emailing while  driving (37 percent).

The survey, based on 2,518 interviews, was conducted between Jan. 8  and March 24.









Posted by Michael Dresser at 1:19 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: On the roads


Ah. Well. If they'd counted the people who pretend like they think they're dashing through yellow lights when not only is their light red but the cross light has already turned green before they enter the intersection, we'd have been right back up there again.

I think we've all just been beaten into submission.

This survey has zero credibility...Baltimore is the 3rd best city for low instances of road rage???? What a riot that is!

Hard to believe! I was on 695 (Inner Loop) at the Towson exit yesterday in rush hour and a guy was working on his laptop (I kid you not!) while driving...he had the screen braced on the steering wheel and he was typing on his lap.

I had a blast of road rage just watching him...instead, I honked and gave him a "what the h@@l? type expression. He just shrugged, smiled and drove off!

I think Eve is right; we've become so used to the stuff we often don't even get mad anymore, it's more like resignation.

I don't know who they "surveyed" but it clearly wasn't the tailgaters I pick up every day.

I did notice 1 thing missing from the survey; The #1 cause of road rage are drivers who just plain refuse to move out of the left lane so faster traffic can pass safely.

I see this everyday where the right lane is empty and wide open yet the left lane is choked with a half-dozen or more vehicles driving like its' the right lane.

Drivers who refused to move right just plain make driving frustrating for those drivers who use the left lane for what it is - a high speed passing lane. If you're not speeding at least 10-15 mph over the limit, then get the heck out of the way.

Moving from lane to lane is such a simple manuever yet is very difficult for some drivers to comprehend. These are the drivers that troopers should be ticketing or removing from our highways.

They are obstructors, impeders, selfish and just plain stupid.

Show me a person that has a major hangup about being tailgated and I'll show you a person that habitually drives in the left-hand lane.

In the 30 years that I've been driving I can't remember ever being tailgated to the point where I got upset or angry. If somebody rides up on me my assumption has always been that they want to get past me, and so I move over as soon as I have a chance. No angst, no anger, just cooperation.

Other than that I do my best to get out ahead of traffic clumps (which I think are the most dangerous situation) and stay to the right unless I'm passing.

It's just so simple, but every time I state this anywhere, belligerant stubborn people get upset at the idea of staying to the right except to pass. I really don't get it, it's got to be some kind of macho ego thing or something.

I live in the Minneapolis area, and I agree with the left-lane usage thing.

What goes on here is slooooow acceleration. On freeway entrance ramps you will be hard pressed to find anyone moving faster than 35mph at the bottom. You will be getting onto the highway behind them with traffic racing right up behind you. Just hope everyone is paying attention around here. I've been rear-ended two different times here the last few years.....

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About Michael Dresser
Michael Dresser has been an editor, reporter and columnist with The Sun longer than Baltimore's had a subway. He's covered retailing, telecommunications, state politics and wine. Since 2004, he's been The Sun's transportation writer. He lives in Ellicott City with his wife and travel companion, Cindy.

His Getting There column appears on Mondays. Mike's blog will be a forum for all who are interested in highways, transit and other transportation issues affecting Baltimore, Maryland and the region.

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