Arizona is renowned for its warm weather, low cost of living, and affordable housing. The alpine and desert landscapes provide endless beauty, and outdoor activities abound. Our low property taxes are also part of the charm.
Despite the many positives, life in The Grand Canyon State isn’t always picture-perfect. Arizona was ranked number one in a Forbes Advisor survey for being the state with the most confrontational drivers. Almost a third of all Arizona drivers say they’ve been involved in road rage incidents “very frequently” in their time on the road.
So what exactly is making Arizonans so aggressive?
It’s really, really hot in Arizona
Record-breaking heat waves gripped much of the U.S. throughout 2023. Arizona in particular suffered through 31 consecutive days of 110-degree-plus temperatures from June into July. This kind of blistering heat can lead to all kinds of extreme physical discomfort.
It was so hot that people who came in contact with the ground suffered severe, life-threatening burns. Bed space at the
Paramedics were called to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in July when passengers were trapped on a delayed plane with no air conditioning for three hours. Several people vomited and others passed out from heat exhaustion while they were stuck on the tarmac in the 111-degree heat.
Heatwaves affect more than just your bodily functioning. Extreme heat can also disregulate your emotions. You’re more prone to irritability if the heat is making you physically uncomfortable or it’s making it hard for you to sleep. People are more prone to acts of violence – including murder! – when the temperature climbs. Some experts even directly link extreme heat to more frequent incidents of road rage.
The population keeps growing in Arizona
More people are moving to Arizona. The population of the state grew from about 6.4 million in 2010 to a whopping 7,359,197 in 2022, according to the United States Census Bureau. That’s more than a 15 percent population increase in just over a decade. The majority of these people – about 4.5 million – call Phoenix and Maricopa County their home. Winters also see an influx of snowbirds who flock from cold-weather states to enjoy Arizona’s warm climes. The concentration of people year-round can put a strain on local infrastructure, including the state’s roads.
More people means more traffic in the nation’s sixth-largest state by size. We all know that it can be extremely frustrating to get stuck in bad traffic, especially when you have someplace you need to be. In fact, heavy traffic is the number one cause of people’s road rage, according to the survey conducted by Forbes Advisor.
The other top factors that amp up drivers’ road rage are:
- They are already feeling stressed.
- They’re running late.
- They were already angry before they got behind the wheel.
- They’re experiencing fatigue or exhaustion.
COVID-19 has made drivers more aggressive
Speeding and other dangerous driving behaviors increased across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Arizona was no exception. The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) reported 1,294 traffic-related deaths in 2022, which is about a nine percent increase over the year before. ADOT’s 2022 Arizona Motor Vehicle Crash Facts report noted inappropriate or excessive speeding as the number one deadliest driver behavior.
Increasingly open roads during lockdown and a need to have control over something were likely contributors to the rise in risky driving. Lockdown is behind us, but Americans haven’t let up on the gas pedal yet. The U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has reported that “risky driving has become the new normal.”
Several COVID-related factors have been proven to significantly affect drivers’ performance and situational awareness, according to a study published in the Journal of Transport and Health. The journal reported a marked increase in certain risky behaviors during the height of the pandemic. These included speeding, distracted driving, cell phone use, and driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Post-COVID behaviors that negatively impact drivers’ skills and attentiveness include wearing a face mask while driving, being on oral antiviral drugs, and experiencing psychological stress over fear of contracting COVID-19.
Most crashes and road rage incidents took place in cities, according to data from both Forbes and ADOT. Freeways and highways trailed only slightly behind in Forbes’ study. Rural spaces, where roads are usually less congested, were less common for road rage incidents across all sources.
How drivers behave badly in Arizona
Arizona ranked first in the nation in terms of confrontational drivers with an overall score of 100 (out of 100) on the Forbes survey. The survey looked at specific acts of aggression to come up with a comprehensive score. Let’s take a closer look at five of the ways Arizona drivers break bad behind the wheel.
- Arizona came in second nationwide for the number of drivers who have been driven off the road by another car, trailing right behind Illinois.
- The Grand Canyon State tied with Oklahoma with the third-highest number of drivers reporting aggressive tailgating incidents.
- Arizona ranked highly for drivers who had been intentionally blocked from changing lanes by other angry drivers. The state placed sixth after Rhode Island, Alabama, and Illinois, which had a three-way tie, followed by West Virginia, and Colorado, respectively.
- Arizona drivers ranked number eight for being intentionally cut off, following West Virginia, Texas, Rhode Island, Virginia, Oklahoma, Massachusetts, and Ohio (in that order).
- About a third of all Arizona drivers reported that another driver had left their vehicle to yell at or otherwise fight with them. In fact, Arizona ranks sixth worst for the number of drivers who have been yelled at, insulted, cursed out, or verbally threatened by another driver. Rhode Island leads West Virginia, with Virginia, Alabama, and Arkansas tied right behind.
With a rap sheet like this, it’s easy to see why Arizona tops the list of America’s angriest drivers!
If you or a loved one have been hurt in a car or truck accident, the personal injury attorneys at Plattner Verderame, PC are here to help. We will assess your case and work diligently to get you the best possible verdict and the awards you deserve. Call our offices or contact us to set up your free consultation at one of our two offices, conveniently located in Phoenix and Tempe.
Partner Frank Verderame is a seasoned trial attorney, who has dedicated his life to helping victims of serious injuries. He is a Board Certified Specialist in Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Litigation, and has been an active part of legal communities and organizations since he started his practice, back in 1983.
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