WTOP Beltway Poll: D.C. has region’s worst drivers

This is going to add up. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

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WASHINGTON – Nearly half of the region’s population believes D.C. drivers are the worst in the Washington area, and those who text or talk on a cellphone are the top pet peeve of commuters, according to a new WTOP Beltway Poll.

As for which area jurisdiction has the worst drivers, 49 percent say D.C., followed by 21 percent for Maryland and 20 percent for Virginia.

When asked which region has the best drivers, 38 percent give the nod to Virginia while 37 percent say Maryland.

Only 8 percent believe D.C. drivers should receive top billing.

The rivalry between Maryland and Virginia residents is clearly evident in the survey. When broken down, 69 percent of Virginia residents say the commonwealth has the top drivers, while 60 percent of Maryland residents say the Free State has the best drivers. Only 41 percent of D.C. residents say they should get credit for the best.

The poll, conducted by Heart+Mind Strategies, points to some interesting perceptions among commuters.

D.C. residents are much more likely to cite Virginia as the source of poor drivers than Maryland.

Among D.C. residents, 43 percent say Virginia has the worst drivers, compared to 14 percent for Maryland.

Among Virginia residents, 46 percent say D.C. drivers are the worst, while more than half of Maryland residents (53 percent) point to D.C.

Overall, only 3 percent say all drivers are fine. Nine percent say all are bad.

Far and away, the issue that bothers people most when driving is seeing other drivers texting and talking on a phone. Forty-seven percent cite it as the top nuisance on the road.

Drivers who are too slow in the passing lane and tailgaters tied for second at 11 percent.

Rounding out the top five pet peeves: Drivers who don’t use their turn signals (9 percent) and drivers who “block the box” at busy intersections (8 percent). A greater percentage of D.C. residents (18 percent) cited those who “block the box,” which is commonplace in the nation’s capital.

Overall, drivers who honk the moment a light turns green and drivers who speed each had 4 percent. Roads without left-turn lanes and drivers who go out of turn at a four-way stop each get 2 percent.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percent.

The D.C. metro phone survey was conducted among 550 adults age 18 and older, between May 11-18, 2012. This included representative samples of 200 people in Virginia, 250 in Maryland and 100 in the District.

Heart+Mind Strategies is a non-partisan market research consultancy based in Reston, Va.

WTOP’s Mitchell Miller contributed to this story. Follow Mitchell and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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