The Worst Drivers in America. A Dissertation.

Even though Rick Santorum and 98% of Texans claims that it’s un-American to do so, in my opinion, when a man is wrong, he should apologize.

With that in mind, I would like to take this opportunity to formally and publicly apologize to the people of Las Vegas.

You see, once upon a time, I bestowed the title of “Worst Drivers in America” upon the people of that city, and I’m here to tell you that I was wrrrrrrrrrr. I was wrrrrrrrrrr. I … express regret that my words may have been less than accurate.

Over the past few months, I’ve been involved in an intensive, immersive, up-close relationship with Seattle traffic, and I have come to the conclusion that Seattle drivers are the most confused, most unskilled, most inattentive drivers in the United States of America. In my mind, it’s no longer even debatable. At this point in time, calling Seattle drivers the worst drivers in the country is as controversial as stating that three is the square root of nine.

Typical Driver in Downtown Seattle

“Oh sure Rex, you think the drivers in your city are worse than everywhere else, but who doesn’t? Everyone says that!”

Fair enough, and there is no doubt that there is some truth to that statement. However, I’ve lived in a few places over the course of my lifetime, and I never leveled this charge against the drivers of NYC, DC, or Los Angeles. To the contrary, while traffic in those towns was bad, most of the drivers possessed a basal level of urban driving skill that no Seattle driver can claim.

If you think about it, this actually makes some sense.

On the East Coast, people know how to drive in the city. Even the suburbanites and ruralites. They have to. You can’t spit on the east coast without hitting a city. Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Newark, New York, Hartford, Boston … city driving is part of life over there. The same is true of California to a large extent. Los Angeles County is one huge grid of city. In fact, the LA Metro area is actually more densely populated than is the NYC Metro area.

The Seattle area, with a density of only 500 people-per-square-mile, however, is quite rural. Outside of the 2 square miles that make up Seattle’s urban core, there are no areas in the Pacific Northwest where a driver would encounter inner-city, quasi-Manhattan-esqe driving conditions. As such, our suburban neighbors are simply unfamiliar with the urban driving paradigm.

Also, since inner-Seattle is so geographically small, and residents of the core walk and bike everywhere, close to 100% of inner-Seattle traffic is comprised of tourists; people who do not live here.

It shows.

Seattle rush hours are comprised of 300,000 suburban drivers attempting to make their way into and out of a maze of one-way streets, traffic lights, and parallel parking spaces … and most of them have no idea what they are supposed to do. As far as they are concerned, driving in Kirkland and driving in Downtown Seattle is the exact same thing. They are, to put it nicely, rubes.

This, combined with a pathological self-centricity born of generally pampered lives, is why drivers in Seattle, and especially Downtown Seattle, are so comically awful.

When I say “awful”, though, what do I mean?  After all, isn’t such a word subjective? In order for one group of drivers to be worse than another, wouldn’t their behavior need to be, in some manner, different?

The answer is that Seattle drivers do, indeed, have peculiarities that I have never experienced in any other city, state, or nation, at least not to the same extent … and these peculiarities are the overwhelming cause of Seattle’s traffic problems.

So, what are they? What are these terrible driving habits of which I speak?

Well, since you asked so nicely, I’ll tell you …

The first is what I have come to call the “Seattle Surrender”, and it’s by far the most prevalent driving trait you will encounter in Seattle’s urban core.

“What is the Seattle Surrender?”, you ask.

The Seattle Surrender is when, for no apparent reason, the driver in front of you simply abandons the task of driving. He or she literally gives up, both physically and mentally. They surrender. It is arguably the most bizarre driving habit I’ve seen anywhere.

Picture this: You are driving down 1st Avenue at 25Mph with a line of cars behind you, when all of a sudden the driver in front of you hits her brakes, and simply stops in your lane of travel. She doesn’t pull over, she simply stops for no apparent reason at all. She stays there indefinitely, refusing to move even when you lay on your horn.

On Downtown Seattle streets, the Seattle Surrender is ubiquitous. In the course of an average day, I encounter the Surrender no fewer than 20 times. I’ll be driving along when the person in front of me either slows to a crawl or just stops, without notice, or any visible reason.  They simply lose interest in the task of driving, and give up doing so.

Sometimes, they come to a stop at a green light.  Sometimes, they come to a stop mid-block.  In all cases, they completely and utterly surrender, and cease driving altogether.

And do you know what?  They think nothing of it.  Absolutely nothing.  They do this as if it’s the most normal thing in the world, all day, every day.  It is nothing short of incredible.

There is often a twist on the Seattle Surrender.  One in which the driver surrenders just long enough to screw you, before continuing on their way.

Imagine, if you will, that you’re  driving down 4th Avenue, and as you’re coming up to Pike Street, you notice that the traffic light is green.

“Sweet”, you think to yourself, “I’m going to make better time than I thought.”

Suddenly, as if on cue, the driver in front of you hits her brakes and slows down, before coming to a rest in the middle of the crosswalk.

Remember, the light is still green.

As you sit there, wondering what is going on, you watch as the stoplight turns yellow.

“I should have known”, you think to yourself, “driving in Seattle is never that easy.”

As the light turns from yellow to red, the woman in the car in front of you punches the accelerator, shooting through the red light, nearly running over three pedestrians in the process.

As you sit there, watching the next 3 minutes of your life tick away, you wonder what the whole point was.  Why did the driver ahead of you stop?  Why did she run a red light afterward?  None of it made any sense.

But it does.  It does make sense.

See, the Seattle Surrender is a move born of complete and utter self-centricity.  It might help you understand if you picture the driver ahead of you thinking “meeeeeeeeeeee!” the entire time they’re driving. Because that’s exactly what they’re doing.

Remember, friends, when you’re driving in Seattle, you are surrounded by people who have never once considered the notion that other people have needs.  It simply never occurs to them.  Heck, they don’t even know that you exist.

When you’re born into a relatively affluent suburban household, with over-attentive parents and an inflated sense of self-esteem, empathy is not a trait that you will naturally develop.  Instead, you learn that you’re special.  You’re unique.  You, you, you.

And if at any point, you don’t feel like driving anymore?

Then you don’t.  You simply … stop.

And when you’re ready to resume?

Well, Patrick Swayze said it best:

“Nobody puts Baby in a corner!”

And so, you do your thing, knowing that everyone is watching and accommodating your every move.  After all, you’re you.  You wouldn’t have gotten all of those trophies for participation if you weren’t special, so there’s really no need to think about how your actions effect others.

I digress …

The next most common traffic-stopper in Downtown Seattle is the reverse roadblock.

Picture this: You are driving down First Avenue when all of a sudden traffic stops. Just completely grinds to a halt. You look at the clock, and it’s 11:15am.

“Gee”, you say, “it’s awfully early for rush hour, why has traffic stopped?”

Confused, you sit there. And you sit there. Finally, you roll down your window, stick your head out, and you see the problem.

Up ahead, a driver has her reverse lights on. You see, she spotted an empty parking space, and just like her Driver’s Ed teacher at Bumbletwat High School taught her, she is trying to back into it.

The problem is, there is only one lane of travel, there are 7 cars behind her, and the only way she can possibly get into the space is if all 7 of us also throw our cars into reverse.

So, why is she still sitting there?

Because, believe it or not, this is exactly what she expects us to do. Instead of going around the block, or nosing into the space, she expects us all to back up and make room for her parallel parking attempt. A Mexican standoff ensues until one driver after another gets frustrated and crosses the yellow line, risking a head-on collision, to go around her.

This happens somewhere between 10-15 times per day, and no, I am not exaggerating.

While drivers in other major cities know to nose-in, wait for a clearing, and then straighten up … such behavior is unheard of in Seattle. Everyone parks suburban-style, and if that means causing multi-block backups or accidents, so be it.

Then, there is the Stoplight Spaceout.

Picture this: You’v got ten minutes to get from Pioneer Square to LQA, so you point your car north on 1st Avenue and hit the gas. When you get to Spring Street, the light is red, so you queue up behind the five other cars in front of you.

Finally, the light turns green, at which point … nothing happens. The five cars in front of you just sit there, immobile. The seconds tick by, six, seven, eight, and finally you tap the horn.

Still nothing … twelve, thirteen, fourteen.

Finally, you lay on the horn, beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep and FINALLY the first car begins inching forward. Then, the second car begins moving, then the third. Oh thank god, it’s finally your turn to go, and you begin to move forward just as the light is turning yellow.

You won’t make it without risking a ticket. Another three minutes of your life down the drain.


I don’t know. Nobody knows. You’d better get used to it, though.

Much like the Seattle Surrender, this is another case where Seattle drivers simply cease driving at random times. They may be texting, they may be reading, they may be … who knows what they’re doing … all I know is that the task of driving no longer interests them, so they simply stop doing it.

Next, there is the Box Block.

Picture this: You are driving north on 6th Avenue, approaching Pike Street, when you notice that traffic on the other side of the intersection is stopped. Knowing that you will not make it all the way through the intersection, you stop at the green light.

A woman in the BMW to your immediate left is confused by your behavior. She doesn’t understand why you have not pulled behind the car in front of you. “Are you Seattle Surrendering?”, she wonders.

Annoyed by your obvious stupidity, she drives past you, illegally changes lanes in the intersection, and pulls up to the rear bumper of the car in front of you. Not content to sit behind a non-driving jackass like you, the Escalade behind you angrily pulls around, and stops behind Princess in the BMW just as the light is turning red.

For the next 4 minutes, nobody moves. Traffic in all directions, for 5 blocks at least, is completely immobile.


Because the intersection is blocked, of course. You tried to do the right thing, but you just couldn’t save the other Seattle drivers from themselves. You never can.

Now look, I know that the last one happens everywhere. It’s the very definition of “gridlock”. What is astounding, however, is the complete ubiquity of this behavior in Downtown Seattle day after day after day after day.

Seattle is the only city on the planet that can have a traffic jam with only 10 cars in the same zip code. Just like life in Jurassic Park, abhorrent driving finds a way.

Last, but certainly not least, is Wrong Way Peachfuzz.

Five to ten times per day, I encounter drivers who are driving the wrong way on a one-way street. It happens so often that, from a safety perspective, I treat all streets as two-way, regardless of what the signs say. I always look both ways when crossing, and I try to always drive in the right lane of a one-way street.

Once upon a time, when I encountered a wrong-way driver, I would honk, flash my lights, and point in the correct direction of travel, but now … I just pull to the right and let them pass. Nothing can be done. Expecting a Seattle driver to read a traffic sign is like expecting your dog to master Calculus. It’s not going to happen, and any efforts to alter that reality are futile.

These five points, while most common, are really only the tip of the iceberg. I could go on. I swear. For instance, ‘rubbernecking’ in Seattle is like nothing, NOTHING you’ve ever seen anywhere else. If someone dares change a tire on the side of the road here, traffic will stack up for 10 miles in all directions as every passing commuter slows down to bask in the disabled motorist’s misfortune. Talk about an easily amused populace.

And who can forget the absolutely ubiquitous left turn from the right lane, and right turn from the left lane?

Folks, when coming to an intersection, heed my advice … look both ways and do it often because the car in the lane to your left is just as likely to swerve in front of you to make a right turn as they are to make a left turn or continue going straight.  In Downtown Seattle, lane placement means NOTHING with regard to a driver’s intent, and turn signals? Well, on the rare occasion that you see one, you’re better off ignoring it altogether.  Trust me on this one.

This, my fellow Seattleites, is why the town is doomed to gridlock. Forever.  It’s the main reason that I stopped driving myself.  No longer do I own a car, and I doubt I ever will again. While it used to be entirely possible to drive in Seattle, and even downright pleasant at times, driving here is futile now, and the problem is out of our hands. It’s patently unfixable.

Now look, I’m not saying that Seattle drivers are stupid.  No, stupid would be one hell of a welcome improvement.  With the exception of their own immediate wants, they lack thought altogether.  They’re 200lb infants with driver’s licenses, for all intents and purposes, and they steadfastly refuse to even entertain the notion that they are the problem … that they are the cause of every traffic issue that we have. But, of course, they are.  Drivers ARE the traffic.

You see, we don’t have a shortage of roads, and a deep-bore tunnel under Downtown is not going to solve our transit problems. A new 520 bridge isn’t going to decrease commute times either, hell, 20 bridges across Lake Washington wouldn’t solve our issues.

99% of Seattle’s traffic woes are caused by poorly-skilled, self-centered, immature, special snowflake, inattentive drivers from outside of Seattle. People with little to no city driving experience, and people whom, when faced with yet another traffic jam … will routinely blame someone else (such as bicyclists or Mike McGinn). There is no amount of money we can throw at this problem to fix it, because you simply can’t fix stupid.

In order for regional transportation to work, a certain amount of cooperation, consideration, reason, and common-sense on the part of drivers is necessary.  They must be able to, at times, subvert their immediate wants to the needs of the greater good.  Seattle drivers are unable to do this.  Completely unable to do this.

And so, much like governments, people get the traffic that they deserve.  No matter what you do for them, they always, ALWAYS will.

Not long ago, I was driving home from the Eastside when I encountered the following sign on Bellevue Way:

No Train Sign in Bellevue

An hour later, I found myself sitting here:

Gridlock on Bridge

These two pictures really say it all.

I hang my keyboard.

230 comments to The Worst Drivers in America. A Dissertation.

  • Not a Hater

    Do drivers in Seattle use their horns (either appropriately or inappropriately)?

    • Seattle Rex Seattle Rex

      Stereotypes hold that they don’t, but most of those stereotypes were formed pre-1990. Remember, 50% of Seattle’s population growth in the past 30 years has come from California, and Californian’s are not known to be “polite” drivers.

      There is some periodic honking in Downtown Seattle and on the I5, although I will grant nowhere near as much as New York, Chicago, and other large cities.

      Non-downtown-adjacent areas of Seattle … such Ballard, Fremont, Crown Hill, Greenwood, etc … still experience remnants of polite driving. It’s actually quite a pleasure to drive north of the cut. Assuming you aren’t in a hurry.

      In my experience, the more expensive the car in Seattle, the more likely to honk and drive aggressively. BMW’s, Escalades, etc … almost never practice the polite, passive-aggressive habits that Seattle is famous for. They pretty much drive like LA drivers. Generally more technically skilled, but too fast, run lights, often quite rude, more likely to ignore pedestrian rights-of-way, flip you the bird, etc.

      Seattle is a real hodgepodge of terrible driving at both extremes shoved into a small isthmus. It really is unique in its badness.

      • Number Six

        Seattle drivers are pretty damn bad – but they are definitely 3rd place behind Utah and Florida – when you have people in their 90s (still) driving huge-ass 70s Oldsmobiles or dumb-F oversized Caddys – there’s going to be trouble. Both states have far more than their fair share of both. And at least Seattle/area has multiple bus options compared to those places too….


        • Luchog

          The problem with Seattle busses is that they go everywhere *except* where you need to go; and they change the routes every other year, so they don’t become too familiar or convenient.

    • c-doom

      The State Patrol here recently issued an order that said in effect if you honked your horn you were breaking the law, it was interpreted as a form of “road rage,” which is a ticketable offense. So, no, you don’t tend to honk much on I-5 or I-90 at least.

      As a 20 year resident who travels to other cities and drives on their freeways (16 cities in 2011) I can attest this piece is spot-on and accurate. Seattle drivers are really bad. Center lane asian grandma 20 mph under the limit. Left lane campers. People slowing down at the sight of a single raindrop. All manner of distracted driving from cell phones to rubbernecking. Random downtown land of the lost mistakes by out of town clueless commuters and tourists. CA knows how to drive, the east coast and chicago know how to drive. I can even go over to Spokane and Coeur d’Alene and find better interstate etiquette than I find here. It is a remarkable combination of incompetent and self-entitled here that just has to be experienced to be believed, and by experienced I mean you have to go someplace else, be familiar with how it is there, then come back. Just growing up here won’t cut it, you think you are fine but you’re not.

      • Missie

        I agree 100%. I have driven in Buffalo,Dallas, D.C. and now Seattle. If i had to rate them best to worst it would be in that order. Seattle has the most selfish, head up the bum, jerks from heck, when it comes to driving. I hate driving here. I usually take the bus or have hubby drive cause he has more patience.

      • Pil Bee

        Well said C-doom, I so happy to know that other people feel the way I do. I have preached these poor driving observations for the eleven years that I’ve lived here. I am sick of that grey-bearded, pony-tail-sporting, self-entitled moron driving 20 miles under in the fast lane. Seattle people also talk loudly and incessantly to strangers on planes, even at 6am in the morning. Wake up Seattle, there are other people trying behind you that have real work to do.

      • LAX-SEA

        The “Asian” comment is inappropriate…grandmother alone may suffice. Regardless of ethnicity, there is more than enough poorly skilled drivers of any skin color

        • Nic

          It may be offensive but it’s true none the less. Stereotypes don’t just appear out of thin air.

          • James

            Umm…NO, a stereotype does NOT make something true. I suggest you avail yourself of the many free online dictionaries.

            You are correct on stereotypes not appearing out of thin air. Stereotypes occur because of ignorant posts and unverified thought patterns by ignorant people who perpetuate them.

            • Jason

              Stereotypes develop because they are often true. And not all stereotypes are bad (Asians are good at math) or racial (teenagers are stupid and impulsive)

            • Luchog

              Older Asian and north African immigrant drivers are a big problem in the greater Seattle are. Not because of stereotypes; but because they come from driving cultures that are *hugely* different from American driving in general, let alone our special Seattle driving culture. They don’t always adapt well.

        • jackson

          Nobody said Asians are bad people of inferior in any way. They just can’t, and should not, drive automobiles on public roads. There should be a new penal code right up there with DWI. We’ll call it DWA – Driving While Asian.

    • Jeff Campbell

      I agree that driving in downtown Seattle is the worst place I’ve ever driven with the exception of Florence and Milan. I was born and raised in Seattle and can tell you that if you ask 100 people where they’re from, you may get 25 natives. My point is that 75% of these Seattle drivers have arrived from the places that you mention have good urban drivers. This leads me to believe that it is climate, coffee intake or poor urban street planning that makes Seattle such an aweful place to drive. I rarely go into town anymore…driving hell is one of the reasons!

      • dojj

        Oh no, Seattle is much worse than Florence or Milan. Italian drivers have an excellent sense of using space to their advantage and will take opportunities away from unsuspecting visitors. The only place (internationally) worse than Seattle is Beirut, and the only candidate for last place in the US is Florida as per another post in the blog. This blog nails it on the head as to all the reasons–but the Bozos don’t read this.

      • Luchog

        Another native Seattleite, who remembers the days of Emmet Watson’s Lesser Seattle campaign. I can recall when Seattle drivers were some of the most polite around, to the point of being a regular joke, and were voted among the best in the nation. Amazing the difference a few decades have made. And it’s really the influx of people who have done it; combined with an major upsurge in the entitlement attitude. People from many different parts of the US, used to different driving cultures, stuck into a big mishmash. And I’d fully agree with another commenter that it’s mainly the east-siders who are the biggest problems; what I call the East Side Entitlement Attitude. I work in Kirkland and live in Seattle; and most of the problems I see downtown I can directly link to the behaviour of drivers in the Bel-Red corridor. East-side rules seem to be that if you drive the biggest, most expensive car, then you have right of way regardless of the regulations or posted signs; that if your car is expensive enough the rules don’t apply to you; and you’re always more important than anyone else on the road, including pedestrians. They are simply incapable of merging or changing lanes normally; as if someone merging in front of them is a grave personal insult, regardless of precedence and traffic rules. After all, you’re more important than they are, who do they think they are. Of course, the appropriate response is to ride their bumper incessantly and rapidly swerve around them as soon as possible, then stomping on your brakes once you’re in front. There’s a reason that I405/I90 rarely goes a week without some sort of accident.

    • Eric Jones

      I agree with much of what you are saying, and as a biker I run into completely silly situations. For example, sometimes when crossing arterials cars headed one direction stop (halting the flow completely) to let me cross, but the traffic traveling the other direction have not stopped. What do I do, cross right into traffic, and yet the driver starts to get impatient because I have not taken advantage of their courtesy. Also, cars that have the right of way at uncontroled intersections confuse me because they stop dead. Even if they are to my right or have arrived earlier they wait for me. Just go! You were there first!

      But, I must agree with the other comment, the use of the “she” pronoun makes the article offensive. It is a generalization that people do not even think about sometimes. We equate bad drivers with women. It is a misogynistic mindset.

      Yesterday, I saw a person who had run over a stop sign on Ravenna where they are doing construction, I don’t know how they hit it… It was worth a picture.

      • Seattle Rex Seattle Rex

        But, I must agree with the other comment, the use of the “she” pronoun makes the article offensive.

        Actually, I hold quite the opposite opinion.

        I’ve been blogging for nearly 8 years, and until very recently, I always used the “he” pronoun when stating hypotheticals. Exclusively. When doing so, nobody, no one, not once, ever, objected to my doing so. And believe me when I tell you, a great many of those articles were quite negative.

        I believe this may have been the first article in which I used all female pronouns, and so far several people have taken offense. This is, in my opinion, offensive in and of itself.

        Coincidentally, I have an article upcoming about the rampant, blatant misandry in Washington State. Comments like this are actually timely, because I really think that they will serve to better make my points.

        Do you realize that men are routinely charged more by auto insurance companies solely because of their gender? Does this blatant stereotyping offend you?

        While picturing these traffic incidents in my mind, and believe me … they were based on actual incidents … the gender of the driver, when known, was female. As such, the correct pronouns were used in the article, and changing the pronouns would have been the sexist action to take.

        I respect your right to be offended, and I appreciate that you conveyed that to me, but I personally reject the notion that I should have used male pronouns simply because they are, for sexist reasons in and of themselves, less controversial.

        • Expatriot Mercer Islander

          I think you have understated the “Seattle Surrender” problem. In the years you’ve lived in seattle, have you never encountered a major windstorm or snowstorm where hoards of people abandoned their vehicles where they stopped on the roads?

          In growing up on Mercer Island, it was rare that I didn’t hear about numerous abandoned vehicles on the floating bridge(s) after severe weather. The news would often include comments like “Two days after the march 1st storm, the last of the abandoned vehicles has been cleared from I-90.”

    • Tim

      Rarely, as it’s illegal under state law to use your horn unless it’s an emergency.

  • Steve

    Horny drivers in Seattle? Maybe that explains it.

  • karentn

    I noticed you refer to all of the bad drivers as ‘she’. Did you actually observe a female in the driver’s seat in all of these examples, or are you just making assumptions?

    btw, that last picture really does make the Seattle area look beautiful, even with the traffic.

    • Chuckreis

      They were probably all Asian women

    • Seattle Rex Seattle Rex

      I noticed you refer to all of the bad drivers as ‘she’.

      They were fresh in my mind.

      The day I began writing this, I was driving down Seneca Street, when a woman in front of me simply stopped at a green light at Seneca/Second Avenue. I was in a hurry, and in no mood for that shit on this particular day, so I immediately laid on my horn.

      The woman didn’t budge.

      Finally, the car behind me joined in, and began honking. Then a Metro bus behind both of us hit his horn. It got quite noisy, but the woman just at there. Frozen in fear, panic, apathy, I don’t know.

      Eventually, she pulled into the left crosswalk, nearly hitting a pedestrian. At least when she parked in the crosswalk, the rest of us could go. I’ve no idea what happened to her after that.

      About one hour later, I was sitting at the light at Blanchard and Westlake, second in line behind a woman in a compact car. When the light turned green, she didn’t budge.

      I gave my horn a quick “beep”.


      I gave it two in a row … “beep beep”.


      Finally, I laid on my horn … “beeeeeeeeep”.

      I sat and watched in awe as the confused woman looked left, looked right, looked in her mirrors, then craned her neck to see behind her. She heard the beeping, and she desperately wanted to see where the commotion was coming from.

      Finally, she realized that it was me who was beeping. She looked into her rear-view mirror, put up both hands beside her head, and angrily mouthed the word “what is your problem?!”

      A few seconds later, she looked up and noticed that the light was yellow. A half-second after it turned red, she hit the gas, causing another car to slam on his brakes to avoid t-boning her.

      I got to sit and wait for another 3 minutes.

      While all of our drivers are very bad, in my experience, the most extreme incidents of surrender are typically perpetrated by women.

      Don’t shoot the messenger, for I didn’t make it so.

  • Be Fair

    I agree 100%, and in fact experienced that EXACT SAME event on 1st ave this week in the same stretch, to a fucking T…

    But I say be fair because that green car clearly has out of state plates, so not a seattle driver technically.

    • Seattle Rex Seattle Rex

      I disagree somewhat.

      The drivers in Downtown Seattle who live in the Seattle city limits are few. Perhaps 10% – 15%.

      Most “Seattle drivers” are from the Washington suburbs, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska. You can’t just throw them out and say “well, driving Downtown isn’t so bad because most people are from out of town.” That is the main reason they are so bad.

      • RikRok

        Don’t blame Oregonians for this. Even a licensed driver needs to take a written test to get an Oregon license. They drive slowly but not poorly.

  • Ktown

    Drivers in Seattle are the worst! So many
    variables; poorly designed freeways, bad on and
    off ramps, poor commuter transit, politeness
    turned passive-aggressive, and bad
    peripheral vision are but a few….
    Thank God for the medical marijuana or the
    road rage would be rampant!

    • Molly

      Everyone driving stoned is probably part of the problem!

    • agaace

      I moved to Seattle from Europe. I’m used to driving the European way – dynamically, yet not aggressively. Fast decision making is the key of a good driver, that’s it. 99.99% Seattle drivers would have simply never passed their driver license test in Europe. In my country some people attempt the test 10-15 times, until they finally get the rules. In my country, if you go too slow or indecisive at your exam – you fail. If you stay in the left lane for 3 seconds too long, you fail. If you fail to join traffic in a reasonable amount of time, you fail. If you stop when you are supposed to go, you fail. Plus the exam is taken in one particular model of a car and it’s always manual transmission, so you have to know how to drive the stick. When I move to Seattle I needed to pass the test to get my licence. It was just ridiculuosly easy. My mother who hasn’t driven a car in 30 years would have passed this test. Make driving tests more challenging, require actual skills to drive. There will be fewer left lane campers, surrenders, which will lead to less road rage (the people like me who tailgate when a dude on left lane is doing 30mph on a 45mph limit). This will also lead to fewer accidents and less traffic. There is solution, it’s just not gonna happen.

  • Seattle Rex Seattle Rex

    I just came back from running a quick errand on my scooter. As I was coming back on Bellevue St., two women in a white car in front of me came to a full and complete stop at the light at Bellevue & Pine.

    The light was green.

    I hit my whimpy little Yamaha horn, but they didn’t move, so I ended up going around them and through the light.

    I really cannot overstate just how widespread the “Surrender” phenomenon truly is.

    • Luchog

      I don’t think “surrender” is quite the right term. I think most often it’s a case of “Where the hell am I?” Settle City government seems to have a morbid fear of street signs, and *if* they exist, they’re small and nearly unreadable. I know if I drive in an area of Seattle unfamiliar to me, I have a difficult time trying to figure out exactly where I’m at.

  • Kel

    Loved this post! Hubby and I moved up from AZ 7 1/2 years ago. First we were amazed at how people for the most part drove at or close to the speed limit on the freeways. Freeway drivers in PHX drive as fast as they can get away with. Then we just couldn’t understand how anyone could get around because the signage is terrible here. “OH, here’s where you want to exit!” None of the forewarning signs that we were used to.
    Now we live over in Redmond and unless we are bringing the whole fam, Hubs and I just come over on Sound Transit. It’s easier just to walk or bus around downtown then to be one of those who “surrender.” Navigating the hills and one-way streets are not easy. So if you end up behind a white, 15-passenger van with a bunch of kids, usually up around Seattle Center, stopped in front of you, give us a good honk. 😀

  • jocelyn

    I commute from Shoreline to Bellevue in sports car that never gets to drive fast enough. I generally do fine downtown except I have to remember pedestrians don’t like getting run over :p on the freeway I hate the “lane of destiney ” phenomenon. People have to change lanes as early as possible to avoid any mergering. Instead offers “zipper merging”, people crowd the lane, leaving a mile of empty road ahead. And if, God forbid, you decide to wait and merge later, as the highway engineers designed, you are considered “cutting”in line. And better sure as heck wave “thank you” to the incredibly generous, kind person who lets you over!(as Boeing taught us!)

  • Cheesewheels

    I tend to agree, but I’ll say that Portland drivers exhibit the same behavior, only moreso. In addition, their roads are so much worse.

  • Doobie

    I’m originally from the south and my wife and i moved to Seattle 5 years ago. Literally from the 1st moment I hit I-5 after leaving SeaTac I could tell that drivers in this city were horrible. I shake my head every single day at the insane stupidity of people and can’t figure out how they are legally allowed to eat by themselves let alone drive a vehicle. I’ve driven across this wonderful country multiple times and have experienced driving in the majority of major cities and I can say that NONE come close to the insanity that is a Seattle driver.

  • Rev En Fuego

    You pretty much nailed it on the head, and my head hits the desk in frustration at the sheer memory of it. You *only* covered city driving too … didn’t mention the fact that people in this lovely state have no idea how to freeway drive. Do you want to get somewhere at a normal time? Don’t try to use the passing lane because inevitably there will be a jackknob who has decided that it’s their right and privilege to drive in the passing lane at 60 miles per hour. Oh, and you’re the one who is bothering THEM when you have to pass them on the inside lane.


    • M. Davis

      You have a problem with people obeying the laws that state one must drive the speed limit? Because you choose to drive illegally by exceeding the speed limit of 60 mi/hr is not the other persons fault nor their responsibility. It is their ‘right and privilege’ to drive safely, legally and responsibly and adhere to the driving rules implemented by the government. If society felt it was safe for the situation and conditions of the road the speed limit would be different and that driver would be driving at the appropriately posted speed limit. You don’t have the right or privilege to endanger others lives driving recklessly by exceeding the speed limit. That lane is not a you pick the speed that amuses you lane, you’re still obligated to obey traffic laws such as the determined speed limit. I’m a CA driver of sorts and I choose to drive whatever speed I can get away with as is the norm in CA but I don’t get road rage over the people who drive correctly and obey the laws because I know I’m the one who is electing to break the law. If I want to break the law that is my prerogative but I don’t take out my choice of stupidity on those with more sense than I, I simply go around and about my business and let them do their thing.

      • BayvilleBoy

        And thus M. Davis supplies the proof for the article.

      • Andrew

        Actually it is against Washington State law to sit in the left lane. It is by law for passing only. The drivers that either through sheer ignorance or self-righteousness speed-match the car to their right, thereby holding up traffic are performing an illegal action and will be ticketed. Keep right except to pass is the law, and it is very definitely enforced. Try driving past a Stater on eastern I-90 going 80 MPH, then do the same at 70 but while sitting in the left lane holding up traffic. You will get the ticket for blocking, not speeding.

  • Eskimama

    Rev En Fuego: I believe those jackknobs are referred to as Washington’s state vegetable.

    Rex, you missed the classic “Last-Minute Left” move, which occurs when the idiot stopped at the light in front of you in the left lane of a four-lane road decides to indicate left AFTER the light changes to green, trapping you behind them for an entire signal cycle, since Seattle drivers are deathly afraid of turning left and will only do so when there’s no visible oncoming traffic. Not to mention the inability of Seattle drivers to pull forward into the goddamn intersection for left turns, so as to permit more turning traffic to make the lights.

    I used to live in MA, and thought Massholes were bad (and they are), but these people badly need a serious smacking.

    • SPRUNT

      In the same sense, there is the Left Lane-Right Turn asshats. Those that stay in the left lane through 2-3 light cycles while in traffic, then turn on their right-turn signal (if you’re lucky) and try to turn onto the road that’s 20 feet in front of them.

      And god forbid you are in the right lane and you stop to allow these jackholes to turn for the sake of the traffic behind you. You instantly make 2 full lanes of enemies because they can’t stand that you allowed someone to get out of the herd. And now all those people behind you want to, nay, NEED TO get around you because you obviously have no idea how to drive.

  • Elaine

    Ha! I’m a born and bred Seattle native and I’ve seen all of these behaviors in the wild. I used to think the ‘surrender’ behavior was just tourists trying to read the street signs, blindly looking for the ‘place where they throw the fish’, but it happens too often to just be tourists.

    Then there’s the Eastside dudebro phenomenon where you’ll be toodling along the freeway with all lanes open and some dudebro in a hugeass SUV comes along and parks himself right in front of you, slowing down as he does it. If you pass him, he’ll just pass you and do it again! It’s like he can’t stand being behind anyone, but he needs someone to be right behind him. It’s weird. Then the dudebros all come over to downtown Seattle on Friday and Saturday nights and make everything extra fun.

  • Philip

    I have driven in some of the worlds most notorious cities (Paris, Rome, Madrid, Tel Aviv, Berlin, Munich, etc, etc). As a Seattle native, I am within my rights to say that I 100% agree with this article! The drivers in Seattle are the most oblivious, self absorbed, unskilled imbeciles I have ever seen. Thankfully, I am 1 of the 50 drivers in the PNW that understands what a turn signal is for, what the differences are between merge, yield and stop, what the left lane is actually for (yes – it is a passing lane), what to do when I am driving and someone is on my tail (move to the right), etc. It’s partly the Department of Licensing in our fair State – they give a license to anyone, apparently, and have forgotten that driving is an earned privilege, not a constitutional right. Idiots.

    • Luchog

      1 in 50 understand what a turn signal is for? I only wish it was that many. Very few drivers here have any clue what a turn signal means; and even fewer bother to use them.

      Part of the problem is that we don’t really do driver testing anymore. All of that is contracted out to private driving schools. If you have a certificate from one of them, you get a license. So there are a lot of drivers who would have never passed the standard tests I took when I first got my license.

  • Gatsbo

    Thanks to the commenters. Any discussion of Seattle driving has to include the 60 mph vigilantes in the left lanes of the freeway. They’re the ones with the ‘don’t tailgate’ bumper stickers.

    I think the Seattle Surrender is all those people approaching a green light who are apparently afraid it will turn yellow at the point they wont know if they should stop or go through. So, they go slower and slower to make sure the light will turn red and they can wait for it. That’s my only explanation for why these people slow down approaching a GREEN light.

  • Dan

    Not to forget the 30-second brake check that occurs on the freeways. If they haven’t hit their brakes in the last 30-seconds, they do so.

    As far as recent populations coming from CA, 80% of those are actually WA natives returning home.

    Regardless, it makes me ashamed to be from Seattle. I spent 23 years in Los Angeles before returning to WA in 1990. Horn use was the same in both areas during my times in them. But the general lack of awareness here is amazing.

    I do have an alternate theory about why, opposing or perhaps complimenting the Rural theory. Mental Problems. The Pac NW has more cases of Bi-Polar & Schizophrenia than any other part of the world. And one of the common symptoms of Bi-Polar is being a controller. So to me it’s no surprise that there are a lot of people who feel they are entitled to the passing lane regardless of their speed and/or the flow of traffic. As well as the parking attempt described in the article. They are just more important than us. If you don’t believe me, just ask THEM! :)

    • Ihateseattletoo

      Kudos for mentioning the brake check! On highway 18 or I-90, they go under the speed limit and do frequent brake taps 20 times a minute without it having any noticeable control on speed or anyone in front of them.

  • brad

    Nobody understands the left lane on 5 is the passing lane either. All lanes, cars going the same speed (ranging from 45 to 55). Long line of cars waiting for the left lane to get moving and 50 mph driver just spacing out. Or better yet intentionally sitting in the left lane driving very slowly because they believe everyone should drive the same speed as them. Then get angry if anybody makes an attempt to pass them creating dangerous driving for everyone cause you have the left lane slow poke and the person who is swerving 2-3 lanes to get around that slow poke.

  • Tracy

    No doubt that Seattle/WA is the worst place to drive. Ever since I moved here from NY state a few years, driving around drives me nuts! Though I don’t get as worked up as I used to. Take highway as an example, people slow down to merge onto highway! or they immediatly move to passing (left) lane, then drive 60miles per hour. And all those left lane campers on highway! People don’t use inner lane to pass the slow car in front of them, they just follow – passing one car needs a lot less room from the inner lane than trying to pass five cars in a row! So everyone is stuck. Or in the traffic jam or misty rain, you always see people leaving 10-20 cars distance in front of them, greatly reduce the throughput of the highway. No wonder we have traffic jam! This list can go on and on.

    I know that people say, oh, many people here are transplants, why don’t they drive better? Well, it doesn’t take much to disrupt the flow of traffic. A small percentage of bad driving has a big impact on the traffic flow and force other people to drive the way they normally wouldn’t.

  • wrath00

    This is a good article and I can’t disagree with it. Imagine being a pedestrian in a wheelchair trying to get around downtown with these inattentive jackholes. If I had $1 for every time somebody paying more attention to *anything* else aside from actually driving safely (food, makeup, phone, etc etc ad infinitum), I could buy myself a new nervous system and no longer need the chair.

    I have a driver’s license, but I’ve no desire to use it – not only for financial considerations (read: I ain’t payin’ $5/gallon for gas, folks), but mostly because I’m afraid I’d kill someone. And by that, I don’t mean with the car.

  • Whatever

    I have no problems driving in Seattle except for the dam bicyclists they are the main problem since they never follow any of the road rules (laws of which they feel they are except until my tire trend is on their back)and cause drivers to slam on the breaks to avoid hitting them as they run a red light or stop sign ect.

  • Kate

    why do you keep referring to all of the bad drivers as “her” or “she?”

  • Native

    “…Up ahead, a driver has her reverse lights on. You see, she spotted an empty parking space, and just like her Driver’s Ed teacher at Bumbletwat High School taught her, she is trying to back into it…”

    You don’t indicate whether the driver signaled her intention and angled her car as she stopped. If she did so, it’s the idiot driver BEHIND her who failed to give her room to back up. Should we all give up trying to get any empty parking spaces just to keep traffic flowing at the speed limit and keep you happy? And no, driving forward into a one-car parking space is rarely an intelligent option.

    Perhaps you should go back to driver’s ed at “Bumbletwat” yourself before you start lecturing US.

    • Seattle Rex Seattle Rex

      “…Up ahead, a driver has her reverse lights on. You see, she spotted an empty parking space, and just like her Driver’s Ed teacher at Bumbletwat High School taught her, she is trying to back into it…”
      You don’t indicate whether the driver signaled her intention and angled her car as she stopped. If she did so, it’s the idiot driver BEHIND her who failed to give her room to back up. Should we all give up trying to get any empty parking spaces just to keep traffic flowing at the speed limit and keep you happy? And no, driving forward into a one-car parking space is rarely an intelligent option.

      Perhaps you should go back to driver’s ed at “Bumbletwat” yourself before you start lecturing US.”


      Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, a Seattle driver.

      Lest you figured there was any exaggeration whatsoever in my article.

      Oy. Here we go again. One more time …

      Drivers aren’t entitled to any space they see, just because it’s vacant.

      Say it with me everyone.

      “I’m not entitled to a parking space just because it exists.”

      Louder this time.


      If you are in heavy, gridlocked traffic, and the space you want is too small for you to nose into, at least to wait … it is not the space for you. Not at this time. Go around the block, and if traffic clears up, it’s yours … but if you have to block traffic in order to back up, and there is more than a couple of cars behind you, that space is not for you. Keep going. You win some, you lose some.

      Of course you should give up the space to keep traffic flowing. It’s pretty much the law everywhere.

      RCW 46.61.570 Stopping, standing, or parking prohibited in specified places — Reserving portion of highway prohibited.(1) Except when necessary to avoid conflict with other traffic, or in compliance with law or the directions of a police officer or official traffic control device, no person shall [park, stand, or stop]: (vi) Alongside or opposite any street excavation or obstruction when stopping, standing, or parking would obstruct traffic;

      It’s only truly relevant in the inner-city, but technically, this goes for any street in Washington, and believe it or not, even tiny Snoqualmie has its own, redundant ordinance:

      10.08.015 Obstructing traffic.No person shall stop, stand or park any vehicle upon any street in a manner which obstructs or otherwise interferes with traffic upon the traveled portion of the roadway. (Ord. 549 § 1, 1985).

      If you can maneuver into the space without obstructing traffic, then congratulations, you are the proud renter of a public parking space. Pay the meter and be happy.

      If getting into that space causes you to obstruct traffic, however, then you are not entitled to park in that space. It does not matter that the space is open. It does not matter that the space has a big, flashing arrow over it saying “park here!” You cannot block all of the lanes of travel on a public road for your parking convenience. It does not matter that you flipped your turn signal on, stuck your hand out the window, or got out and jumped up and down on the hood of your car screaming “I want that space, I want that space!” You are not entitled to it just because it exists, and expecting the 20 cars behind you to throw their cars into reverse so that you can park is not reasonable (nor is it legal). If you want the spot, and traffic is truly heavy, the sacrifice is yours to make, not everyone else’s.

      This is why every lifelong urban-dweller that I know, without any exception whatsoever, has learned how to reserve a curbside spot without obstructing traffic. It’s a part of inner-city living. A right of passage. It’s a necessary skill that everyone learns. It typically involves swinging into the space, and using many small turns to straighten up, or getting as far into the space as possible, waiting for traffic to clear, then coming out of the spot, and parallel parking into it.


      Because the lane of travel has the right of way, in the direction of the lane of travel. If you have a need to drive opposite of the direction of travel (reverse), you may only do so when it is reasonably clear and prudent to do so.

      Remember, rules on public streets are not the same as they are in the Walmart parking lot. Walmart is private property. You can hold everyone up for as long as you damn well please, and little can be done about it.

      Public streets are different. On a public street, you cannot hold up traffic just because you spotted an open parking space. This is why I think there should be a different class of license of inner-city driving. Driver’s Ed teachers clearly do not teach this type of thing. They only teach parallel parking as a one-size-fits-all solution.

      Now, I will grant you that getting a ticket for holding up traffic to parallel park is rare. Most drivers tolerate it to one extent or another, and most Seattle drivers, also being from the ‘burbs, are especially forgiving. It doesn’t mean that, when it doesn’t work out, that the people behind you are idiots, however. It doesn’t mean that you are right and they are wrong.

      I know someone (a friend of mine from Olympia) who got a ticket last year for doing exactly this. She was trying to parallel park in the middle of rush hour, it took her one too many attempts, pissed off a cop several car lengths behind her, and she got a ticket.

      For what?

      Obstructing traffic.

      I didn’t ask her if she called the cop an idiot for not seeing her turn signal, but I’m going to guess that she didn’t.

      By the way, obstructing traffic is considered a moving violation, not a parking violation, and you will get points for it.

      “But, but, Rex, you don’t understand, I’m me! Since the day I was born, I’ve been watching a non-stop movie, and that movie has starred me! Don’t you recognize me?! I’m special! Everyone says so!”

      I know. It hardly seems right, does it? That the same laws the apply to others, also apply to you?

      What can I tell you, though. The world is an unjust place.

      • Michael Caine

        Actually the person obstructing traffic IS the one that pulled up to close to the car that was trying to park. If a cop actually tried to ticket me for obstructing traffic while I was trying to park and couldn’t because the car behind me was tailgating, I will have no problems getting it thrown out by the Magistrate.

        And yes, the state law on how to parallel park is to back into the parking spot. If you have any questions, please refer to page 44 of the Washington State’s Driver Guide. I would have posted it but it is only available as a PDF, Kindle or Nook file and can not copy and paste it.

        • Seattle Rex Seattle Rex

          99% of Seattle’s traffic woes are caused by poorly-skilled, self-centered, inattentive drivers from outside of Seattle. People with little to no city driving experience, and people whom, when faced with yet another traffic jam … will routinely blame someone else (such as bicyclists or Mike McGinn). There is no amount of money we can throw at this problem to fix it, because you simply can’t fix stupid.

          Was I right or what?

          Saying that you will have something thrown out by a Magistrate in the comment section of a blog, and having something thrown out by a Magistrate, are two different things. Very, very different things. Trust me on this one.

          11.72.040 Blocking or obstructing traffic—Occupied vehicle.

          No person shall stop, stand or park a vehicle and remain therein upon or along any street when traffic will be unreasonably obstructed. Violation of this section constitutes a moving traffic violation rather than a parking violation. (RCW 46.61.560)

          Again, just because a space exists, does not mean that you have any and all rights to occupy that space under all circumstances.

          A big problem with parallel parking in Seattle is that, much like driving, Seattle drivers are not very good at it. They try to get into spaces that are too small for them (suburbanites love their SUV’s), and because of this, they hold up traffic for an inordinate amount of time.

          Contrary to what may be the status-quo in Bellevue, you are not entitled to block a city street during rush hour by making 15 attempts to squeeze your Range Rover into a small spot just because you need to get to Forever 21 before it closes.

          You might be ticketed (the odds are very small, but they are greater than zero), and if you do, my money is on that ticket being sustained.

          Also, if you will indulge me for a moment … LOL @ “tailgating”.

          I’m going to guess that you are not a frequent inner-city driver.

          “But your honor, he was a-tailgatin’ me on Pike Street!”

          If that case ever gets on the docket, please do be good enough to drop me a quick email.

          • Michael Caine

            Actually, since my Mother in Law lives above Pike Place Market and my wife has severe RA and is unable to walk more than 100 feet without needing to sit down, I am frequently having to park there. As to getting tickets thrown out by the Magistrate, I am 4 for 4, since I was following the laws of both the state and the city each time.

            It may come as a surprise to you, based upon your comment, but the Drivers Guide is written based upon the laws of the state. In fact, one of those laws proscribes vehicles from being close enough to the vehicle in front of you that would create problems such as not being able to properly parallel park as defined by the laws of the state. Oh and if you think looping around the block is a way to avoid the situation and be able to park in the spot, you are the one that doesn’t visit that area very often.

            In general, I agree with you on just about every other complaint you have. If anything, I believe you left out some of the more annoying traits. Such as when approaching a curve, even the most minor of one, and even if you are already going 20 mph or more below the speed limit you have to slow down even further as the the cars ahead of you hit their brakes. Or the habit that most of the drivers in the area have of slowing down to merge or change lanes.

            However, on dealing with parallel parking the method you are describing is more likely to cause traffic to back up as it is more likely to have the car’s back end sticking out in traffic and the driver unable to correct because that same tailgater has effectively locked them into that position.

            • Michael Caine

              We got 4 tickets because SPD conveniently forgets that Seattle has a law that allows the disabled to not have to worry about about exceeding the time limits on street parking. As to which version of driver I am, I have never gotten a ticket for a moving violation ever and the only accident I have been in was due to equipment failure. The fabric on my visor fell off and made it so I couldn’t see anything in front of me. In the half a second that it took to reach up and rip the fabric from in front of me the line of cars in front of me slammed on their brakes so that I managed to hit the car in front of me at the high end speed of 15 mph. Even more screwball, my Taurus fiberglass front end shattered and the only damage on the vehicle in front of me was a piece of that fiberglass punched through his fiberglass bumper. The repair shop was laughing about the fact that they didn’t even need to replace the bumper as the speed of the collision was well below the threshold that the bumper is designed to deflect. They just had to replace the fiberglass facing that had a piece of my fiberglass facing that pierced it.

              So in your 25 years of driving, can you claim that you have never gotten a ticket for speeding, impeding traffic, making an illegal turn or any other sort of moving violation. I can. Mainly because I make it a point of know exactly what the laws of the areas I live in and are likely to drive in and follow them.

              And as to parking nose first, try it the next time you take your drivers test and see if the inspector agrees with you.

              • I have never gotten a ticket for a moving violation ever and the only accident I have been in was due to equipment failure.

                LOL. But of course. Has an anonymous Internet commenter ever been at fault for anything?

                Kind of went without saying.

                And as to parking nose first, try it the next time you take your drivers test and see if the inspector agrees with you.

                Here in the big city, driving inspectors don’t write the law, and “my driving inspector in Kent told me I should do this” is not a legal defense. I rather doubt that a driving instructor would take you Downtown during rush hour anyway.

                Driving in an urban core requires a completely different skill set than driving in the country or suburbs, and the vast majority of those driving in Downtown Seattle, even as I type this, are completely lacking in those skills. Your comments indicate the you fall squarely into this group, and are thus a contributing factor to Seattle’s gridlock when you come here.

                That you are convinced of your correctness only compounds the problem, yet, when the topic of gridlock comes up in the future, it is beyond all doubt that you will point the finger at everyone else. This is why, regardless of how much money we spend building roads, gridlock will continue.

                Bottom line: I see now why you got 4 tickets.

                Even though none of them were, you know, your fault *wink wink nudge nudge*

  • bazzer

    Some of these numbers seem to be silly exaggerations, but it’s absolutely true seattle drivers are the worst. I’ve been driving in seattle for most of the last 17-years, and it’s only gotten worse. I would say that honking and road rage have increased dramatically, and I blame the california imports.

    That all said though, the writer forgot the absolute worst drivers In Seattle – cabbies! Seeing a cab driving within its lane boundaries is downright shocking, and they often stop and start multiple times in a block, when there aren’t even potential fares around.

    Also, even bicyclists in Seattle are bad riders, as you can barely walk a block downtown without a bicyclist almost plowing over you. And then there’s the pedestrians absorbed in their phones crossing in front of green lights.

    It’s not just the drivers, there is a general disregard for the rules of the road.

  • baselle

    Thank you so much for this. Seattle drivers are absolutely the worst drivers ever and they have been for quite awhile. In 1987 my boyfriend at the time came out here on I 90. Within 5 seconds after coming out from the tunnel – someone did the Seattle Surrender. I always thought it was due to the battle of at least 4 different driving styles: the east coast aggressive, the midwest passive, the californian aggressive, the native Seattle …. well who knows. Usually if one driving style gets established other drivers coming from other places either take on the usual driving style or they leave or they don’t drive. Not so in Seattle, and if no one driving style gets established you bring your own.

  • CorporateSlave

    Kudos to you for this article, sir. Kudos. And a thousand thank you’s for the term “Seattle Surrender”. I shall be using this often, because it so perfectly describes the idiocy I see when I drive downtown.

    I’ve lived here my whole life and commute regularly to downtown Seattle. Hell, I learned to drive in this city. But what I’ve encountered in the last ten years makes me wonder how some of these people’s parents didn’t simply eat their young because they were too stupid to survive, let alone drive a vehicle.

    Between drivers pulling into the crosswalk when the “Walk” sign is clearly lit and barely refraining from bouncing pedestrians off their hoods, drivers cutting off Metro, Sound and Community Transit buses, and drivers simply stopping in the middle lane on 4th, I’m battleworn before I even hit the freeway.

    And then the fun begins. Oh, the joy of left lane campers who are going to keep everyone doing three miles below 60 because “it’s my right and it’s the law, damn it!”. Oh, the absolute thrill of slowing down to snail speed to watch some moron getting a ticket (although lord knows the reason for the ticket. It certainly isn’t for speeding). And let’s not forget the elation of HOV lane violators, cell-phone chatters, folks who read/eat/shave/put on makeup/write the great American novel while operating a 3,000 pound motor vehicle.

    By the time I get home, I want to kick puppies and rip the heads off Barbie dolls.

  • Yogi-B

    One type of driver not discussed in this piece is the “early merger” and their tenancies to drive down the middle of the road once they merge (an average of 500 feet early, usually cutting someone off in the process), blocking both lanes and all who try to pass and merge in the appropriate place, causing further back-ups and delays. This driver is most commonly found on the I-90 / I-5 north interchange, in any and all construction zones where a lane is blocked, or on any given on-ramp during rush hour traffic.

  • Pandora

    I am not going to defend Seattle’s driving… because I happen to agree at least in part. Seattle cannot merge to save their lives… like getting on or off ramps to the highway.

    Another part of me sympathizes with Seattle drivers. There is constant road work going on everywhere, so nothing remains the same for a long time. You cannot depend on the direction you might be going, because from one day to the next there may be orange cones blocking a favorite route or a habitual lane.

    I do take exception to the rumor that Seattle cannot drive in snow. Hello! The rest of the country doesn’t either! Some states have it worse… like Minnesota, The Dakotas, etc. The exception is the people in those other states won’t even try. They just decide to stay home bound. It is not like that in Seattle one bit. We have too many ambitious people here that those who do venture out on the roads during snow risk themselves (and others)… and we don’t get very many snow days here at all, truthfully. Not compared to Minnesota or the Dakotas. So if we do have snowy conditions, who are you to say we’re the worst drivers when 1, we aren’t as accustomed to it as some other states… 2, we’re so ambitious that we just have to try to get from a to b no matter what?

    • Chassily

      Ahh, Pandora, sorry, I have to disagree with you there. I’m a CA native, but we lived in Wisconsin for several years before moving to the Pacific Northwest. We happened to move there during a record-breaking snow year, and I can attest that NOTHING stops for snow in the upper midwest unless it’s a storm of biblical proportions. If it did, nothing would ever get done. The difference is they have the infrastructure in place to properly deal with the roads. It’s not financially feasible for western WA to stock the number of snow plows, de-icers, etc., for them to handle the job properly the few times we get enough snow and/or ice here for the roads to really be a problem.

      On top of that, the natives in the upper midwest have grown up driving in those conditions, so they’re pretty competent, overall. :) I don’t think it’s ambition that gets the Seattle-ites onto the roads in bad conditions, it’s foolishness. If they’d think first, they’d realize trying to navigate Queen Anne Hill under several inches of ice, which they are not used to navigating, is NOT a good idea and telecommute for the day.

      • Wisconsinite

        Quite correct. I lived in LA for many years, and only got bothered by rainy day drivers. When I moved to Seattle, it just took me one trip to downtown to refuse to ever drive in downtown Seattle. (Vancouver BC is the same). It always amused me the times I saw bicycle SPD pull over drivers on the Ave for honking their horn at other drivers. I’ve lived in Wisconsin for the past decade, and it’d take a foot of un-plowed snow for me to miss work. The only time I couldn’t was when out of state semis tried driving the interstate during a major snowfall without chains, and blocking all lanes. (And I got chewed out the next day by my boss for missing work).

  • Susan

    I totally agree with this and the comments (dudebro is my daily travel companion). I commute on I-405 daily and see it there too. They can’t all be tourists. The worst case was a guy who came to a full stop for no reason ON THE FREEWAY when traffic was going 40 mph…and sat there for several minutes, despite people honking at him. Did he spot an unicorn or something? No clue.

  • Drew K

    Don’t forget about these two gems:

    1) The Lane Change: Seattle people are the WORST drivers in the world at changing lane. I would guess it accounts for just around 40% of all traffic in Seattle. Two things happen when changing lanes:

    a) The person attempt to change lanes slows to either a crawl or a complete stop with the blinker on, waiting for someone to let them in … but needs at least 6-100 car lengths in order to feel comfortable making the move.

    b) The person changing lanes doesnt look and thinks the blinder wins… but then the driver behind that person (assuming they dont crash) doesn’t just let off the gas and get angry … no no, they slam on their brakes as if the law at all time requires at least 20 car lengths between you and the car in front of you.

    2) One-at-a-time: This is when a light turns green and everyone in line at the light has to wait until every single car in front of them has at least 2 cars of distance before they start driving … therefore, getting through a normal light that might allow 10 cars through, now only allows 5 …

  • Steve

    Thanks for the article. I’m in agreement – Seattle – least-skilled, least conscientious, least attentive drivers that I’ve experienced anywhere I’ve been on the Globe. My favorite is when a highway driver pulls over, and the the next two sheep-piloted cars follow, sit for a few seconds, then wake up, shake heads, and pull out around the parked first car to target the next shepherd-bumper.

  • Biskethed

    Lived in California for 15 years, drove long haul truck 48 states and Canada for 2 years, learned to drive in Michigan. Seattle is the worst hands down.

  • Jonathan

    Amusing yes, but are all of these examples downtown?

    I live in Seattle and never bother driving downtown for a variety of reasons, primarily, because it’s impossible to turn right or left most times because of steady pedestrian traffic, because there’s no place to park that’s not outrageously expensive, and because you only get to go one block at a time before the next light turns red. I thought it was pretty much understood only people from the burbs (and out of state) were wasting time driving downtown instead of going by bus/bike/walking.

  • Cat

    This is very true about Seattle drivers, but they aren’t the worst. Albuquerque New Mexico takes that cake. I have never feared for my life like I did while driving in that state.

  • Peter

    Rex, you hit the nail on the head. I feel so validated. I want to make a sign in my rear driver side window that says “left lane only for overtaking” so that they can read it when I overtake them on the right. Which I do all the time.

    You probably don’t hit many 4way stop signs because I can not count the times when I arrive as the third or fourth car and watch while the other ones look at each other for 5 seconds to decide who goes first, then they both go, then they both stop, then they both go, etc etc. Now, I come up to that, I wait 2 seconds, then I go, and they start yelling. I find that satisfying.

    THE BEST THING IN THE WORLD IS THE 520 TOLL. It seems like it removed all the idiots from the road, who are presumable also the same who think that they save money by taking the 90 (PSSSST!!!)

  • Lukey

    Two things-

    1) Do Seattle drivers think they live until they are 1000? This is the only explanation I can think of as to why driving 15 miles under the speed limit is a-ok?

    2) How about Seattle drivers who enjoy leaving 30 feet of space between them and all other surroundings.

    These drivers love stopping 30 feet before a crosswalk, which does not signal the light so the light never changes – or if they are in traffic they go slow and keep everyone around them at least 30 feet apart. The gerbil running on the wheel in the back of their head is screaming “whatever you do DONT KEEP UP WITH TRAFFIC”

    I see this roughly twenty times a day and it causes serious backups – not because there is traffic but rather because a group of drivers has enacted the 30 foot rule as they barrel down the rode going ten miles under the speed limit. Im convinced its some sort of colony or association called the 30 foot club. Oh god is someone crossing the street 100 feet ahead? I better slow down and stop about 50 feet before I get to them………

    • Daniel Mimura

      Woah! I forgot about this aspect of bad Seattle drivers… The name of it is good too, like The Seattle Surrender. The 30 Foot Rule.

      As a motorcyclist, I find it especially infuriating. If I’m the very first person at a light…I don’t weigh enough to trigger the light (don’t get me started—it’s yet another aggravating part of driving in Seattle)…but no one will pull up closer. I gesture to the light, I gesture to the pressure plate, I yell through my helmet if their window happens to be open…I motion them to pull up closer…and they just won’t do it.

      One time, I dismounted, ran over to the crosswalk and pushed it, just to turn the light green.

  • Mike

    You forgot the other type of Seattle driver you find at backed up green lights (The scenario where you’re stopped across an intersection, waiting for room to open up on the far side so you don’t block the intersection).

    The assholes to your right, who are trying to turn right into the same line you’re in. They turn and look at you “OH hey! That guy is stopped way over there, I’ll just slip in!” And there goes the spot that was opening up for you to make it across the intersection. You can honk at them and they get all confused. What did they do wrong? You were the one sitting there, so far away on the other side of the intersection, right?

    You also failed to cover the “OH MY GOD IM IN THE RIGHT LINE AND I WANT TO TURN LEFT” crowd. They do one of two things:
    1) Immediately fling their wheel to the left and cut across 2-4 lanes of traffic, regardless of what is in them
    2) Slam on their breaks and throw on their turn signal as they come to a complete halt in the middle of the lane, backing up traffic until someone in the next lane(s) over lets them in.

  • Sabrina

    Amen! (And I think I love you…)

  • Ex-Seattleite

    Is there another location for the video?

    Your embedded video says “No video with supported format and MME type found.”

  • Transplanted Californian

    Don’t blame us Californians for the everyday retardedness that is Seattle driving. I’ve lived all over the country in the last 5 yrs and Seattle is the worst by a long shot. Politeness is not the problem here. Its poor civil engineering and in-attentive drivers. In California, you can do 80 on the freeway and be on pace with traffic. Most days, I’m happy just to do 60 without some stupid slow driver cutting me off in the fast lane. This is also the only place in the country where people don’t adhere to “stay right, except for passing”.

    And having lived in both Downtown San Diego and Downtown Seattle, I feel like I have a right to complain.

  • Matt

    Having lived and driven very well in many countries around the world, in both left, and right had drive cars (right hand side of the road, and left hand side of the road respectively) I agree with all sentiments that Seattle drivers are the worst.

    One thing in particular that has not been mentioned, is the inability of a vast number (99%) of drivers not knowing how to take a round-a-bout. Yes in some place’s they have signs approaching a large multi-lane round-a-bout and people are typically able to avoid their all to frequent brain fart (Seattle Surrender), and make it around safely. However when it’s small and there’s no sign or paint on the road to tell the driver what to do, they seem too always turn across the face of the round-a-bout into other traffic! I’ve even seen ‘professinal’ UPS/FEDEx/DHL drivers do this and I know very well their truck is capable of obeying the law.

    People…when approaching a round-a-bout, if you want to turn left, indicate to the left, enter and go around the back of the round-a-bout and indicate to the right 1/4 of the way around before you wish to exit. DO NOT SHORT-CUT AND GO AGAINST THE FLOW OF TRAFFIC AND JUST TURN LEFT!!!!!!!

    These traffic devices work. The drivers just aren’t taught how to use them. A question on the driving theory test, but not in the practical test just doesn’t count. The rules of right of way on a round-a-bout are a little more tricky. In the right hand drive countries where they work so well, the simple give way to the right works. ie Any vehicle approaching from the right, or on the round-a-bout has right of way. Simple. You STOP! Like oh I want to go straight ahead at an intersection.. shit – the car coming at me from the right will hit me before the one from the left as I have to cross his lane first…so I must STOP!

    In left hand drive countries, unfortunately the flow around a around-a-bout would require that people give way to the left. And that’s not a change that will ever happen. The reason there’s so much front left accidents in the US I think is because people give way to the right…and when driving on the right side of the road, the intersecting right lane is the last lane you cross. Yeah, the person coming at you from the left should let you go as you’re on their right, but they don’t…and you don’t have to give way to them as they’re on your left…so you don’t.. BAM!

  • Scott

    I love that in this city where it rains very very frequently that there is this collective sense of shock EVERY time. If it’s raining i can expect to double my commute time as my fellow drivers are overwhelmed by the concept of water falling from the sky.

  • CitizenTed

    Grew up in north Jersey, learned how to drive in the mean streets of NYC. Moved to Bellingham 20 years ago. It was culture shock. No one ever exceeds the posted speed limit – ever – for any reason. Honking your horn is the social equivalent of slaughtering a baby. Any driver can simply stop at any time for any reason on any road. Cars going left make a quick feint right before turning left and cars making a right need to come to full stop on the arterial before making that all-important right turn onto a side road.

    No one is even tangentially aware of anything outside the perimeter of their own vehicle. Which is why they drive so slow: they have no idea what’s out there or what’s coming up. I have not seen a successful one-shot parallel parking job yet. When I do it, my passengers vocally marvel at my skill.

    I love Bellingham, I do. But these people can’t drive. At all.

  • One of those Seattle drivers

    Ok, I agree with all these sentiments, which is why when I get home, my car is parked until I have to move it in the morning for work. On the weekends, I bus it (even though that is a whole other tirade) so I don’t have to deal with the downtown drivers.

    However, I do have street parking on those two lane roads, and I frequently parallel into them. Always with turn signal, hopefully alerting my fellow drivers that, “Hey fuckers, I am going to be doing something weird, pay attention”. USUALLY this is ok, because they leave me enough room to back in parallel park quickly (NOTE quickly, I don’t take 18 hours to pull in, and if I go past too far, I just abandon all hope and move to a different spot). However, there are people who like to ride your ass (even when there is no traffic) like they want to pull your hair, making the backwards parallel impossible. So, I ask you this: How does one do the head first parallel? I’m imagining it similar to the backwards, but I am so used to backing in that I am afraid of ripping off side mirrors and possibly taking out the front bumper of my neighbor. One does not want to live next to angry passive agressive neighbors. Who knows what devious plans they have up their sleeves!?

    So… make me a better driver oh wise one!

  • Hmmmm

    Had an interesting experience last week that came as a real surprise. Driving from LA to Palm Springs and encountered typical SoCal traffic and got behind schedule to pick up my wife at the PS airport. When traffic let up i thought i’d be able to really move through the eastern communities but much to my surprise i ran into the worst left lane campers i have ever encountered. It wasn’t just one or two cars, it was constant. Everyone across all lanes was driving about at the speed limit but try as i might i couldn’t get past on the left.

    I really don’t remember this behavior in the past. LA drivers have always been universally fast and aware without regard to gender, ethnicity or age. The blocking wasn’t a particular type of driver, it was everyone.

    I’m thinking that maybe we shipped a bunch of bad Seattle drivers to the LA area. Or, just thinking about it, maybe they were actually hologram cars on their way to Coachella.

  • Matt

    I absolutely agree, I grew up here but am so glad I learned to drive and cut my teeth on it in L.A. Everyone says that L.A. drivers are too fast but the thing is that they know what they’re doing and know where they’re going. I’d rather be in a car going 80 with someone that knows what they’re doing than going 40 with an idiot. You just die slower and more miserably after the accident.

    Seattle drivers hold up traffic, they don’t seem to have a clue where they’re going a lot of the time, they don’t know how to use a 4 way stop in a city that has more of them than any place I’ve been, 75% don’t seem to know that the center median in between the yellow lines is both a left turn exit AND entry lane so you get stuck behind idiots that wait until it’s perfectly clear both directions before taking a left (This literally happens to me almost every morning at an intersection on my commute).

    I only have a 10 minute commute and am typically annoyed at least 5-10 times each way.

    I drive fast and aggressively, but I’m not rude, I let people in etc. I also have zero tickets or accidents even though I typically drive 20 miles over the limit, that’s because I’m always aware of what’s going on all around me at all times.

    Half the people in this town should have their licenses yanked, I could drive better drunk than they do sober (Not to mention all the people on their phones or texting).

  • Alvin

    Absolutely the most accurate description of Seattle drivers I have ever read or heard. Nice job! I encountered the “Seattle Surrender” today. That drives me crazy!

  • Ryan from Lake Stevens

    I moved here in 1996, and I have to agree for the most part with everything the article says. I was on a road trip last summer however, and I found Colorado drivers pretty bad too (Utah not far behind them). Slamming on their brakes because they feel you’re riding their ass when you’re going 5 over the speed limit on the freeway and they won’t move over to the right LIKE THEIR STATE LAWS SAY YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO DO.

    I was sued by a car full of Asians 2 years ago for “the last second, oh-shit-this-is-exit-LET-ME-IN” driving. They cut me off on I-5 north in Everett trying to get into the Highway 2 exit lane (same lane I was trying to get into), cut me off then slammed on their brakes when I was less than a car’s length behind them. Stupid WSP retard gave ME the ticket for “driving recklessly” even though I was doing 15 mph in total backed up traffic in pouring rain. Got the ticket dropped, and the 4 asians who sued me for a combined $125,000 only got $26,000 between the 4 of them. They don’t realize you can’t all use the same chiropractor and have the exact same injuries. Morons. Should’ve been arrested for attempted insurance fraud. My insurance company dropped me because of the whole thing because I was now considered “high risk”, so that was fun shopping for new insurance!

    Anyway, I think you need to categorize the drivers a little better. We all know the stereotypes. Unfortunately most of them are true. Cab drivers are idiots. Women can’t drive at all. Asians can’t drive because THEY HAVE NO PERIPHERAL VISION and THEY THINK THE SPEEDOMETER READS KPH INSTEAD OF MPH. Old people drive slow. Teenagers drive too fast, unless their parents are in the car then they’re slower than old people.

    We can also categorize people by the types of cars they drive a little better. Lexus, BMW, Mercedes – You’re all a bunch of arrogant dickheads. Audi drivers, you’re on the fringe of being in that same category. Subaru Outback and Toyota Prius drivers – you’re inconsiderate slow fucktards who always drive in the left lane going 5 under, even when there’s NO ONE ON THE ROADS AT 4 AM. I hate you in the face. Cadillac Escalade and Hummer H2/H3 drivers – you’re not in an M1A1, you’re not invincible, and you’re not entitled to quadruple park in the parking lot spaces at a grocery store, you dick. That goes for you too, short guy with the tiny penis driving a truck jacked up so high and tires so big they should be illegal. Anyone driving a car with a coffee can muffler – you spent more money on your exhaust and tires than you spent on that pile of shit 20 year-old car (you know who you are). It’s a 4-cylinder pile of garbage, quit acting like you’re gonna get all Fast n Furious on me when I pass you on the freeway. I laugh at your chihuahua car – all bark, no bite.

    I drive 500+ miles a week, and I am in Bellevue/Issaquah daily, along with I-405,I-90,520, and I-5. It’s simply frustrating getting behind people who you know are a wreck waiting to happen. I try to teach my “bad” driving habits to others who grew up here so they know how NORMAL people drive. Yes, I will pass your ass on a 2 lane highway. THAT’S WHAT YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO DO WHEN THE STRIPES ARE NOT DOUBLE YELLOW. Yes, I will honk my horn when you’re sitting at a light fucking texting or whatever it was that you thought was so important you couldn’t do it before you got into your car. I will also sneer at you on the freeway as I’m passing you when you look up from the text you just read. Yeah you asshole, I hope you eat the ass end of a log truck one day. Those yellow speed signs on the on/offramps? Those are recommended speeds for TRUCKS YOU FUCKING RETARD. YOU DON’T NEED TO GO 25 MPH ON THE EXIT. The I-5/I-405 south loop is a perfect example. Sign says 45. I don’t even turn off my cruise control set at 67-68 mph when I take both of those curves. You could do it in an SUV at 55-60 mph. When you have a flashing yellow turn light, that means yield and go when you can. Doesn’t mean STOP AND WAIT FOR THE ENTIRE LIGHT TO CYCLE THROUGH UNTIL THE NEXT GREEN. Hey douchewaffle, see me sitting here at this 4-way stop? IT’S CALLED RIGHT-OF-WAY. If you were here first, I will wave you through. Don’t assume you can go immediately.

    Wow, I had no idea I had this much rage pent up. I need to go masturbate or something.

  • Steve

    The “Seattle Surrender” definitely sounds like the failure of urban visitors everywhere to either go with the flow or get out of the way. They are also easily identified by leaving 6 feet between their mirrors and parked cars.

    But compounding the problem are the people behind the surrender monkeys who don’t simply go the hell around. Maybe there’s a tendency here to not see traffic flow as a malleable concept? “Aw, shucks, there’s a car blocking 1/3rd of my lane. I’ll just sit here behind it and block the entire lane for everyone behind me.” *That* surrender drives me nuts. Or, wow, there are people in the crosswalk. I’d better give them 20 feet of leeway and be sure to block this thru-lane entirely rather than creeping over a little to let the people behind me pull around. People! You don’t have to be centered in your lane all the time! Swerve a little.

  • jenx

    I drive for a living, am a seattle (proper!) native. That said, get over yourselves! For every time I bitch and moan about some jackwagon on the road, I’m sure you and everyone posting here are guilty of doing dumb shit while driving. Who snapped that photo on the I 90 westbound? Sure hope you weren’t driving while doing so…

  • RY

    You forgot to mention the folks that a) don’t know how to merge, b) don’t know how to yield the right of way, and c) don’t know how to use the blinkers on their cars.

    I, too, have lived around this country and in another country and have travelled widely, and Seattle ranks up there pretty high. I don’t drive downtown for all of the above reasons, and the men are just as bad as the women when it comes to refusing to yield the right of way or merging.

    Still, there are worse things in life than dealing with bad drivers. Life is too short to dwell.

  • ATC

    WOW WOW WOW!!!!!!!!! you’ve seen exactly what I’ve seen since I moved up here from LA almost 6 months ago. Before moving up here, I thought LA drivers were bad. Boy was i wrong!!!! Seattle definitely takes the ENTIRE cake. All this ridiculousness makes me appreciate LA driving much much more.

    I’m so happy I ran across this dissertation :) you made my day and it made me realize that I was not alone! THANK YOU!

  • Lawrence A. Darbyshire

    I lived in Germany for 4 years and everything there, for some reason, flows like a well-oiled machine.

    For instance, on the auto ban there are specific rules for each lane of travel. The 1st lane is exclusively for entering or exiting the freeway, no exceptions and no excuses. If anyone lingers there for any length of time they will be forced to the lane to the right. If you cause an accident during the merger it is your fault.

    The 2nd lane is for trucks, period. At their earliest convenience all trucks big or small must proceed to this lane to avoid any backups. It is prohibited to pass anyone on the right and this is strictly enforced. All trucks may not enter the cruising lane other than to pass another truck and then return to the trucking lane.

    The 3rd lane is for cruising. By passing the slower vehicles on the right, everyone knows that this is the safest mode of travel and there are relatively few backups. When the exit point is approaching, they give themselves ample room to negotiate back before they come to a safe place to exit, which will always be an open sanctuary to retreat. If you miss your exit the blame is on you and only out of courtesy to others, you will have to take the next exit, regardless of the inconvenience.

    The 4th lane is for passing only. If you meander in this lane for any length of time, you will shortly see flickering high beams in your rear view mirror. This is the telltale sign that you are in the wrong lane. If your vehicle cannot perform like the big boys, you may be at fault of the impending collision. This again is strictly enforced. When an accident occurs in this lane, it is usually catastrophic and everyone knows the consequences of not yielding to the advancing vehicles behind you.

    Over there, it’s all about the flow of traffic and courtesy to others. Here in Seattle, it’s all about me. These same traffic laws are in place but are rarely enforced…

    So in conclusion, I place the blame of Seattle’s traffic problems squarely on the shoulders of our State Patrol, which is more concerned with revenues gleaned from minor speeding infractions than from their sole purpose of enforcing the even flow of traffic.

    As far as our urban drivers are concerned, it was all fine and well, before the influx of the Californians that relocated here, due to the collapse of their economy. Until in the late 90’s the commuters here where quite respectful and gracious in their driving techniques. But after the advent of these late’ swilling minions that engulfed this land, it all went to hell in a hand basket.

    So in conclusion, I have to say that the problems incurred in the Seattle traffic situation is a direct effect of the lack of enforcement of the law, not the simpletons behind the wheel. They simply need to be corralled and made aware of the common courtesies of the road. As you stated, you can’t fix stupid, but we can build in place, a resolution to this exceeding problem. Simply make drivers aware of the rules of the road with poignant signage and enforce those rules. If the flow becomes excessive, the patrolmen have only to light their beacons and everyone will slow down.

    If you want to drive like a maniac, there are consequences but don’t hinder the flow in the process. Only though correcting bad driving habits of the public and not focusing on revenues, will this situation ever be reconciled.

    Good luck with that.

  • thegor

    I love the sensitive Seattle apologists who either say “it is people from California” or “I agree, but…” or “why don’t you move back to where you came from if you don’t like it here.”

    I moved here in 2000 and I have lived in Detroit, LA, Denver, Birmingham UK, and I have driven all over the world. Seattle is by far the worst. Full stop. End of discussion. The problem is that auto isn’t part of the culture here. The car is despised. It shows.

    But the only point I would challenge that it isn’t just suburbs. It is the whole state between Everett to Vancouver. I used to drive frequently between Tacoma and Portland. Same issues. Now I am in the 405 corridor. Nothing changes.

    One thing not mentioned that makes my blood boil is the phenomenon I call “nesting” or “cocooning.” This is where a car is approaching and you yield right to allow them to pass but just as they are nearly clear of you they match your speed limit and keep you in their blind spot. It also works that they intend to pass but lay back and remain in your blind spot in the left land after you yield for them to pass. I can say this happens at least once a day when traffic is not rush hour. It has happened in Clark County all the way to Whatcom. It is the single most annoying thing I observe from drivers here.

    Thanks for reaffirming that any more money spent to “fix” the problem is a dollar wasted.

    Once last footnote. The whole four way stop business. You won’t read about it in drivers’ manuals here but their is a new rule. It is called at a four way stop sigh “I” have the right of way. I vowed long ago a hearty FUCK YOU to those who cannot figure out who goes next or wants to be some fucking passive aggressive control freak directing traffic behind their own steering wheel. I go first, no matter what and to this date no one seems to object.

  • Spouse of WA Native

    I’ve been married to a WA native for 10+ years and when I started dating her she told me the Seattle drivers were the worst in the country. I was skeptical because prior to meeting her I had extensive drive time in Chicago, Indianapolis, Denver, El Paso & Juarez Mex (lots of uninsured point & shoot drivers). Seattle is much worse.

    One that I didn’t see mentioned is the Ecological Rolling Road Block. Drivers whose cars indicate eco-consciousness (Prius, Leaf, Subaru, Volkswagens) will match speeds at exactly 55 mph and block 3-4 lanes of interstate traffic. This is to ensure everyone behind them is driving their cars at the most fuel economical speed possible and to reduce the carbon footprint of the entire interstate.

    As for the Asian comments up above….insensitive or not is immaterial. In one of the most liberal communities in the world, it is a cultural stereotype. Even my wife’s most liberal friends who would be aghast at the idea of making a racist comment, would speak the abbreviation “DWA” or (Driving While Asian) when observing a car being driven particularly poorly. The amazing thing to me, as a stranger in a strange land, was how often they were right.

    Nice Essay to start the thread.

  • GeekElite

    I feel like the Reverse Roadblock is a compound problem, many times.

    I’m very good a parallel parking. When I back into a parallel spot, I nail it first try virtually every time. More times than I can count, however, I’ve pulled up to a space with *no one* behind me, stopped, shifted into reverse, started backing up, turned, and had some jackwagon pull right up on my ass at Mach 3, preventing me from finishing the maneuver. Had they just slowed up, even a little bit, I’d’ve been in and done just as fast as had I nosed in.

  • Chassily

    Thank you for this validation! I was literally crying laughing, it’s so spot on. I have never encountered worse drivers in my life than in the Pacific Northwest. Lovely people – love you guys, really – terrible drivers. I grew up driving in LA and Orange County. We drive fast, we drive aggressive, but we drive well. I’ve gotten used to my PNW passengers gripping the dash and chicken stick and just carry on DRIVING, a concept they are not familiar with.

    Last December, my husband and I took our 21-year-old daughter to Vegas for her birthday. We drove there and back and took a few detours to old CA favorite spots on the way home. We were behind a woman in a Mercedes on the 210, going at speed, who suddenly decided to stop. In the middle of the freeway. For no apparent reason. Turns out she was on the phone, and evidently having conniption fits over the conversation. We narrowly avoided plowing her over, swerving, tires screeching, horn blaring, while the other seven cars immediately behind us did the same. She never noticed, never turned to look, nothing. As we got our hearts under control and began driving again, with many evil glares in her direction,I took a look at the back of her car. You guessed it: WA plates.

    To Thegor on the nesting/cocooning, LOVE that. (Lucky for the cocooners, I’m not armed.) I’m totally stealing it, along with the Seattle Surrender.

  • Lark

    Oh thank god. I moved to WA from L.A. two years ago and I thought I was just a driving snob. The drivers here are terrible. The “Seattle Surrender” had me laughing hysterically. They do it while walking, too. I tell my boyfriend (who is basically a WA native) that I have never seen so many people oblivious to their surroundings. I use my horn WAY more here than I ever have before. I yell at people in my car way more than I ever have before. Usually something like, “Focus, people, focus!”

    And the unprotected left turn! Heaven forbid we get into the intersection on a flashing yellow arrow! Although I’ve almost gotten hit a few times doing it because the oncoming traffic doesn’t expect the cars in the intersection to actually try to get out of it before the light turns red and come flying through the yellow.

    I feel so much better after reading this. The driving won’t improve but at least I know I’m not just a bitter, snobby L.A. driver.

  • DC_native

    This article made my day. I Grew up in DC, was in the military 7 years, traveled the world. I love to drive. I used to think Alaska was the worst, until I moved here 3 years ago. I typically commute on a motorcycle, I have learned that is the most efficient way to navage these awful PNW drivers.

    I recently took a trip to LA, it was a fucking RELIEF to drive in LA traffic during rush hour as opposed to driving in Seattle at any time at all ever. I would rather drive at 3am in LA with drunks on the road than the sober idiots that commute in this area. I found people in CA to actually have driving ability and they were attentive to mering traffic, the passing lane and green lights.

    I am considering getting an airhorn for my moto, it will probably just scare the “surrendor’s” more but at least I’ll get a good laugh out of them shitting their pants.

    Last note: I drive a subaru outback, with that I am fully aware of the stereotype. However since I know that, I still drive like a typical east coaster; I will honk at you when you fail and I drive fast to make up for the Outback.

    A warning: if you ever see a Subaru/Volkswagon/Prius with ANY hippie bumpers-stickers PASS THEM QUICKLY!

  • I-90 Daily

    You should check out how I-90 Westbound will back up from the Mt Baker tunnel past the I-405 interchange around evening rush hour when the weather is nice and the “flag guy” comes out onto the pedestrian walkway of I-90 bridge carrying his 10 foot flag pole consisting of the US flag and a POW-MIA tribute flag.

    He may come out 2-3x a week, on a weekly schedule and every single time he does, traffic will pile up right at his location, all 3 lanes, like they are slowing to wave “Hi again!” to him as they go.

  • Mike

    Let’s not forget another fantastic Seattle driver move….stopping for pedestrians at an intersection that has no crosswalks. I can’t tell you how many times this happens on First Ave N. in Queen Anne when I walk to/from work. Two lanes of traffic going 40mph and someone decides to stop to let pedestrians cross. It’s annoying as driver and as a pedestrian. I know they’re trying to be polite, but come on.

    • NY Driver

      Omigosh, I totally forgot about this one!! So true!! And many variations: Like on a two lane road (one in each direction) a car stopping (and thus all the cars behind him) to let someone from an intersecting street on the left turn left into their lane. What these “polite” folks don’t realize is that when they do something contrary to the rules of the road (and thus unexpected by everyone else) they are putting everyone at additional risk.

      I agree, I’m embarrassed as a pedestrian when someone does that for me.

    • Erika

      Stopping for pedestrians, even at unmarked crosswalks, is the law.

  • N_NW

    Seattle is L.A. with rain.


    My favorite of all Seattle drivers is the “I pay GD my taxes so I have the right to drive in the left lane, even if not passing or driving below the speed limit” drive.

  • John

    Ummmmm. Rex? The photo you have here to emphasize about how bad Seattle drivers are… the license plate reads, “NYC – KID”. Now, it might be a leap of logic here, but I’m thinking this isn’t a Seattle-born native driver. And it’s not exactly a rousing endorsement for all those on here touting how much better Eats Coast drivers are. Just sayin’.

  • Carolyn

    I have been a Seattle driver for the past 40 years. I think the main problem with the traffic is that there are to few freeways. Maybe I am a cup half full person but I have always felt that Seattle drivers were extremely polite. I am a semi-truck driver and have driven in California quite a lot. People there do not know how to merge onto the freeways. Maybe it is because they do not want to be behind a big truck, but they seem to think they should challenge a big rig instead of speeding up or slowing down and merging safely. Don’t they know that they will be the big loser if a collision should occur? Many of them wait until the on ramp lane runs out, then they look in their mirror. Guess they expect traffic to clear the road and move over for them. I have also driven in L.A. and don’t think Seattle drivers are worse.

  • Non-Seattlite

    I agree with your analysis except that you keep referring to the problem being drivers from “outside Seattle” — meaning people who don’t live in Seattle’s inner core. But in my experience the vast majority of people in the inner core aren’t originally from Seattle. The suburban drivers you are referring to are actually native Seattlites.

    And stupid isn’t the only problem you have with them. They want all the people who’ve moved here from elsewhere — including most of the people who live downtown — to go to heck. So if they are screwing up your life and making you want to move they feel like it was a good day for them.

    I can’t wait for this city to gentrify them all the heck out of here.

  • Marc

    There is a five way stop where N. 50th Street, Green Lake Way N., and Stone Way North meet up. Traveling North East on Green Lake Way N. south of 50th there are two lanes. The right lane is for turning right onto N. 50th St. or Green Lake Way N. The left lane is for turning onto Green Lake Way only. But everyday, several times, there will be several cars in the left lane that block traffic because they want to be in the right lane to continue East onto N. 50th Street. Their actions cause everybody else who is trying continue North onto Green Lake Way N. to miss anywhere from 1-3 light cycles.

    I usually drive around them or cut through Midvale Ave N, Stone Ave N, or 49th to Stone Way N. to avoid the headache.

    Also irritating, and I don’t know if it’s as bad downtown but, in other neighborhoods when people stop at lights they each feel the need to leave at least two car lengths in front of them. It really takes them a long time to get started once the light changes.

    @Drew K
    “One-at-a-time: This is when a light turns green and everyone in line at the light has to wait until every single car in front of them has at least 2 cars of distance before they start driving … therefore, getting through a normal light that might allow 10 cars through, now only allows 5”

    This! A thousand times this!

  • Mark Davis

    Yes – they are terrible. The two that I see most common that aren’t in your article:

    -The left lane camper/wall of traffic

    It never ceases to amaze me to be driving down 405 on a Saturday afternoon, in light traffic, with all lanes of traffic going 50 mph on the 60 mph highway. The cars are like magnets – they line up, and hold to each other’s speed, no matter how slow that speed is. I also regularly see cars get on the highway, make a bee-line for the left lane, only to go well under the speed limit. It just doesn’t make sense – why go over there if you want to drive slow? And why be so insistent about it?

    -The siren-stop

    This is pretty similar to the Seattle Surrender you noted above. Any driver’s ed teacher, or driving law book, will tell you that when you hear a siren, you stay out of the way to the right. What happens in Seattle? Everyone stops. In their tracks. No matter where they are, they just halt. What they don’t seem to realize is that if you do this in traffic, you create gridlock, and you make it harder for the ambulance to get by. And if there isn’t traffic, you don’t actually have to pull over and stop. The ambulance is not a cop trying to give you a ticket. Just get out of its way on the right side of the road. How is this difficult to comprehend?

    • Daniel

      My theory of why people stop in Seattle when they hear sirens is b/c they are such timid drivers that making an unplanned, unscheduled lane change scares the hell out of them.

      IMO, a typical Seattle driver, if confronted with an obstruction, will just brake and never actually swerve out of the way. If they have enough time to stop, they will stop…if they don’t, they’ll hit the obstruction. This only happens b/c of the timidity of the drivers here. This is why people queue up several blocks to get onto a highway…b/c they don’t like changing lanes or maneuvering their vehicles, so they get ready as early as possible.

  • David

    Thank you for the dissertation! You are absolutely correct! Having lived here for almost 15 years, I still shake my head every day at how bad Seattle drivers are. Of all the various examples though, the one that continually amazes me is what a previous commenter called “the siren-stop”.

    You hear a siren, and magically, everyone stops. Period. Creating gridlock. Yes, you are required yield the right of way to emergency vehicles. But come on people! No, you don’t have to stop if you’re on a 4 lane highway with a jersey barrier or median down the middle and the ambulance is coming in the other direction!!

    Also of note are the ability of Seattle pedestrians to simply walk into traffic without looking, as if the crosswalk provided an impenatrable force field of safety. Yes, motor vehicles have to yield to pedestrians…but, if you step out in front of a car doing 30mph, physics works!

  • T

    Do you know the worst times to be driving in Seattle? On the weekends. That is when people who normally take the bus or bike to work would take their car out to go have lunch or meet with friends. They do not know how to drive efficiently, tends to drive very slowly, and often have a lot of cars trailing behind them on a normally otherwise clear street. Oh yeah, and they do dumb things that no one would tolerate during rush hour.

  • abuseintake

    I have a theory. As a 4th generation Seattlite, I have noticed over the years that Seattle is not what you would call a town full of gear-heads. People buy cars like they buy a washer and dryer; they read Consumer reports and get the one that is most reliable and perceived to be the safest. This is why you see so many Camrys,Prius, and Honda CR-Vs clogging the downtown streets. People that buy cars like this are not engaged in, and do not enjoy driving. I find that a disorientated suburbanite in a Honda Pilot is far more of a menace than a recently divorced airline pilot in a Porsche Cayman. I drive a 2010 GTI and I frequently am forced to use it like a WRC rally car through the streets of downtown, frequently sending tourists taking pictures of old gum on Post Alley running for their lives. I sadistically enjoy the challenges of Seattle driving and am amazed at how dangerous a dead-eyed Prius driver is and how many accidents I see these types of cars involved in versus drivers like myself who are mindful of the road and develop a thousand-yard stare. Seattle is a place you need to plan 4 to 5 moves ahead. And, don’t forget June is the beginning of disoriented tourist in a rental car season, which makes driving even worse.

    • Daniel

      I have noticed the solid correlation of Priusses and sucking driving. I’ve probably been passed by a Prius 4 or 5 times ever. The only Prius drivers I see who are not timid are cabbies.

      I’m all about being green. I’d buy a Tesla Roadster if I could afford one. When my engine gets older, I’ll be swapping my Jeep engine for a diesel and run bio (I’m coasting distance up the hill of 2 bio fueling stations in Fremont)…but generally, yeah, people don’t care about cars, and subsequently never really learned to drive them. I’m so surprised/amazed that grown men here don’t know or understand a single thing about the physics of driving a car, weight displacement and steering, the changing contact patches when you brake or accelerate…etc… People here just don’t get it and for the most part never will b/c they don’t like driving…which makes them even worse drivers!

  • Marvin

    I attribute it to the large Asian population here. Yeah, I went there.

    After spending the last week in China and the week before in Korea, seeing what happens when the roads are absolutely FILLED with drivers of that “skill” level (and having to run for my life to avoid literally being run over more times than I can count), I will safely reiterate that the stereotype about Asian drivers is 100% accurate, and a large portion of Seattle’s road problems stem from our large Asian population.

    That and the Prius owners who think 55 is blazing fast and sit in the left lane at all times as they try to force everybody else to behave like them.

  • NY Driver

    He forgot a few great PNW driving gems:

    1.) The folks who are timid merging into traffic on a freeway from the onramp. Constant braking, nervous glances over their left shoulder.

    2.) The folks who, in stop & go traffic, wait till the car in front of them has finally advanced 50-60 feet before they move forward. What they don’t realize is that they, and everyone else doing the same thing, are making traffic FAR worse further back.

    And my 2 absolute faves:

    3.) The passing lane camper. They’re in the left lane going the same speed as the cars in the 2 lanes to their right, but they refuse to move over. After all, they’re nearly going the speed limit, and want to make sure you do to! Fortunately, WSP is starting to ticket the more egregious violators.

    4.) The PNW 4-way stop gridlock: “You go first, no, YOU go first, oh I can’t go B4 you” and on & on. If cars hesitate more than 2 seconds, I just go, even though I may have been 2nd or 3rd in line.

    I drive all over the country, but the drivers here are the worst.

    • thegor

      I mentioned this yesterday, but you should try my method for the 4 way stop paralysis: I have the right of way all of the time under all circumstances. As soon as I stop, I go. No waiting. No waving. They will mumble under their breath that I must be for CALIFORNIA (I am not), but who cares? Life is too short to let these dolts figure out the 4 way stop.

      • NY Driver

        Ha!! Not sure I’ll go that far! But I might try it once for grins. Had 2 more opportunities yesterday. Waited 2 secs, then go.

  • NY Driver

    “Up ahead, a driver has her reverse lights on. You see, she spotted an empty parking space, and just like her Driver’s Ed teacher at Bumbletwat High School taught her, she is trying to back into it……Instead of going around the block, or nosing into the space, she expects us all to back up and make room for her parallel parking attempt.”

    Have to disagree with you on this one, Rex. Backing into a tight parallel spot’s the only way for most cars. Simple physics tells you pulling in nose first does not work. Waiting the average tens seconds or less it takes most people to back into the spot should not be a HUGE inconvenience.

    And as a previous commenter pointed out, perhaps not tailgating the person would allow them the room to back in w/o requiring anyone to back up. And pulling around the block??? Yeah, I’m sure that spot will still be available!! And if it is, what’s to stop the same scenario from happening again?

    I avoid this problem by slowing down and putting on my turn signal when approaching an empty spot. 95% of the time folks get the picture, leave me enuf room, and I’m ought of their way in 5-8 seconds.

    • Daniel

      I agree about everything in your “dissertation” except this nose in thing.

      I agree with NY Driver…it works for a short wheelbase vehicle, but it will not work on a long wheelbase vehicle. I own both a jeep wrangler 2-door and a jeep wrangler 4-door (as well as motorcycle). In the size of a standard parking space, a long wheelbase vehicle literally cannot fit by nosing in… Many times, I pop up onto the sidewalk (if there are no cops around, b/c I know they’ll freak out and probably ticket me), but it’s just b/c there isn’t room.

      And I know my vehicles…I know when I’m an inch or two away from something…etc…it’s not that I’m timid and am not aware of the amount of space behind me, it’s just that it’s not possible to nose in a lot time.

      When I do parallel park and people inch up and get to close on purpose…I just play that game right back at them…I get closer…I don’t think I’ve ever not gotten my parallel parking spot b/c someone wanted to play passive-aggressive driver with me.

      • Yeah, yeah, nobody ever gets pushed around on the Internet. We all have 9 inch cocks, perfect credit scores, and we bitch slap motherfuckers for looking at us wrong.

        Then, of course, there’s the real world.

        I’m sure nobody bothers you about the back-up parking in the burbs. That’s the way folks do it out there. It’s not practical in Downtown rush-hours, though. This is not just true in Seattle, it’s true in any dense Downtown.

        And, as was my initial point, the primary cause of gridlock is people who don’t understand that urban driving takes a different skill set than other types of driving. Back in parking is a perfect example of this. The “it works in the suburbs so it must work her” mentality is the primary cause of our traffic woes, not to mention, the cause of many injuries and deaths.

        I happened to stumble across this website the other day. Allow me to quote his synopsis, then link you to the full article w/video:

        These guys fought because the weenie in the black T-shirt (i.e., the one who surrendered) didn’t have the driving skills to slip into the parking spot nose-first, like a ferret. Anyone who tries to back into a parking space on a crowded Manhattan cross street deserves whatever trouble comes his/her way. With power steering commonplace you should never do that. If you can’t nose your way in and wiggle around and eventually achieve parallel (which is how I park) then stop blocking the people behind you and man up and pay for a parking garage.

        Look, you can do what you want, and I’m sure you will. I’m just shooting you straight in the off-chance that you care at all. If you back park in the city, you’re hated by just about every inner-city resident who’s ever had the displeasure to drive in your vicinity. Reviled even. It is what it is.

        Now, you may or may not care, and if you’re anything like most Seattle drivers, you don’t. Hell, if you’re like most Seattle drivers, you don’t realize that other people even exist, much less care that you’re inconveniencing them and borking traffic for blocks. Your high school driving instructor taught you to back in, and goddammit, back in is what you are going to do until the day you’re summoned to the afterlife.

        However, if you’ve ever wondered why traffic is so bad around here, well, that’s one of the reasons. And there aren’t enough tax dollars to throw at it which will ever fix it.

        Fortunately, I stopped driving about 2 years ago, so you’re not holding me up anymore. It’s everybody else’s problem now, thank God.

  • Shirley

    I came to Seattle in 2008 on holiday, I’m from England, and happily drive around all our major cities; I’ve driven in Europe, on Florida and in the Rockies in blizzard conditions. I’ve driven cars, vans and minibuses. I’ll NEVER drive in Seattle again – I found it more stressful than London rush hour traffic, than Rennes (driving a right hand car) and Mount Teide in Tenerife (where Star Wars was filmed. The one way system, roadworks and general craziness of drivers put me off completely. I won’t be hiring a car when I come back in September!

  • sarah

    I grew up on the east coast, have lived in upstate NY, NH, NYC, North Carolina, San Francisco, Salt Lake City and now Seattle. Agree with everything stated above.

    I recently have been using the HOV lane to pass the fools camping out in the left lane. Usually this works, though I realize it’s illegal. One time, though, a 50 mph camper in the left lane who I was attempting to overcome (could not overcome from the right as he was camping alongside two back to back trucks in the lane immediately to our right) actually tried to trap me in the HOV lane. I pulled left to go around him, he sped up. To 75mph. I slowed down, he slowed down. It was obnoxious. Seriously? I pulled back behind him, and he slowed to 50mph again.

    I throw up my hands in the air and I give up.

    • NY Driver

      Be careful with that. I used to do it too (NEVER during rush hour or heavy traffic). The last time I did, the A-hole I was passing (I assume) phoned it in and I got a very polite warning in the mail. It said that if they 4 reports (didn’t say over what period of time) my make, model, and license plate number gets reported to WSP.

  • Carla

    Hands down Seattle has the worst drivers I have ever encountered. It’s not that Seattle drivers are aggressive or rude, it’s just that they are so bad! Does anyone in this town understand the rules of the road? Proper protocols when merging or for rights of way at intersections – forget it! I could go on forever but even the internet must have a capacity limit somewhere.

    I consider myself to be an excellent driver – my father was a fighter pilot and he made damned sure I knew how to drive a car properly and safely before I ever got behind the wheel of a car. That said, drivers here are just so BAD that getting out on the road scares the daylights out of me.

  • Scott

    I have driven in many cities throughout the world and am a very skilled driver with numerous years of road racing (on track)and pro driving schools. Seattle drivers are among the worst i have seen, this is not to say that New York or worse yet Boston drivers are agressive and exhibit horrible behavior, but they seems to know how to drive. Seattle drivers exhibit terrible driving skills and etiquette and every day i see a half dozen improper left turn skills, i can’t fathom why drivers wait for a car a half a block away when it would be safe for two or three cars to turn left or why on earth a left turner would not wait in the intersection to turn left when the light goes yellow. And how many times have you seen a car sit and wait to pull out only to go when its NOT safe. I don’t think bad driving is a gender thing, we don’t properly teach ANY new drivers how to handle a car, driver training is simply not adequate.

    • Ihateseattletoo

      “And how many times have you seen a car sit and wait to pull out only to go when its NOT safe.”

      I just experienced this again today – I call it the “aggressive chicken”. You are traveling at speed limit, say 40mph, approaching an intersection around the same moment someone is arriving on the right side trying to make a right on red. But they need to yield to you first. They either do a fast rolling stop and fly in front of you but the aggravating part is they don’t break any sweat to accelerate and cause you to have to slam on the brakes. It’s like, if you were in such a damn hurry to run the right turn stop, why not also put some effort into accelerating!?

      They also love to lurch forward and sneak in when it’s at the last possible moment to do so. You see them lurching and a few times they prolly could have pulled it off, but instead of just waiting, they whip into the turn and almost cause a rear end collision. I’ve seen 16 year old drivers ed students make these kind of hasty decisions but Seattle drivers are worse than that!!

  • RP

    I had to laugh my a$$ off when Metro ads say to plan ahead! Seattle City..Plan ahead! What a load. I CANNOT plan ahead with 30,000 idiots on the road. Can’t take a bus, must drive to work…Oh, Seattle is a beautiful place….It’s the people that royally suck!! Words of advice: Remove head from a$$ before driving.

  • Ziggy

    Right on, Rex! Driven here for 30 years, and everything you point out has always been true. And the rural areas offer no relief. Two of my pet peeves:

    1) Stopping at the end of the on-ramp. Happens every day

    2) RVs refusing to use slow vehicle pull-outs. A cop could fill up her ticket book any summer weekend on US2 with that.

  • Detroit Liz

    I learned to drive in Detroit, where it was invented, and have driven all over the world, from Australia to Istanbul to Mexico City, and Seattle is the worst, due to a horrible combination of passive-aggressive mind-sets and just plain stupidity. Who gives these people drivers’ licenses??? Where do they get driver’s training???? In Detroit, If you could not merge onto a freeway that was traveling at 70 to 80mph and bumper to bumper, with snow falling, you would not last long. If you did not move out at a light, you would be rear-ended. Tough love. We need some here.

  • Duke

    On the other hand, Seattle drivers are very polite. If you put your turn signal on, people will let you cut in front of them. Compare that with New Jersey, where a turn signal is how you challenge someone to a race, or Florida, where using turn signals is seen as effeminate and weak.

    I think your “Seattle surrender” occurs a lot of time because of pedestrians. This city gives a lot of deference to pedestrians (and cyclists), and I’ve seen green light situations where you could not turn for the entire light because of the people in the crosswalk.

  • Bruce

    Most of the article is true. A couple of things were left out, though.

    There are the women, who after merging onto the freeway, will IMMEDIATELY hit the left lane and sit there, regardless.

    I learned long ago to watch very carefully for older men wearing hats, usually in really big older sedans. they kinda bumble along, reminds me of Florida.

    Many Asians seem to have trouble driving skillfully. I watch out for them. San Fran taught me that one.

    I stay away from women drivers in parking lots, as studies now show they are most likely to confuse the gas and brake pedals.

    In an empty parking lot, seemingly lonely drivers will end up parking right next to you anyway, often dinging your car door.

    After a driving stint in Europe, I find that the local drivers seem to be in slow motion. I want to get going, as I would in Europe, where their fatality rates are lower than ours anyway. Easy to fall asleep here.

    Drivers on I-405 tend to drive faster than on the west side, often 10-20 over. I guess money makes them hot stuff.

  • Johnny

    It’s not just the drivers in Seattle! It’s all the other areas as well! I’ve encountered things here I’ve never seen before. The Rubbernecking is frustrating!

    Yah, we’re all busy, but let’s stop and look at a car in the median that has run off the road. Let’s create a traffic backup for perhaps 10-15 miles, just so we can look at a car that has run off the road!!! It’s pathetic.

    WASHINGTON drivers are the worst in the country. Maybe it’s low IQ, don’t know!

    • Ihateseattletoo

      Johnny, about the rubbernecking. They especially love to gawk at those sign people that dance up and down pointing the arrows.

  • alehoundchuck

    Well, my friend, although you have chronicled many of the odd behaviors of Seattle drivers, I think there are a couple points you missed. The only two states I have not visited or driven in are Louisiana and Hawaii. Yes, drivers here are particularly odd in behavior, but I find more home grown knuckelheads than transplants or suburbanites.

    What I find fuels the flame is 1. Signage is terrible. “Traffic Engineers” here do not understand parallax error. Case in point the first signs you see on I-405S leaving downtown Bellevue. Yes, when you get to them, a half mile down the road, they are precisely over the lanes they delineate, I-90 W, I 90 W and I 405 S. When you first see them, they are one lane off, causing many confused swerves to find the proper lane for the poor driver’s destination. It takes a couple of trips to deprogram one’s brain from this mislabeling.

    How about the lack of signs to direct you certain roads. I once made the mistake of emailing the SDOT to complain about a poorly designed sign only to be told it meets the minimum Federal requirement for signage so, too bad, so sad, it will not be changed!

    How about the quaint Seattle custom of building freeways that terminate on a city street? Road diets, downsizing major arterials under the guise of being “green” while the real purpose is a jihad against fossil fuel burning vehicles. Luddites of the past built a Convention Center over I-5 to prevent the further proliferation of a thriving freeway through town. Well meaning “environmentalists” are wasting more fuel, causing more traffic jams and increasing our carbon footprint exponentially. People who do not understand science and technology make lousy environmental advocates.

    Lastly, I must say, the inability of native Seattleites to grasp the concept of merging, four way or more stops, defiant attitudes by drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists crossing against control signals, in areas with no crosswalks or just randomly swerving into traffic lanes make for exciting driving experiences. Since most of the “engineers” who create these abominations of design are trained at the state pillars of learning, I think we are in deep sewage.

    • Daniel

      Yeah, what’s up with the signage???? They’re so bad. In Austin, where I lived before here, there were a couple signs that were off but they fixed them.

      Here, there is no way to know what lane you’re supposed to be in. No advance warning (which inevitably leads to slowdowns anytime it is busy.

      Oh, as far as being green…they need to get rid of speed bumps b/c, of course, having to decelerate and then re-accelerate is wasteful, and most importantly…I’ve yet to see a speeder here requiring a speed bump in the first place!

  • Kz

    Amen! Simply Can’t agree more. Seattle traffic problem is driver induced.

  • Kk

    Nice Seattle drivers are completely blind on what’s behind them nor they seems to understand they are creating traffic and inefficiency in the system. They drive like theres the only one car on the road. Worst of all, driver on hov lane was driving 50 mph and saw a car ahead signal to merge in, the driver stepped on brake pedal, slowed down to 20mph attempting to let the other car to merge onto hov. The merging vehicle wasn’t sure if he is safe to merge in and took his time slowly merging in while to nice driver on hov lane completely stopped to let the turtle settle in. Created significant bottleneck in the stream and a major safety concern. But the nice driver didn’t seem to see the problem he created.

  • Ihateseattletoo

    It’s not just a downtown Seattle phenomenon! Out in burbs like Renton, Maple Valley, Sammammish, Issaquah etc exists bedroom communities where we rely to get to and from work everyday. Places where two lane roads STILL exist and should have been widened to four lanes 30 years ago. Not just for congestion, but SAFETY.

    Not to mention the 1970’s 50MPH speed limits. Now, imagine how much patience it takes to sit behind sleepy Sally/Steve as she/he drives their 1994 Subaru wagon at 43.5 MPH and cycles up and down to a maximum of 49.1 MPH. (S)he’s drifting in and out on the shoulder over the white fog line kicking up rocks and being absolutely Sunday driver. But once the road widens back to a 4 lane, you coulda swore (s)he was driving a Corvette and does EVERYTHING in their power to remain in the left lane doing 70MPH in a 50MPH to keep ahead of you.

  • Bob Speer

    I saw no mention of the insane drivers on I5 & I405 that drive along in rush hour going 35 miles per hour with a gap of 1/4 mile between them and the next person.

  • Ken

    There are too many former Volvo wagon drivers who moved along to Subaru wagons that can’t get out of their own way. If I see I’m behind a Subaru wagon, I know the odds are it will a slow confused process.

    they are nearly as bad as the cabs that seem to meander with no purpose at all.

    My rules of the road are pay attention, drive efficiently for myself and others, and don’t steal the right of way.

  • Eli

    One thing you neglected to mention which I think is appropriate is the “fender bender syndrome”. This occurs when one car bumps another car. I am not referring to an accident which destroys one of the vehicles or results in injury, I am referring to the kind where the car oblivious to Seattle Surrender runs up the tailpipe of the car in front that has come to an inexplicable stop. Both cars a driveable, neither party is injured, yet there they sit, exchanging information in the middle of the road, or intersection, rather than moving off to the curb or into a parking lot. I have been a Seattleite all my life and this particular action never fails to baffle me.

  • Sean

    It’s time there was emphasis on slow drivers in the passing lane. It would generate more revenue than speeding tickets would if law enforcement really went after it on a consistent basis.

    The last thing I am worried about on the 405 or 90 is someone going 70mph. The guy driving 45 in a 60mph zone is far more dangerous.

    • Sarah

      So true! It creates so much more danger if people are trying to pass on the right to get around a slow person who parks in the left lane. If you are not moving fast enough to pass, and others are passing you – move over!

  • howard gutknecht

    A new stat: 25% of Seattle residents were born outside the U.S. and 35% of Bellevue residents were born outside the U.S. So unless they are from a very urban area where people drive they may have never picked-up street-smarts. Imagine you’re from Somalia and you’re trying to get around Beacon Hill, First Hill, and Capitol Hill. My father drilled me in “Plan ahead, what lane do you want to be in now?” for endless hours of practice before I got my license. This was mostly in Queen Anne and Wallingford, but I then applied it ever since. I’m not sure how a late-arrivee gets that kind of coaching.

  • Edward T

    Thank you, sir, thank you. You have explained in a calm and rational way, with true examples, what the exact problem in Seattle is. My hat is off to you. I could not take it anymore. I moved away last year and have never been happier over a single decision in my entire life. I have since lived in Chicago, and now Denver. Two cities that completely understand what transportation means.

  • Jonathan

    Think texting and driving is bad? Last week during rush-hour on the 405, I observed a 20-something new-age dude playing his guitar while he was driving! Seriously? But I’m sure WSP is more concerned with driver’s doing 7 mph over the speed limit – that’s entirely more dangerous…

  • Ihateseattletoo

    Last summer I took a 3600 mile road trip to the midwest, southwest, and southern California. It was my first time driving in San Diego and LA traffic and I enjoyed most of it. CA drivers go FAST and they make efficient decisions like filling up unused lane space and just expeditiously GO. It was crowded beyond my imagination, but it worked.

    I was gone for 3 weeks on this road trip. On my drive back from CA up I-5 it was fast and for the most part, drivers shared the road and did 70-75MPH and kept right except to pass. The only morons that failed to follow this rule had WA and a few OR plates!

    Once I reached 50 miles south of Portland, that’s when the familiar aggravations kicked in with ALL drivers. Everyone going below speed limit, everyone doing the magnetic rolling road block and not making any effort to fill in dead space.

  • Hazel

    Oh, this is glorious! Having moved here from New York I have seen and suffered the emotional trauma of every item listed in this piece. The conclusion he draws is true, you really can’t fix stupid. If possible, take a bus and get into a book or an audio book, or something to take your mind off what is happening outside. If you have to drive, just surrender to the inevitable and try not to raise your bp too high.

  • Bryan

    Great article! As other readers have commented, you should add an addendum to your blog about the “Oblivous Left-Lane Campers” on the freeway.

  • FloridaDawg

    Seattle drivers–and nowadays I typically only visit during the tourist season–are C- at worst, while I live in Driver Hell, Florida.

    George Carlin said it best: Anyone who drives faster than you is a maniac, anyone who drives slower than you is an A-hole–most places have a 10 to 20 % ratio of A-hole and maniac to normal drivers, while Florida is more like 60%. You got your fresh off the boat types from countries with zero tradition of automobile ownership, your Caribbean types for whom red lights and yield signs are merely a suggestion, your street racers with their neon day-glo abominations with floor-width subwoofers, your urban types with their tractor wheeled donks (look it up), the snowbirds and retirees who can scarcely see over the steering wheel of the late ’70s behemoth they are haplessly “driving”, your swampers in their 4×4 trucks with wheels that dwarf the average Camry (confederate flag required), and your aimless yuppies with their cell phones surgically attached to their heads.

    Add in the fact that developers have nearly every politician in their back pocket so a 15,000 unit development is serviced by a two lane citrus farm road, and the swamps preclude roads where there should be roads, and you have Driver Hell.

    Seattle isn’t even in the same universe.

  • Mike

    You are absolutely correct. Seattle drivers are amongst the worst in the USA. The examiner at the Driving Test office told me they have a 70% pass rate on license test. That means only the stone blind or mentally deranged get denied a license in Washington State. They pretty much dont care.

    You’re right that they drive as though they’re in a little village somewhere. You would think they would want to improve the traffic at some point in the cities development.

    I tell people its like driving in New Delhi but in super slow motion.

  • Erin

    So true! I laughed out loud several times.

    I moved to Seattle from Milwaukee seven years ago and it was just baffling how badly people drove. Milwaukee’s not a huge city. The roads are just as ill-planned and confusing as here in Seattle (Waukesha’s worse), and yet people there know how to drive. They know how to use the left lane only for passing. They know which speed is appropriate for which weather condition. They know how to drive around the block instead of making a right turn from the left-turn lane!

  • Ben

    First problem with your video is the car has license plates that are not from Washington! I can not disagree with some of your argument, but most people in Seattle are not from here. There are more transplants than locals left. Seattle is also a unique city when it comes to driving, it is the northern most city in the continental US that is built on hills. There are some roads to steepe to pave, the are still brick! this makes it nearly impossible in heavy snow and at least hard in the rain, which as you know is most of the time.

    With all that said, this is a link to a classic local comeidy show, Almost Live! Sketch regarding a driving school in the traditional Norwegen community, Ballard.

  • Mark

    I moved to Bellevue from Long Beach, Ca. in late 2009, and at first it was great while the sun was out and people were driving in a nice manner on the road. But then the as the road winds, I start to notice that everyone seems to damn near go to a crawl, apparently this region does not have drivers that are capable of handling the sun in their eyes with sun glasses.

    Being me as a true Cali driver, I still fly down the road between 70-90 and still do not understand why people get on the road at a dismal 45mph! I am not talking about the street, I am talking about the damn freeway which has no rite to call it self the 405 as it will never flow like the true 405!

    Once thing to note is that drivers in Kirkland, Redmond, and Bellevue seem to get frazzled as you run right up their back side in a 35 while they are going only about 25.

    Seattlites, please do your self a favor and travel to Cali, NY, Texas, FLa and learn how to drive and not piss off everyone while doing it, and YES I will always be a Cali driver who drives like he is in Cali!!

    • Beyu

      I agree, as someone who has lived in Bellevue for +10 years the city does have quite a few bad drivers and I blame that on recent immigrants who suck at driving and dumb soccer moms in their gigantic SUVs. However, Seattle still takes the cake, I seriously hate having to go into Seattle because while both cities have bad drivers Seattle also has to deal with old, crappy roads, rude bicyclists, and jaywalkers who look like they’re trying to play a real life version of the 80s arcade game Frogger. Pedestrians honestly don’t seem to value their lives or perhaps they just don’t care because the guy in the car is always the bad guy. Then you have the alcoholics and drug addicts who seem to have no idea where they’re going so they stand in the street instead.

      On another note why does the writer of this article dislike the fact that there’s a anti-light rail sign in Bellevue? I don’t live in the Surrey Downs neighborhood where this sign is posted and building the LR would benefit me but I can still understand why the people who live there don’t want the LR.

      • chuckreis

        Was your comment an art piece on stereotyping?

        • Beyu

          No not really, these are just things that I’ve noticed while growing up in Bellevue. I have family members who fall into both categories and as an Asian person I’d have to say that it seems like a large majority of Asian and Middle Eastern people can’t drive that well. This isn’t to say that they’re bad people or that they’re not trying to learn but Bellevue’s been booming for the last decade or so and with a population that fluctuates based on large companies like Microsoft or Expedia perhaps recent immigrates just haven’t gotten use to driving yet. Having been an intern at Microsoft and a recruiter for them I know that a large number of their employees don’t actually have citizenship but are merely here on a work visa and on a contract basis, Expedia is the same.

          My mom (Asian) for example also sucks at driving and gets lost easily even though all of our cars have built in Nav from the factory. She ends up having to have my dad and I drive her everywhere if it happens to be further than our home in Bellevue and her workplace in Seattle.

          Her sister and her friends (soccer moms) are even worse. It’s honestly scary riding with them because they simply don’t follow the rules or use common sense when driving. In the past I remember telling one of them that they shouldn’t be driving on the bicycle lane and what she responded with was that “it’s ok to drive on the bicycle lane if no bicyclists are using them.”

  • thomas

    Question – is the “on-ramp stop to merge” a Seattle Surrender, or something different all together? This is one of my favorites because it actually puts other peoples’ lives in real and present danger.

  • tracy

    I started driving for king county metro transit in january and have experienced these and sooo much more. Every single time i go to make a turn and am blocked by idiot drivers, there they are, their car completely 100% in front of the intersection stop line, cellphone to their ear pretending like they have no idea they are in the way of the 60 foot bus. I dont know why they bother with all the “do not enter except bus” signs in downtown…drivers go whereever they feel like. Especially on 3rd during rush hour times with buses taking up all lanes, they think its okay to pass and drive wherever as if buses will never damage their car. The pedestrians and bicyclists are absolutely no better. Darting in the sliver of room between buses without looking, not in an intersection or crowsswalk. I guess seattle really does have a high suicide risk, seeing as they clearly have a deathwish.

  • Patti

    So funny! My fave problem drivers are the ones in the passing lanes who don’t pass and don’t realize if they are not passing, they should be in the right lane of the highway. Also the drivers who are sometimes too nice and stop to let someone in, putting everyone at risk behind them. You must travel to New Orleans sometime, though. There are some crazy habits there, too. Such as stopping in the street to talk to your friend on the sidewalk or your friend who is sitting in a parked car on the street, thus blocking traffic going in that direction. I can’t understand the aversion to mass transit here. We travelled all over New Orleans by bus. This region should have put light rail in years ago, instead of the bus tunnel!

  • Katie

    Just moved to Baton Rouge, LA, from Seattle.

    Not saying that Seattlites are absolutely amazing drivers, but Baton Rouge drivers are so much worse, it makes me want to cry.

    I’ve traveled a lot of places in the country, and have yet to see a city with such awful drivers as Baton Rouge.

  • Celeste

    I have two words for you: Lexington, Kentucky.

  • Jenny

    You are right. Tailgating is another problem AND people who stop on the freeway to wait until they can get into an exit lane. Also if you drive in Seattle you’d better learn about getting in line for your exit because they follow so close you’ll never make it in if you don’t. I’m a professional driver and I can’t believe how awful some people are at driving.
    The thing where people pull around you at a light when you are waiting at a green light makes me want to scream! Thanks for writing this.

  • Mike

    I totally agree with this post, but I will go one further and say that drivers on the ENTIRE I-5 corridor from Tumwater to Everett are the worst in America. NO ONE seems to know what the left lane is for and they won’t move even if you flash your lights to get them to move over. Just because you are going 62in the left lane doesn NOT mean you have the right to that lane even if someone behind you is on your butt….AND being in a passing lane DOES NOT mean that you can do 62 when the guy you are pacing in the middle lane is doing 60, thereby taking forever to complete the “pass.” Additionally, the sheer volume of traffic on I-5, which is fed by every single municipality in western Washington, cannot be handled by the road itself. Overpopulation on this side of the state has oversaturated the ability of the infrastructure to handle it. So what do the brilliant municipal leaders here do? NOTHING, except build, build, and build some more while hoping for the tax revenues but forgetting those tax revenues won’t keep up with the outrageous costs of modernizing the infrastructures. There should be a signs at ALL roads that cross the state line that says “GO BACK!! WE’RE FULL!”

  • Mike

    ALSO, while I’m thinking about it, if you enter an interstate highway, ACCELERATE ON THE RAMP!! This may come as a shock to some of you but you really should be at highway speed by the time you get to the end of the ramp….and NOT 40-45 MPH!! Morons….

  • Jay

    I agree with all of the comments from the author. I grew up in the Midwest (St.Louis) and I’ve been driven in LA, SF, Anaheim, Portland, St.Louis, Wichita, Dallas-Ft.Worth, Houston, and Seattle is the worst. Here are the gripes I want to add (which you have not covered):
    1. People who don’t use signals turning lanes or into areas. They do this even in medium traffic on highway which is reckless and stupid driving
    2. Pedestrians who think they are God and own the road. Jaywalking on do not walk, forcing oncoming traffic to wait for them as they take their sweeta$$ time. Oh, and they don’t look before they cross…idiots.
    3. So many cars with burnt out taillights and headlights and local cops do nothing. Some idiots don’t even turn on the lights when its dark outside.
    4. People constantly stepping on the brakes going downhill like 1-3mph over will give them a ticket. Little do they know they are killing their brakes.
    5. Cyclists following so close to cars acting like we have 360 deg view of them. Be smart and keep a distance…cars are heavier than bikes..duh.

    • Ihateseattletoo

      Hey Jay…I’m from Wichita and KCMO. You hit the nail on the head with the burned out tail lights! I often follow cars (mostly Saturns, Corollas, Mazdas, minivans) utilizing ONE center mount tail lamp for brake lights. Both left and right are burned out but the single bulb is all they have to indicate braking.

      And another favorite is NO SIGNALING! Or they will proceed into a fast brake turn and give a half flash. Very annoying.

      Have you been behind the lane drifters yet? You know, the ones that have rubbed the white paint line down to the pavement because they all drive ON THE FOG LINE!!

  • Jay

    Oh I forgot to add:
    6. Drivers who leave insane amount of space between cars (in front of them) in stoplights or traffic so that it creates traffic jams. The cars behind them are forced to stop at the other intersection or wait for the next light. And not its not raining or snowing, these drivers do it even on dry and sunny days. People lack the skill of depth perception.

  • Jay

    Sorry last one…….lol
    7. Don’t even think of staying on the outside lane of two lane turns because the inside lane driver just might accidentally or carelessly turn into the outside lane forcing you to be run off the road or worse……hit. I’ve seen this many times….

  • Dan

    LOL… None of these Seattle drivers would survive 5 minutes on a real highway. I would love to see what happens if you put them on the 110 just south coming off of the interchange from the 101 and told them to stay on there ( which requires 3 consecutive lane changes at 80mph). I think they would just cease to exist. But really, though many of the problems are exacerbated by poor road design( how many merges can you fit on an on ramp, you ask?), a city that is off in the clouds with ideas about people riding bicycles and taking public transit when these are for many impractical., rather than correcting the traffic problems. Too many people are scrambling for on street parking so they can avoid the price gouging rates that are charged in the parking garages and doing all sorts of crazy nonsense in doing so. It is high time that municipal garages be built that charged a reasonable (like $15 tops for a 24hr period) rate to park, putting the parking thieves out of business and hopefully correcting some of this mess.

  • Trevor

    Since moving to Capitol Hill, I’ve noticed most drivers are completely befuddled by the traffic circles on the residential streets. I have noticed two behaviors that seem to be related to each other:

    1. A driver will stop before the traffic circle or even in the middle of the circle and wait for oncoming traffic that has not yet arrived at the circle.
    2. A driver who hasn’t yet arrived at the circle will assume that I will do the above and will then blare on their horn and/or give me the finger when I continue to use my legal right of way.

    It’s exactly the same as a stop sign: whoever is first at the intersection has right of way, and if two cars arrive at the same time, the driver on the right-hand side has right of way. It’s so simple. I cannot understand why it is so confusing to people.

  • Tom

    1. Seattle drivers are so f******* used to green left-turn arrows on traffic lights that they will often just turn left as soon as they see a green light at any intersection, even if it doesn’t have a left-turn arrow. Result: they will turn left into traffic that is accelerating right at them.

    2. If an exit lane on a highway is backed up for a mile, Seattle drivers will drive right to the front of the line and come to a complete stop and try to merge into the exit lane. The lane could (should) be going at 70 MPH and they’re at a dead stop right in the middle of it. Everybody behind them has to merge left, and so on. That’s why the entire 520-405 interchange is stop-and-go for hours EVERY SINGLE AFTERNOON.

    3. I often jaywalk across a local street near my house. I wait patiently, just standing on the side of the road, for traffic to clear. 1 out of 5 cars will come to a complete stop on this semi-busy street to let me walk across, as if they’re doing me some kind of favor (I don’t even want to cross since traffic is still coming in the other lanes). Half of these people who stop are well-meaning but the other half are angry at me, when all I’m doing is standing on the sidewalk at the side of the road, as if it wasn’t their decision to stop and hold up traffic.

  • JM

    Wow. Thank you for writing this. It completely validates my 9 years of complaints (I moved here in 2003).

    Not sure if this has been mentioned, but my personal favorite is this: the weather gets sunny after a long period of rain. People freak out about the appearance of that bright orb in the sky! There are lots of accidents and traffic jams. Then, after a few sunny days, it rains again. Once more, people are completely perplexed, even though it rains here ALL THE TIME!

  • Adelia

    Wanted to thank you all for the rants and raves, as I was just subject to a person who insisted that I go the EXACT speed limit just last week, and it still bothers me. Here’s my story.

    I’m not Initial D or speed racer. I do go 5 miles or so over the speed limit. On a road with two lanes going the same direction, I had a car further ahead, moseying along in the left lane. I’ve learned that this is a part of life in Seattle. So, planning ahead (meaning; not coming up on her) I change lanes to the right and maintain my speed, knowing full well that it is illegal to pass on the right. The car paces me until we catch up with someone in the right lane. Then she sticks right by them, so I cannot pass. I roll my eyes. I’m not a stressed out person, I’m not running late. Whatever. Back into the left lane, behind her. Eventually l get the opportunity to try again to pass on the right. This time I downshift and go for it. She speeds up and doesn’t let me. We get to a red light. She’s making hand gestures that say 3 5 3 5 (the speed limit is 35). The next intersection she is in the right lane and I pull up next to her. I roll down my window because it is obvious she has something to say to me. Only she wants to say all kinds of rude things with her window up. I sign the ASL sign for thank you (my dry, sarcastic brain thinking “thank you for teaching me right from wrong, I never knew the speed limit meant something. I will never go over it again) and continue on my day.

    I still am bothered by this. I hope she dies in a fiery car crash. I really do. She violated 3 rules (impeding traffic, maintaining a speed, and not keeping right) to insist that I obey the one she likes. It’s not like I was driving erratically. Aren’t there starving children in Africa or teenagers texting while driving that she could focus on instead?

    Thanks for letting me vent, I hope I can forget about it now.

  • Heather

    Settle is to America, what Vancouver is to Canada. You have just described the exact same driving we encounter here and I’m pretty sure our downtown core is even smaller. Horn use is almost non-existent here and in fact in can be risky to honk your horn as you may startle the recipient into causing an accident. We have the same objections here to expanding our rapid transit but some of the worst driving in Canada. The only other place I’ve seen more bizarre driving is in Paris where they’ll cheerfully park on the sidewalk right in front of you (the pedestrian) or pull up to the centre of a meridian to chat on their mobile phone. Horns, however, are freely used. Just ignored.

  • MisterCorso

    Spend a year (hell, a month) driving in southern Maine.

    When you return to Seattle, you’ll kiss the next “surrender” so fiercely that bards will immortalize the moment in song.

  • will

    I.just experienced a, classic example of a, reverse roadblock today on Alki! . There was a parking space atleast 4 car lengths long. Driver pulls up car parked up front, sits there a minute then attempts to back up.into the space. She got a nice long.honk

  • Jayx91

    Lol I think the epidemic is spreading. Quite a few states away, but I’m downtown picking up my girl from ladies night out in the middle of friday night madness and I encounter a DOUBLE reverse roadblock! Two cars at once making laughable attempts to parallel park into spots one car away from each other! Traffic backed up into the intersection as they make two and then three attempts in and out of the spots as fellow inebriated hipsters shout encouragement from the sidewalk, and I pray for one of them to do us all a favor and stomp on the gas instead of the brake the next time daddy’s car bounces off the curb and take out five or six of them in one blessed miracle… er… tragic accident. Anyway, just thought I’d share as this post was the first thing to penetrate the red haze and angry honking obscuring my thoughts

  • CA-Or-Bust

    Aside from the undeniable truth to the examples given in this article, I must say that I would be a much happier Seattle driver if people would use the passing lane on the freeway as just that: a passing (or fast) lane. So many times have I seen a car get on the freeway and risk life and limb getting to the far left lane as quickly as possible, and then simply coast along like they have all the time in the world. Forget the fact that there are at least *2* other lanes that could be used for taking your sweet time. The level of ignorance when it comes to basic knowledge of rules of the road is astonishing.

  • Double D

    I am late to discover this article but just wanted to say that you nailed it so very, very hard. Seattle drivers are infuriating on a daily basis. They consider themselves to be courteous drivers but really they are just timid, indecisive, and unaware of how their actions affect everyone else on the road. I will even give them the (undeserved) benefit of the doubt on I-5, which was designed so poorly with entrances and exits on both sides of the road to essentially guarantee a perpetual traffic jam, but I cannot explain or excuse the situation on northbound 99 into town every morning during rush hour. From the moment that East Marginal Way becomes the Alaskan Way Viaduct until you are all the way through downtown Seattle, the left lane is the through lane. There are no exits or entrances merging in the left lane. The right lane on the other hand has all the merging traffic from the West Seattle Freeway, then more merging traffic at the entrance by the stadiums. Inexplicably, the left lane is consistently the slower of the two lanes every single morning. WTF, Seattle drivers? You really are the very worst drivers of all.

  • jackson

    And by the way, what is it that happens to the collective mentality at the dreaded four-way stop? Is it really that difficult a concept to grasp. Please, passive-aggressive Seattle, if you are simply incapable of knowing who moves first, and instead you elect to surrender to a more decisive, competent driver, then don’t subsequently honk at, flip the bird at, or throw dirty looks at said driver for having the wherewithal to learn, know, and practice the rules of the road.

  • Chuckreis

    Can I flip off and yell at the fuckers that stop in crosswalks, don’t stop for crosswalks and almost run me over every fucking time I set foot on a street?

    Some of us, when driving, like to stop (a full stop) and check for peds and bikes at intersections, because you know sometimes they are there and pausing to make sure no one is going to run them over.

  • Seattleborn1960

    I was born and raised in Seattle. I went to school there and learned to drive there. However, there was less traffic and it was much less chaotic when I learned to drive in the mid 70’s. A lot has changed since then and I live way out in the sticks. When I do go in to “the city” I see and experience everything that was mentioned in the article. I have to laugh because he was right on target. My husband moved here from California in the early 90’s and had never experienced drivers like Seattle drivers. He now commutes from our rural haven into Seattle 4 days a week and encounters this stuff everyday that he’s there. I have to agree, no amount of money or additional roads will change the situation.

  • Houston Texan

    I was in town for a week with my son, who just moved to Green Lake from Houston, Texas (lots of fast highway drivers). What we noticed was that the weekday drivers on I-5 drove the speed limit, were very courteous, and used their blinkers. We never heard a car horn, never saw a car wreck, & never heard an emergency siren. I’d guess that to improve the traffic problem, you need more signage before exits and possibly, promote public transportation more because we didn’t see much room for more highways. I wish we had the public transportation here that Seattle has!

  • Houston Texan

    He’s not a cop and I love to fly on the endless Houston highways in my SRX. I guess I was in awe of the cool weather, great highway sights, and nice folks of Seattle to see a problem with the slow pokes on the road.

    • Forget what you saw. You have a drinking problem exacerbated by a nasty Vicodin habit, and this clearly clouded your judgement.

      Repeat after me, “Seattle is a third-world burg, inferior to Texas in every way. Not only would I never live there, but as far as I’m concerned, visiting is out of the question as well!”

      Got it?

      Now, go forth through the land of Texas, and tell people what you’ve learned here. Tell them of the cold, socialist shithole, filled with eskimos, anglers, and serial killers. Oh, and the drivers suck.

      Do you catch my drift, or are you and I going to have a problem?

  • Houston Texan

    It’s just another nice place to visit. I promise I won’t send more drivers to your city. It’s too crowded 😉
    Is that better?

    • That’s more like it.

      On a completely unrelated note, does anyone know if I can return a severed horse head?

      I assume there will be some kind of restocking fee, but it doesn’t look like I’ll be using it.

  • JVC

    Totally agree. I have driven all over the country and the idiots here are the worst. The absolute worst. My favorite is probably this: You are driving in the middle lane. The idiot in front of you is driving 20 miles under the speed limit. You move to the left lane and pass them. However, right as you get close to them, they stomp on the gas and cut you off, forcing you to go back to the middle lane, go 20 miles over the speed limit, to pass them. That happens every single day.

    Other stuff Seattle idiots do:

    They love to drive in packs. You have to weave through the pack to get to the wide open space in front of it.
    Random lane changes. Apparently they get bored easily and decide to explore other lanes, usually while going less than the speed limit.
    The speed limit is scary and should not ever be attempted. Either that or they confuse kilometers with miles.

    I love Seattle, but having grown up in Philadelphia, where people drive aggressively as a form of life, it is maddening to drive here. And there is just an endless supply of idiots, even when you get around one, there are oh so many remaining to pass.

  • Heidi Witherspoon

    AMEN. Don’t go blaming CALI for this, either. At least CALI drivers get through town.

  • Erika

    Actually some of the driving is as bad or worse in the rural areas(outside Redmond). They pull the same tactics along with cut-offs, forced lane changing (they have a big truck and are entitled), tailgating(yes at 50 mph), making you stop so they can pull out of parking (because they are entitled), and nearly running you off the road when trying to pass you in hazardous conditions because you are not doing the speed limit, among other fun habits.

    Having driven through DC, Baltimore, NYC, Hartford and Jersey Turnpike (which should have its own zipcode)I have seen my share of stupid driving.

    But, from Pittsburg PA where drivers think that the “yield” sign at the end of the on-ramp means that through traffic has to yield TO THEM, to Albuquerque NM where 1/4 of the drivers on the road at any given time are intoxicated and/or high and possibly armed, none of them have displayed such a density of poor drivers.

    Much of the poor driving out here appears to stem from some form of “most important person on the road” syndrome (usually an SUV or pick-up truck) , but maybe they really are that ditzy.

    At least in New Mexico they have the excuse of being intoxicated.

    • Luchog

      The “I’m more important” thing is what we can East Side Entitlement attitude. East Side is where all the jerks with money live. The more money they have, the less the rules apply to them, apparently.

  • Lindsay

    Oh my gosh, I love you! I moved here from Portland six months ago and every day I feel like I am losing my mind because of the drivers up here. I have never encountered anything like the Seattle Surrender and I see it multiple times on my 3 mile commute. It is to the point where I have all but given up my car in favor of taking my chances as a pedestrian. Thanks so much for the great read, it is wonderful to hear that other people understand my pain.

  • Hdrew

    The worst is the left lane here! It’s state law for passing only, yet people just camp there! I think the HOV lane is to blame. People go in that lane just because they have numbers leaving the real “left” lane like any other. It’s maddening! Pass on the left then move the fuck over like the rest of the country does.

  • Mr Focus

    “residents of the core walk and bike everywhere”

    98% of the people of Texas would claim that this is un-American.

  • nikola marshall

    Don’t drive downtown.

    Problem solved.

  • As a professional driver I could not agree with you more.

  • Avendora

    I drive roughly 50-60K miles a year. I know others drive more. But I drive a lot!

    Indecision kills!

    Women and Asians are horrible drivers (there are exceptions to every stereotype).

    My view, I don’t have time to waste. So if you’re slow, I’m going to pass you.

    Your blinker is NOT an Exclamation point, but a question mark!!!

    Take trucks into consideration (delivery, long-haul, etc). If you get in front of them, leave some room for them to brake. DO NOT CUT THEM OFF AT AN OFFRAMP!!! Do not jump in front of them and then slow down!!! Give them space if they want over!

    Make a decision and stick to it. If you’re wrong, people can work around that, but at least you stuck to your plan. When you can’t figure out what you’re doing, that’s when accidents happen.

    Don’t be afraid to change lanes to whichever is moving faster. Look up ahead at the traffic pattern.

    Learn the side streets!!! I can get from Lake City to Sumner in 1 hr and 15 minutes on average at 6pm at night!

    If the freeway makes you nervous, do us all a favor and stay in the right lane please!

    That is all I have for the moment.

  • etaoin shrdlu

    Agree completely. Moved here from Chicago 14 years ago and I am still in culture shock each time I get behind the wheel.

    The quirk that really gets to me is the half block a Seattle driver puts between his car and the car in front — WHEN STOPPED IN TRAFFIC. Doesn’t matter how jammed the roads are, how close the traffic is to gridlock. These Seattle morons just won’t tighten things up. WHY??

  • C.M. 206

    I have an unfortunate amount of people in my life who identify as coming from somewhere on the east coast, and you know what? It’s not just the driving habits of Washingtonians that they complain about, it’s EVERYTHING! Nothing but passive aggressive, tree hugging, hipster snobs that live out here, according to the ‘wisdom’ of the east coast mentality. I have seen time and time again, as some undesirable behavior of your typical Seattleite is observed by the east coaster, criticized, and ultimately attributed to the dysfunctional nature of our existence on this coast. I perused the comments of this blog, and while I’m sure there were people who share my sentiment, an overwhelming majority of you transplant jagweeds came to sing praises and to corroborate the accuracy of this article. So, the only logical solution to our collective issue with the drivers in the Seattle area is that you all go back to your respective ‘beloved’ cities where people drive to your liking. You know what else the citizens of your east coast urban centers are really skilled at? Shooting people with guns! There were 47 people shot last weekend in Chicago, almost 30 the weekend before that, but THANK GOODNESS PEOPLE KNOW HOW TO DRIVE THERE. Maybe you can go home and drive 10 over the speed limit so you can get to the intersection where you’ll be robbed at gunpoint in a timely fashion! To all you douches complaining about the traffic and poor quality of drivers here, why don’t you take a second to be grateful there is BARELY a neighborhood in Seattle that you even have to FEAR becoming a victim of gun violence, while your chances of actually being victimized are very slim. Or, instead of griping about how the suburban landscape is so close to the urban center, as to cause the inexperienced drivers to flood in, you could appreciate that, unlike on the east coast, you DON’T have to travel hundreds of miles to experience all of the beautiful nature the PNW has to offer. I will conclude with this: I was raised with some of the best traffic safety instruction available, including learning to drive with my father who was a police patrolman for over 35 years. I didn’t grow up in Seattle, but I have lived here for a long time and, I agree, Seattle drivers are pretty awful. However, Seattle and the Northwest as a whole is a wonderful place so pipe down, Gabroni, and give yourself a few extra minutes to get to your destination.

    • While “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” is a nice sentiment, I don’t believe it reflects the realities of modern life in a large-ish city. Neither does “give yourself a few extra minutes to get to your destination”. While this is a reasonable goal, life is filled with all kinds of unpredictable, dynamic, highly-variable things which prevent such simple directions from being followed flawlessly, day after day. Not everyone’s life is a charmed one, or equally charmed, and whether or not you are exposed to it, Seattle has it’s share of issues.

      Have you any idea how much time, and how many resources are spent dedicated to this issue? All predicated on the notion that the primary cause of gridlock is a lack of money thrown at the problem. We just signed off on a $5 Billion tunnel that is supposed to alleviate traffic Downtown, yet which will increase traffic.

      We’ll have to spend even more money to alleviate that.

      Identifying the major causes of traffic issues are a primary concern in any metropolitan area. In Seattle, these causes are repeatedly mis-identified, which prevents the problems from being solved successfully.

      Maybe someone should say something, eh? Maybe “look at all this natural beauty” doesn’t work in all scenarios?

      This does not even address the safety issues. As Mike Wang was being run over by an SUV in South Lake Union, I’m going to guess he wasn’t thinking “oh look, Rainier’s out today”. There are far more vehicle-related deaths in this tiny geographic area than there should be.

      Seattle’s abhorrent driving problem is a financial problem, a safety problem, a resource problem, and a quality-of-life problem.

      All cities have problems. The residents of those cities talk about those problems. Maybe even commiserate about them. I’m sorry if that annoys you, but that’s what the human animal does. Always has, always will, I imagine.

      There is also a certain relief that people feel when they realize that other’s share their same frustrations. It’s become a hostile world (or perhaps it’s always been one), and recognizing that one is not alone can make one feel better. Sort of a “misery loves company” thing.

      This does not mean that they do not appreciate the town’s attributes. It does not mean that they do not take advantage of the town’s attributes. How much would you like to bet that I’ve posted more photos of Seattle’s scenic beauty than any single author on the Internet? 60,000 and counting. There’s simply a time and place for everything.

  • Ann

    Seriously? You take 1st Avenue from Pioneer Square to Lower Queen Anne? Lights on 4th Avenue are synced perfectly and make the trip you cite easy within 10 minutes.
    I don’t dispute that traffic here is bad, but to say that 100% of downtown drivers are from out-of-town and that you see at least 20 practicing your so-called “Seattle Surrender” on any trip through downtown? C’mon now. Do you have drama queen tendencies?
    Having lived and worked here for over 30 years, I see a lot of cautious drivers, and a few out-of-towners who freak out when they hit the busy streets. That’s about it.

    • I don’t dispute that traffic here is bad, but to say that 100% of downtown drivers are from >out-of-town and that you see at least 20 practicing your so-called “Seattle Surrender” on any trip through downtown? C’mon now.

      Here is the quote from my article that you have taken exception to:

      “In the course of an average day, I encounter the Surrender no fewer than 20 times.”

      Ann, I’m going to assume that your driving skill matches your reading comprehension skill. That is, perceived to be better by you than by others.

      Do you have drama queen tendencies?

      Let me ask you something, Ann. Do you know anyone that doesn’t? Especially up here?

      I mean, you’ve no doubt heard that it “rains all the time” here, no? Yet, look outside. Have you ever seen such a blue sky in all your life?

      Remember the Slutwalk? 200 woman in lingerie marching down Pine Street to protest the opinion of a single police officer 3,000 miles away in Toronto?

      Do you know what we call opponents of gay marriage in this town? Evil hate-mongers. Yeah, evil hate-mongers, I kid you not.

      Face it, Ann, Seattle may as well be renamed ‘Drama Queen City’. I suppose some of it is in the eye of the beholder, though.

      See, when people say things we agree with, it’s a valid observation. When they say things that we disagree with, they’re drama queens.

      I live in Downtown Seattle. If I want to see what the traffic is like Downtown, I open my window and look down. I’m on these streets (well, sidewalks mostly) each and every day, with zero exceptions. I was once a bicycle messenger on these streets. I once drove a cab on these streets. Nearly 100% of my non-working life is confined to two square miles, from Elliot Bay to Broadway, from Dearborn to Mercer. Weekends? Here. Holidays? Here. My entire family lives in this same two square miles. Outside of taking the ferry to and from work, I don’t think I’ve left the Seattle City limits in years. In that time, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve left this 2 square miles. I concede that it’s almost pathetic to have such a tiny bubble encompass your entire existence, but I doubt that there’s anything that you, or anyone else for that matter, could tell me about about this small geographical slab.

      Of course, you all think you’re experts, and that’s really the problem. Driver’s skills rarely match their perceptions of their skills. Everyone knows everything about driving around here, yet when you stand on the corner and watch what goes on, you can’t help but wonder where all of those experts went.

      Now, if you have an opinion on the matter, that’s great, and I’m happy to read it.

      That said, please note that I share my experiences on my own website. Which I built, and which I pay for. There are no ads here. I make nothing. In fact, I do nothing but spend money for this website’s existence. There aren’t many websites you can say that for these days.

      I don’t invite people to my website, but it’s here if they find their way to it, and I’m happy to provide it to them if they wish. This being the case, though, how I do or do not choose to express myself is really none of anyone else’s business. My website is the appropriate place to pen my experiences in the manner I wish to write them, no? I have zero incentive to be deceptive, and I never intentionally am, but I write how I write. Take it or leave it.

      Do you knock on the doors of random houses, and ask people if they are blind, because you don’t like the color of their drapes?

      I should hope not.

      So, while I appreciate your interest in the topic, taking shots at the messenger, when the messenger is providing the means for your comments, speaks more about your penchant for drama than it does mine.

  • Jeffrey Izzo

    Not a native, but I consider Seattle my adopted home — I was born and raised in New Jersey (New York Metro Area)and lived for many years in Boston (even drove a cab there in college). So as much as I adore the city, I feel your pain. But you left out one extremely important one — the Utter Inability To Drive in Inclement Weather. Now I’m not talking about snow — Seattle drivers’ total lack of driving skill in 2 inches of snow is legendary. But in all fairness, you can chalk at least some of that up to the sporadic appearance of the white stuff, the hills, and the total lack of snow removal equipment — 15 years in Seattle and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a salt truck (except at the passes). But rain? Commuting on a drizzly morning, one can rely on there being at least a half a dozen accidents. Drivers either slow down to a dangerously over-cautious rate, or rely on the gimendous AWD vehicles to rescue them from the laws of physics and take corners at 60 mph. Ultimately, this is really the result of Seattle drivers’ inability to cope with ANY situation out of the ordinary — a police car stopping cars in the opposite direction on I5, a lane closure, even very sunny days. Once when I was driving northbound on I5 near the Michigan St exit, about a half a mile up ahead there was an ambulance stopped (no shoulder there, so understandable). The driver in front of me JAMMED on the brakes and came to a complete halt in the left lane. Luckily I was able to brake in time. Unreal.

    Oh and let’s not forget the 4-Way Stop Syndrome — like the Looney Toons chipmunks, it can be 10 minutes of “after you” and “no, you first” then “no, I insist” Aggggghhhhhh!!!!

    Still, I wouldn’t live anywhere else (even though I now do part of the year for job reasons).

  • felice

    I love the ‘Seattle Surrender’ description – oh so true! I call the Seattle Driving Syndrome “the only person on the road” (usually at the top of my lungs when I’m stuck behind one of these morons/jerks).

    This is why Seattle drivers don’t understand the concept of traffic flow, or why it’s important to pay attention to traffic signage (no matter how crappily planned). When you’re the only driver on the road, who cares about speed, blinkers, how you merge – wheeeeeee!

    And I find that these folks handle their shopping carts the same way. Just go to Whole Foods on a Saturday during ‘family hours’ – you’ll find at least one ‘only shopper in the store,’ taking up an entire bloody aisle. And there’s probably one on every single aisle.

    I live in Seattle and I don’t bother owning a car. I only want to spend so many hours of my life yelling at these people.

  • Kim

    I am a 40 year old Seattle native living in Ballard. I have lived in Austin, where drivers act like they always have an extra 10 feet of lane on both sides of them, and the on ramps are deadly. In LA and Chicago where driving is fast and aggressive, and also in Europe. The thing about everywhere else is that there are a few traits that become predictable, which you adapt to. I have always said the same as what Jeff Campbell said above: most Seattle drivers are not from here. That is also to my benefit, because they don’t know alternate routes. They don’t know where side streets lead. This article is spot on and now I have a name for that random stopping! After living in Hawaii where everyone stops for their cousin and is on island time, I can handle the Surrendering, and one thing I learned in New England was that folks aren’t so stuck in principle or scared to poke across the yellow line to get around someone. What I would really like to have addressed publicly is MERGING. Merging when you have a yield sign. Either Seattle drivers are too self centered to understand the word Yield or its not a problem specific to this city and doesn’t warrant an outcry similar to this article. The only thing I didn’t like about this article was the she-baiting. I would have mixed it up with she and he. It seemed obvious that you were trying to get people to complain about that, and it takes away from the rest of the piece.

    • The only thing I didn’t like about this article was the she-baiting. I would have mixed it up with she and he. It seemed obvious that you were trying to get people to complain about that, and it takes away from the rest of the piece.

      Well now you know how we feel. Not that you care.

      I, myself, used to use “he” exclusively. One day, I noticed this, thought about it, and realized that I was being bigoted. This is not a conclusion that most people will allow themselves to reach. And, because I have so many article with exclusive “he’s”, I tend to vary it up, although not usually in the same article. When I’m the only website in Washington State that does it this way, it’s a fallacy to say that I need to “balance it out”. It’s me vs. 5,000. It will always be unbalanced in favor of the villager’s prejudices, regardless of what I do. You cannot sincerely be offended by such a ratio. If you are, then balance was never your goal.

      While I care what people think to a degree, I’d still much rather be right than popular. And try as you might, you will not find a single ad on this site, so unlike most sites, I don’t have to cater to the insincere PR whims of advertisers (all of whom would support slavery were it in fashion).

      Most authors don’t mix it up. Most use “he” exclusively in pieces like this. In my entire life, I’ve never seen anyone complain about it. I’ve never once heard it called “he-baiting”. Not one, single, solitary time.

      As such, unless you can point to where you complain on another website for the author using “he” exclusively, I believe that it’s clear that your opinion is a result of bigotry. It is, at the very least, the result of hypocrisy. Hypocrisy which nobody will call you out on, because people want to be on the side of the majority, and you’re anonymous anyway which is risk-free (which I assume is the point). In my opinion, it’s still wrong.

      You’re entitled to your opinion, though, and I respect it. At least I would if you’d made it with some skin in the game, but anonymity precludes a certain amount of respect by its nature.

  • Andrea

    I just returned from a trip to Seattle last week and encountered every single one of these examples! I moved away 14 years ago, but still cringe when I’m on Mercer where the road divides under the overpass — I ended up rear-ending a “Seattle Surrender”-er because I couldn’t stop in time. How was I to know that somebody was going to randomly stop in the MIDDLE OF THE ROAD FOR NO REASON AT ALL!!! Wish your blog post had been available then so I could have been properly prepared.

  • Cecily

    I learned to drive in Miami. I kept a car in Boston for 7 years. I drove all over New England and New York. I never had road rage until I drove in Seattle. OMG. The driving dissolves on the highway as well. My particular fury is when a row of cars all line up in each other’s blind spots across every lane of traffic on I5 and go 10 miles under the speed limit. No one can pass. They are clueless.

  • SunnBobb

    As a motorcycle rider, I can relate to this even more, as I am invisible to the masses. I think the Surrender has gotten worse as people stop to look at their GPS. As time moves forward, the ability to drive via dead reckoning will be bred out of the human race…

  • Katherine

    It’s the merge, THE MERGE! From WSB onto 99 north. People: the solid white lane marker means do not cross. It does not mean stop dead and make what is essentially a left turn into the crawling lane of traffic, causing both that lane and everyone behind you to also come to a dead stop. Move forward until the lane line turns into dashes and then find an opening so you can merge into the crawl at speed, in a zipper-like fashion. And use the entire damned merge lane to do it. That’s what that lane is for! Drives me bat-shit crazy that so few people know how to do this. I’ve even had people try to block me from using the entire merge lane because they’re pissed off that they’re sitting in line and they want to make damned sure I stay behind them.

  • Tony Tee

    I share your opinion of Seattle drivers, as I was a bus driver for Metro for nearly 3 years and experienced absolute terror and frustration at the hands of self-centered and passive/aggressive twats who cared nothing for the safety of anyone but themselves. I’ve never actually witnessed narcissistic driving until I got behind the wheel of a Metro bus and was regularly subjected to vehicles speeding past me, then cutting over and slamming on their brakes at the last possible second to make a turn at an upcoming intersection. The very sight of a bus attempting to enter traffic from a bus stop seemed to fill oncoming drivers with a peculiar form of desperate rage that manifested itself in a vehicular tirade, an automotive hissy fit, and one that, more often than not, jeopardized the safety of both themselves and the passengers on my bus. The state of Seattle drivers perfectly reflects the state of the average Seattle citizen – self-centered, passive/aggressive, condescending, and self-righteous to the hilt. No amount of money thrown at transportation in this city will amount to anything other than more confusion and more gridlock. Maybe a required remedial driving course, followed by a primer on how to not behave like a twat?

  • Shane

    Look, as bad as Seattle drivers are, there are plenty worse out there. Try living in the midwest. I’m from Seattle originally but I’ve been living in Oklahoma City for the past 4 years. Every time I come home, the driving experience is actually a relief. Yes that’s right…..a RELIEF. That’s a sad state of affairs I know but it really is the truth. Midwest drivers are guilty of all the above issues and then some. In addition to all these problems, they also never, and I mean NEVER, use their turn signal for anything. It’s like there are spiders crawling all over their blinker and they just have this absolute aversion to it. On the freeways, no one ever pays attention to the signs so I’m always witnessing an “almost wreck” or an actual wreck because somebody is swerving across three lanes of traffic to catch their exit at the last second. It’s like everyone stays in the fast lane until they absolutely have to get off at their exit. And don’t even get me started on the on and off ramps around here. Holy shit. I’ve noticed a few commentors here who are from or have at least driven in and around Texas and you know what I’m talking about. I guess the overall traffic in and around Seattle can be worse simply by virtue of the fact that there’s three times as many people. Quality of the driving though, while certainly bad, is definitely not the worst that I’ve experienced.

  • Concerned

    The only solution is hyper expensive licensing and actual enforcement of the traffic laws with hyper expensive penalties.

  • MG

    I wish you peace.

  • Derrick

    Rex, I specifically searched the web for an opinion that would validate and succinctly relay what I think each day as commute to work. This article is COMPLETELY ON POINT and extremely funny!

    As a Seattle native – born and raised in the central district – I couldn’t agree with you more. I have lived in NYC and Atlanta, spent time in Miami and Chicago, and have driven all the way across this great nation of ours and have never seen a more inept collection of drivers in my life. The “Seattle Surrender.” LMAO! “Driver’s Ed teacher at Bumbletwat High School.” Priceless!!!!

  • Brian Hogan

    Oh but you’ve forgotten the worst of them all. Not sure of the name for it, but the left lane/passing lane highway drivers in Seattle, and WA for that matter, who go at or under the speed limit and refuse to move over. Ever. Under any circumstances. And who then look at you incredulously when you finally pass them on their right. As if to say “I’m going the speed limit and you are a felon”. It shouldn’t take 9 hours to drive to Portland, 3 hours to get to Ellensburgh, etc. Madness I tell you.

  • The lack of spacial awareness is another killer. People slowing down or stopping to float between 2 lanes if anything larger than a bicycle is parked to the right of them on the road, despite having anywhere from 3-4 feet of space. This thing is so prevalent in DT and West Seattle it turns me into a raving lunatic for most drives. It’s like watching your Grandmother play her first driving game on a Nintendo 64. UGH.

  • Joe S

    Reason you’re getting the “Surrender”

    Your probably tailgating them.. so they stop and let you pass because they don’t like you sticking to their behinds.

    • ROFLMAO! Yes, yes, “tailgating”, that’s the major cause of downtown rush hour gridlock. The clueless tourist driving is merely a reaction to the pesky tailgating. I say, you straight-up cracked that nail squarely on the head there, Cletus. Two car lengths at all times, folks! Eh, city slickers, amirite? By the way, just a heads up, I have it on good authority that the fat guy and the college boy will have a companion with them on the canoe trip this weekend. Do not, I repeat, do NOT cornhole piggie this time. You’ll thank me later.

      • Mike

        I wanted you to know I think your assessment of the Seattle driver may deserve a Pulitzer. Not an ass kisser…never have been, but I have to agree with EVERYTHING you have addressed. Truth….if people here in Seattle were trying to drive for shit, they wouldn’t get a whif. I have always said that Seattle drivers make their own traffic jams. Road IQ of -60. You said it best when you stated that “you can’t fix stupid.” And you couldn’t be more correct regarding the Seattle driver’s selfish arrogant fucking attitude of, “I can do no wrong. I am always right. I am always entitled. I NEVER fuck up. I’m me. I’m a special little snowflake…just ask me.” I was silly to think I was the only one who noticed this nonsense.

        The subtypes of Seattle drivers: The surrenderer, the creeper, the monitor, the left lane hog, the legislator, the tattle tale, the vigilante, the tour guide, the brake expert, and the crybaby. Any Seattle driver can fill any of these roles at any time. Let me know if I left anything out. Thanks, Seattle Rex.



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