The good news: Salt Lake metro area drivers are improving. The bad news: they still are the sixth worst in the nation among its 75 largest metro areas.
That’s according to rankings released Thursday by QuoteWizard, a website for comparing car insurance.
The company sometimes issues rankings by state and sometimes by cities.
“Utah and Salt Lake City have always rated pretty poorly,” said Adam Johnson, a research analyst with QuoteWizard. “In our first study in 2016, Utah was actually our worst driving state overall.”
That improved to No. 3 worst in 2017, and the latest study about cities has Salt Lake City ranking slightly better — but still doing poorly.
The study bases rankings on four factors: accidents, speeding tickets, DUIs and other citations (such as running red lights, driving while talking on cellphones, etc.).
“We found Salt Lake City to have a high rating in speeding tickets and in citations. Those are really the two main factors that drove Salt Lake City’s ranking so high,” Johnson said.
Even though Utah now has the nation’s toughest drunken driving law — with a 0.05% blood alcohol limit, instead of the 0.08% level in other states — Johnson said Salt Lake City still ranked among the 20 worst cities nationally for its ratio of DUIs to drivers.
Nationally, the study declared drivers in Portland, Ore., as the nation’s worst, and those in Detroit as the best.
It said Portland was worst largely because “it was the most lead-footed city in the country with the highest rate of speeding tickets.”
The study said Detroit finished near the top in all categories, but “what might be the only caveat to Detroit being the one true best drivers in the country is their high rate of uninsured drivers.”
Other studies through the years have giving wildly varying grades to drivers in Salt Lake City and Utah.
Earlier this year, an Allstate Insurance study ranked Salt Lake drivers No. 67 among the country’s 200 largest cities — saying they are in accidents about once every 9.8 years, worse than the national average of a wreck every 10.6 years.
Also this year, Carinsurance.com called Utah the best place in the nation to drive, based on what it said is “the state’s low crash-related fatalities and excellent road conditions, as well as lower-than-average congestion, uninsured drivers and auto insurance costs.”
Five years ago, Insure.com ranked Utah drivers as the 10th rudest in the nation.