By on April 8, 2021

driving badlyDrivers of certain cars are prone to drive badly in foul weather. Over four million applicants for insurance are a pretty good indicator. Is it the type of car, or a more aggressive driver? You be the judge.

Fog, rain, snow, and ice are weather conditions that could make a road unsafe even at the posted speed limit. Driving too fast for the setting you’re in is a tough ticket to beat. You’re not a trained observer and it’s their assessment that counts. Next, your speed should be slow enough to stop and avoid a collision. It could be a third less than the limit or slower because it all depends on the situation.

Driving faster than conditions allow is as dangerous for you as it is for others nearby. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said that over a quarter of traffic fatalities are speed-related. This citation in some states can be as much as $1,000 and may include the possibility of jail time. Insurance rates rose by an average of 53 percent for this offense.

drive badly

Is it ignorance, or blind faith in the bad weather capabilities of certain cars? According to Insurify analysts, certain car models attract unsafe drivers. With the huge database of insurance applicants they have to work with, they can identify the worst drivers in bad weather, and the cars they drive. The link between the two is such that they can make blanket statements about types of cars and who drives them.

There’s a luxury brand preference among bad drivers in inclement weather. The worst drivers in bad weather chose eight out of ten luxury brands. Audi and BMW each had three models, and Acura and Mercedes -Benz followed with one each. Is it the car’s abilities that cause drivers to drive too fast for the weather conditions?

Least likely to be cited are Nissan Leaf drivers at 0.9 drivers per 1,000 ticketed. Next is the Dodge Grand Caravan with 1.2 drivers, and the Volvo XC90, with 1.4 drivers. Owners of these vehicles tend to drive safely in hazardous conditions.

3.24 drivers out of 1,000 receive tickets for driving too fast in foul weather. How do the analysts know about drivers and their history behind the wheel? This information is on their insurance application, along with the type of car they drive, their driving history, and any moving violations noted.

[Images: © 2021 J. Sakurai/TTAC, Insurify]

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57 Comments on “QOTD: What Cars Are Driven Badly in Unpleasant Conditions?...”


  • avatar
    ajla

    My unscientific ranking of badly driven vehicles:
    0. 5+ year old Nissans
    1. Modified trucks
    2. 5+ year old minivans
    3. NonWrangler Jeeps

    Maybe I just don’t live in an area with enough fancy cars but premium brand drivers tend to be reasonably well-behaved.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @ajla – modified trucks especially “coal rollers” tend to drive like douchbags. There is a direct correlation to loudness. The noisier the exhaust, the greater the douchbag. That holds true for cars, SUV’s, trucks, and motorcycles.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Around here there’s a segment of Very Important Executives, overwhelmingly white and in their late 50s or 60s, who just understand that they are more important than the other plebes on the road and drive their X5s and Q7s with zero regard for public safety. They’re especially prone to running red lights, cutting pedestrians off in crosswalks, and driving 50 mph on residential streets.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    The cute little Yaris seems like a total outlier on that list?

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    I always think of people driving high clearance vehicles who assume they can ford a low water crossing, and they probably can, but not when there’s even just a little current flowing and the water is just a little too deep. Something you can’t really tell just by looking at it. And suddenly you’re swept off the road, flipped over and drowned.

    • 0 avatar

      Remember seeing an individual driving a ‘modified’ 4wd pickup – big tires, raised, etc. – driving along at a clip a bit too fast for the road surface they were on – half inch or so of snow which assured a longer than usual stopping distance. They were going to make a right turn onto another road. Saw the brake lights go on and the truck slid in a straight line right past the intended turn. Yes indeed, it may be a 4wd with crazy ‘off road’ looking tires, but the law of physics is not easily thwarted. Over confidence – or a misunderstanding of the reality of said physics – contributed to the driver missing the turn. Thankfully there was no oncoming or cross traffic (I enjoyed the watch from 1/4 to 1/8th mile away from the intersection.)

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    I’m flabbergasted that the Nissan Rogue isn’t on here. Those are horrifically driven on a pretty consistent basis around me, in all weather conditions.

    BMWs and Audis are often driven very aggressively so not surprised to see a few of them on here. Their owners are usually wealthy and important people so their annoyance of having to be in traffic is understandable. I’m surprised not to see the aforementioned Rogue, the Maxima, and the Altima on the list. Maybe that’s just an urban thing.

    • 0 avatar
      theflyersfan

      Louisville (as you probably know) had a pretty rough year with a lot of protests and demonstrations. The official destroyed vehicle on the side of an interstate or highway was a crashed or gutted Altima either burned or covered in spray paint.

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      Yes, where I live, German AWD sedans tend to over-drive the road conditions, especially at night and in poor visibility (white-outs). Lots of SUVs used to, but that seems to have toned down. Shout out to Audi coupe drivers who are disarmingly polite.
      Going back in time, I remember some RWD vehicles that would misbehave thru no fault of the owner, black ice was the arch enemy of Astro/Safari vans, and before that AMC Gremlins. Terrifying for the unprepared.
      ≡8^O

      • 0 avatar
        SilverCoupe

        Thank you, I guess? As an A5 driver, I think I take extra care, as I do not want to be that stupid driver who overdrives and gets into trouble in bad weather.
        I will admit to relying on all-season tires instead of snow tires, as there is little need for me to take my car out in snow. We certainly had snow in Philadelphia this year, I just avoided going out in it until the roads were cleared.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    Wait, no 2nd gen Altima or Kia (any model)? No 30 year old Silverado or F series?
    So this data is from tickets for speeding but not sliding off the road, so technically these aren’t bad drivers. In fact, they could be considered good drivers for keeping the rubber on the road

  • avatar
    IH_Fever

    Around me it’s usually the luxury brands, the bro dozers, or the 5 different color 90s civic with paper tags that you see fly by in a rainstorm.

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    The second the white stuff flies and starts sticking, I nominate Jeep Grand Cherokee drivers. I don’t think they got the memo about how AWD/4WD can help get you moving, it doesn’t do a thing to help you stop or not skid out. I noticed the trend decades ago when one sliding sideways on I-66 in Fairfax County almost t-boned me, and it continues to this day when on I-71 and I-64 seemed to be littered with them after Louisville had some minor snowfalls this winter.
    There was always a destroyed or wrecked Altima nearby as well.

    And as a side note, while the Feds want to mandate everything in a car, can they PLEASE mandate mandatory automatic headlights in cars? With glowing gauges, lit dashboards, and DRLs as bright as headlamps now, the ability to turn on the exterior lights seems to be lost on a lot of people… Maybe some of these bad weather wrecks would be avoided.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      +1 for autoheadlights, please.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      In my part of the world, the most common vehicle involved in a single vehicle crash and/or roll over are SUV’S. When I worked as a Paramedic I noticed that trend as well.

      Too many times I’ve had conversations with people who do not understand that 4 wheel/AWD improves acceleration but has zero affect on braking.
      4×4/AWD means they are driving much faster than they should be for poor road conditions due to better grip under power. Traction control nannies also give drivers a false sense of security.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      theflyersfan,

      When SUVs just started to take over the market or even before that, circa 2000 I got caught in the middle of Connecticut snowstorm in my 98 Protege. I kept going 45, or whatever traffic would allow in the snow. Every once in the while, we would see some SUV sitting in the snowbank off road. Looks like SUV drivers really overestimated their ability to stop or control their vehicle. It was really funny to see only SUVs getting it trouble.

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        @slavuta,

        In the early 90’s following the first snowfall of the season I needed to drive from the east side of Detroit to the airport (first model year of Ford Explorer was 1991). The median of I-94 west of Dearborn (Ford country) was littered with spun-out 4WD Explorers and similar vehicles. No sedans. [All vehicles have 4-wheel braking.] Confident enough to get out and get moving, but not careful enough to avoid getting stuck.

        • 0 avatar
          Carlson Fan

          “The median of I-94 west of Dearborn (Ford country) was littered with spun-out 4WD Explorers and similar vehicles. No sedans.”

          Yep & I bet most spun out because the owners were too stupid to put them into 4WD.

          I worked part time for 10 years driving a 1 Ton wrecker. I know what I pulled out of snowy Minnesota ditches. Guess what, it wasn’t 4WD vehicles.

          My current 2007 Chevy ‘Hoe you cannot spin out on snowy roads unless your dumb enough to leave it in 2H vs Auto or take a curve in the road way too fast. My 1st 4WD, a ’93 Toy compact xtra cab PU stopped way better on snowy roads in 4H than it did in 2H. The driveline drag simply allowed it to make better use of the available traction at all 4 wheels.

  • avatar
    spamvw

    Think about it BMW/MERC/AUDI, nice wide tires, hydroplaning or getting sucked into the median by snow slop. My 8000# truck doesn’t have that issue with tall tires, but is tough to stop.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Plus drivers who spent a lot on their rigs so they expect them to be invulnerable. When I read the question the first thing that popped into my head was “BMW”.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      +1 for recognizing wide tires’ sensitivity to snow slop and hydro/slush-planing.

      The sportier setup, including bigger rotors mandating larger wheels effectively enforcing wider rubber, may well be part of the reason for the poor performance of coupes. In Europe, where most Audis and Bimmers are sold with smaller engines, and smaller wheels with narrower tires, I don’t think at least Audi is known for being badly drive on snowy roads. OTOH, a friend who got to drive a GR Yaris over there, said it gets really surprisingly, light in the rear, when changing lanes at speed with some slush buildup between lanes.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    My personal thinking is that drivers place too much faith in the electronic nannies.

    Those do help most times, don’t get me wrong. But once they reach their maximum capabilities, all hell breaks loose.

    And newer vehicles tend to build a cocoon around you, to insulate you from road conditions. One becomes painfully oblivious to hazardous conditions.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @schmitt trigger – 100% agree. Nannies work at slower speeds or less severe conditions. People are lulled into driving beyond capabilities. 4×4/AWD amplifies that problem.

  • avatar

    Luxury car owners tend to be a bit on the over confident side, which I’m sure results in alot of the issues. I have been passed by numerous large luxury sedans in snow storms over the years. I recall driving 30 MPH in 2-3 inches of snow one day and being passed by a Jag XJ and S class and a A4 all in 5 minutes (around the time of day when the financial companies close). Thou I will admit in our last major snow storm the vast majority of cars I saw stuck were 10-15 year FWD sedans (Altima was well represented)

    • 0 avatar
      theflyersfan

      I wonder how much of that comes from ignorance about summer tires or unwillingness to spend the money for proper winter tires. The buyer wants the premium or sport packages with the nice wheels, and summer tires are thrown on. Case in point, when we had our largest snowfall in years a couple of months ago (about 5 inches), I had a loaner VW Arteon with 4Motion. Beautiful car, and when I checked the window sticker in the glovebox, noticed it had summer tires installed. Oh joy. Well, my office was open and I had to get to work. 4Motion didn’t mean squat with no traction!!! I made it in, but it was white knuckled on the hills near home. If it was my daily driver, and I just plunked down $50,000 for a re-badged A5 liftback, I’m sure there was an extra $1,500-2,000 to spend on some proper tires. The performance CUVs that come with summer rubber fall into the same category.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    When snow hits, Subaru drivers are the worst. They are the slowest moving vehicles.

    For the most unsafe in the bad weather… what is more unsafe in the heavy rain, a speeding Wrangler or Normally driven Mustang?

    I have to agree – some people in those high end performance models are senseless in any weather. I lease a Bimmer, let me kill it.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Safest

    Nissan Leaf – hypermiling, range watching
    Dodge Grand Caravan – easy, relaxed, unpretentious person, careless about image
    Volvo XC90 – Some old person with fond memories of that 240DL Wagon

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      In the cold, anyone in a sub-Tesla-size BEV, will be crawling around like a grandma on sedatives, in a desperate attempt at making it to the mailbox and back before running out of juice.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    The study is based on “tickets” alone. I think we all know the answer to this question is pickup trucks if we are selecting the “worst” drivers in inclement weather. Because physics don’t apply to pickups, everyone knows that. Or maybe physics is just a concept lost on pickup drivers, I could go either way.

    In any event, selecting tickets as the basis for the worst drivers doesn’t give an accurate picture what it happening on the roads. I have never heard of this company so it makes me wonder if it does more business in certain markets like west coast where pickups are not as prevalent.

  • avatar
    Garrett

    The wrong metric is being used.

    Accident rate, as well as severity are far more useful measures. Also the analysis really should be regional, because dangerous conditions vary among locations.

    Frankly, someone in a capable vehicle, with appropriate tires, can be safer above the speed limit than someone in an 18 year Altima with bald tires traveling at the limit.

  • avatar
    Fred

    My Mustang SVO with those Gatorback summer tires couldn’t get traction in any kind of moisture. My little Sprite with quick steering was a bit dicey too. Especially since the top leaked and I fighting with that instead of paying attention to driving.

    On the other hand I was impressed with my Audi A3 FWD, seemed to pull thru puddles without issue.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      I second the awful winter performance of Mustangs equipped with Gatorbacks. My ’85 GT was a nightmare in winter.

      Now I can afford snow tires and life in winter is a bit easier.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      I had a 5.0L Mercury Capri back in the day with the Gatorbacks. My wife drove it to work one fine November day when a rogue snowstorm blew in from Lake Erie. It only resulted in three inches of snow (at best) but when she went out to drive home the slushy snow immobilized the car.

      All that power, but nowhere to go…

  • avatar
    dal20402

    In bad weather around here, the usual suspects are roid bros in lifted trucks and oblivious parents (of both genders) in SUVs, especially Subaru Ascents, who assume that because they Have All-Wheel-Drive they can drive the same way in the snow that they do when it’s dry and 70 degrees.

  • avatar
    Cicero

    I got nothing.

  • avatar
    Dan

    We don’t get a foot of snow a year here, which is already a foot too much so keep the global soda bubbles coming. The bad drivers in the rain are the bad drivers in everything else. We all know what they stereotypically drive so there’s no point restating the obvious here.

    But two that haven’t met the stereotype lately.

    Teslas. Far and away the fastest things on four wheels but 98% of the time are being driven absolutely invisibly.

    Subarus. They aren’t always going 10 under anymore. I was even tailgated by one last week. Never thought the day would come.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    They have drawn the wrong conclusions given the data presented.

    Most “too fast for conditions” tickets are issued as a revenue enhancing add-on to an accident. Sure there are the people who get popped w/o an accident but my bet is that is a small percentage of the cases.

    So what this proves is that drivers of those vehicles are more likely to talk themselves into such a ticket, or are seen as an easy target for boosting revenue. Meanwhile that poor woman in the Caravan with kids in back gets to walk away w/o a ticket because she wasn’t a self-important jerk to the officer responding to the scene, or the officer figures they really can’t afford any additional financial hardship.

    I think DAL has it right on the cause for the Yaris anomaly, delivery drivers as it is a popular car for delivering Pizza, Auto parts, medical samples and documents.

  • avatar
    jmo

    Am I misreading this or is this a list of vehicles that get ticketed for speeding in bad weather not the list of vehicles most likely to crash? If that’s the case the most useful data would be the vehicles most likely to have an insurance claim in bad weather.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      That’s the thing it doesn’t seem to break down the number of cases where a “unsafe safe speed for conditions” ticket was issued by itself or as part of an accident response. My guess is that most are issued as the result of an accident.

      Note it doesn’t always have to be weather related for the officer to pull out the “unsafe speed” ticket especially in conjunction with an accident.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        It doesn’t have to be an accident per se. While it’s not illegal to drive a Corvette when it’s snowing, parked it in the ditch and what can you argue?

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Once they panic, overbrake and oversteer, it doesn’t matter what they’re driving.

  • avatar
    sentience

    Surprised you guys have an article on this pointless self-promotional clickbait study. This is just garbage data for the sake of generating traffic.

    1. It doesn’t define what “too fast for conditions” are. Since that citation is inherently subjective, you are dealing with noise in who/how/where this gets enforced, and the kinds of cars these people drive.

    2. It doesn’t show the number of cars registered. A citation rate against total is meaningless – high numbers could simply be reflective of the volume of cars; a citation rate (e.g. 15 citations per 100 of that specific model registered) would allow you compare those cars accurately.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      “Too Fast For Conditions” is the politically correct way of saying “You’re An Idiot, Please Stay Home Next Time, Do Us All An F’ing Favor For The Love Of God, But Here’s A Nice Fine And Points On Your Record To Help You Make The Right Call In The Future, I Don’t Have Time To Explain What You Did Wrong, You Figure It Out, I Gotta Go, Good Luck To You A$$ Hole.”

  • avatar
    brn

    Anything wearing Michelin Pilot HX MXM4’s.

  • avatar
    Mike-NB2

    If the question was cars that are driven badly at any time and under any conditions then my observations would be the Corolla, the Camry, the RAV and the CR-V. In my experience, these vehicles are so poorly driven and so consistent in this that I have changed my defensive driving habits to assume at all times that when I am near one of these vehicles that I treat them with the expectation that they WILL do something stupid. I am often rewarded in seeing my expectations met.

    More on point, I wonder if the fact that the top three vehicles on the list are expensive has any bearing. I ask this because I live in Atlantic Canada where winter is a reality and there seems to be a correlation between the cost of the vehicle and the use of winter tires. Winter tires are used much less, it seems, as the price of the vehicle rises. I wonder if this is because many people who own (or likely lease) these vehicles are already tapped out for money and that winter 20+ inch winter tires are seriously expensive.

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