Welcome to Big Old Goofy World . . . a place where I can share my thoughts, hopes, and dreams about this rock that we live on and call home.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Hang On, Jesus! Montana Driving

Montana moved down in the rankings . . . from number eight in 2011 to number nine in 2012.  This is one of the few times that moving down in the rankings is actually good . . . from the eighth to ninth is actually a statement to the improvement in Montanans ability to drive.  In other words, our driving is improving!  Despite the second year in a row of making the top ten list of the ten states with the worst drivers . . . we are improving.  At least that is according to the website, CarInsuranceComparison.com that does an annual comparison of all fifty states and the District of Columbia to find out which states have the worse and best drivers. 

Despite the improvement, this survey probably confirms what lots of people already suspected . . . Montanans are not the best drivers in the world . . . shoot, in this survey there were 42 states that were better! CarInsuranceComparison.com based their survey on five categories: fatalities rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled; failure to obey (traffic signals and seat belts); drunk driving; tickets; and, careless driving.  Each category was given a score with the cumulative score being the final determinant in the ranking.  The higher the score, the worse off the states were.  Louisiana had the number one ranking for the worst drivers with a score of 220 points; Montana, at number nine, had a score of 174.  The state with the best drivers happened to be Vermont . . . wherever that might be . . . with a score of 48.  From the lofty heights of Montana’s score that is a long, long way down there!  Confirming what I always thought, the survey determined that the most unsafe states to drive in are the deep southern states where seven were in the top ten . . . Louisiana (1), South Carolina (2), Mississippi (3), Texas (4), Alabama (5), Florida (6),  and North Carolina (8). 

Out of the five categories, Montana led the nation as the worse in two: fatalities and drunk driving.  In both we were the worse . . . and, I do not think that there can be much argument against the facts.  I cannot think of a day in which I read the newspaper that there has not been a vehicular death in Montana . . . not a single day, and usually more than one or two each day.  The landscape of our state and its highways are marred . . . I mean, marked . . . by white crosses marking the locations of those individuals who have died in car accidents.  A lot of those accidents are related to drunk driving . . . Montanans like their alcohol and it seems a lot of them like it while their driving.  Again, reading the daily paper is like reading a “who is who” in DUIs . . . a day does not go by when there are not at least five to ten DUI convictions announced in the newspaper . . . usually the offenders are multiple offenders, often double digit.  In those two categories we kicked the nation’s butt . . . but, it is not something to be proud of.

In “failure to obey” and “careless driving” we ranked in the higher end of the middle of the pack . . . about average.  Driving in the nearby big city is always an adventure . . . traffic lights are a courtesy, stop signs are suggestions, and speed limits . . . well, this is Montana and it will be several generations before we get beyond the tradition of driving at a safe and reasonable speed.  But, hey, driving in Montana is great cardiovascular exercise . . . a little hair-raising, but good for the heart.

According to the survey, Montana almost topped a category in the opposite direction . . . we ranked as number two in tickets.  Only one state, Wyoming, gave out fewer tickets than Montana to motorist.  The bottom line is that most Montanans drive without the feat of ever getting a ticket.  Law enforcement just doesn’t do it . . . write tickets that is.  The writers of the survey suggested that if law enforcement would actually do their job and write a few more tickets, the state would probably improve in the “failure to obey” and “careless driving” categories to knock itself out of the top ten of worse drivers.  But, that would increase insurance rates, and Montanans wouldn’t like that.

Now, I am a logical sort of a person . . . like most Montanans are . . . and, I think that the numbers are skewed.  We, Montanans, are not the only ones who drive in Big Sky Country . . . no, we have millions of tourists every year driving around our state . . . and, a lot of them are from the deep south.  Yeah, yeah, I know, the majority of the fatalities and drunk drivers I read about in the newspaper are from Montana; but . . . all those tourists don’t help out our driving.  Have you ever been around a Texas driver?  Scary!  Also . . . at least where I live . . . we have a lot of Wyoming drivers . . . lots.  They skew our numbers, too!  What, they were ranked 27th . . . 18 places higher than us?  Facts aren’t always right . . . I know, I put up with Wyoming drivers every day I commute to the big city to work.  They drive the speed limit, they don’t pass on double yellow lines, they stop at stop signs and traffic lights, and they even have the gall to smile and wave when they see you.  That is enough to make any driver become careless to the point of taking risks . . . and, heaven forbid . . . drink!  Sure, driving in Montana is an adventure, but that is part of the reason a lot of us moved here to make Montana our homes . . . we like adventure!

Whatever the case, we are improving.  Ever so slowly we are improving in our driving.  We are climbing out of the pit of being in the top ten states with the worse drivers.  We only have to beat out North Dakota (10) and Oklahoma (11) to lose the distinction of being one of the worse.  It might take a little work, but I am certain we can do it . . . even if we have to close down some of our tourist spots, we can do it.  In the meantime, Jesus hangs on . . . as do most of us here in Montana . . . because driving is an adventure!

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