On the expressway to another bad ranking
I was reading the news on I-26 Tuesday and saw that some website claimed South Carolina has the second-worst drivers in the nation.
We are nothing if not responsible motorists here - I even pulled into the slow lane before tweeting about this slanderous propaganda.
Judging bad driving is highly subjective, probably because all the judges are as guilty as the offenders. And who even notices bad driving anymore, seeing as how everyone is usually looking down at their phones and texting while on the road?
But the folks at carinsurancecomparison.com, trying to be all scientific, used five criteria to rank us: fatalities rate per 100 million miles traveled, drunken driving statistics, number of tickets for careless driving, failure to obey, and speeding.
By that measure, it seems like the deck is stacked against us. Vermont (No. 51) is only about 4 miles wide. How many roads can they have?
Here's a better question: How can South Carolina be No. 2 in the nation for bad driving when half the folks on the roads here are from Ohio (No. 20) and West Virginia (No. 34)?
We may be getting a bum steer.
Right turn, Clyde
There probably isn't a city in this country that doesn't claim it has the worst drivers ever.
This list, however, is heavily tilted toward Southern states. Louisiana (No. 1) is a perennial top-five finisher, which means airboats must count toward the stats. And Texas (No. 4) had to improve to fall that far down the list. Somehow Mississippi (No. 3) finished below us (upset alert) and Alabama (No. 5) rounds out the worst offender list.
You've got to give Alabama folks a pass, though. They have all been driving around with tears in their eyes. Well, Nick Saban has been, anyway.
Florida (No. 6) lucked out this year because "driving with turn signal on" wasn't one of the criteria.
As for all those other states that allegedly have better drivers? Well, statistics can be made to say anything. Sure the District of Columbia (No. 44) is safe. How many tickets can you get sitting stalled on the Beltway all day?
And Minnesota (No. 48) gets an unfair advantage because most of the time it's too cold for their cars to start.
Fact is, we are at a decided disadvantage here in South Carolina - and it's the roads' fault. The I-26 death zone, which hurts us considerably, is largely a product of poor road design (and, some people claim, trees in the median).
And who designs our on- and off-ramps? The state, in its finite wisdom, often clumps them together, making for a clumsy merge.
Try to exit westbound I-26 onto Cosgrove Avenue sometime, where the merge lane is about the length of the average overpass. You can't get off the interstate for all the Cosgrove people trying to get on.
And Mount Pleasant probably added to our ranking problem by installing all those traffic circles. Who knows how to get out of one of those confounding Yankee traps?
Besides, of course, all those folks from Ohio.
Nothing to LOL about
Fact is, South Carolina suffers from actually being ahead of the game here.
See, the state is 40th in size, yet is 24th in population and 31st in number of road miles.
There are simply a lot more opportunities for people to get tickets here than in, say, Maine (No. 46).
Maine is close to the same size as South Carolina, but it has a quarter of the people and one-third as many miles of road.
The deck is stacked.
Of course, we may have to accept some of the blame here.
Maybe we need to quit texting while driving, as some Lowcountry cities now insist.
And truth is, only West Virginia and Montana (No. 9) have more fatalities per 100 million miles traveled. And Montana and North Dakota (No. 10) are the only states with more drunk driving arrests.
Maybe all those folks are distraught because, once again, South Carolina is No. 2 on the bad lists and No. 49 on the good ones.
Maybe we should get it engraved on our license plates : "Not quite the worst!"
Reach Brian Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org