27 May 2005

Driven to Drink

So GMAC Insurance did a survey of the nation's drivers and discovered that many of them wouldn't pass the written driving test if they had to take it. The written test of course is the one that asks you if you know the rules of the goddamn road that you want to drive on. Turns out Virginia drivers score above the national average, while Maryland and DC drivers are both below the national average.

National Average: 82.7%
Virginia: 84.7%
Maryland and DC: 79.8%

The worst state was Rhode Island, at 77%.

One of the most frightening findings was that "one out of five drivers doesn't know that a pedestrian in a crosswalk has the right of way" [cnn]. This fact explains the need for (or wishful thinking of) the orange flags on Connecticut Avenue and the beaten-down signs that used to sit on the dividing line of busy intersections. But it doesn't explain this.

I'm all for making people retake the test as part of the license renewal process, but I'm not sure that would really help. After all, Virginia scores pretty highly, but as any District resident can attest, those morons aren't exactly good drivers. I've always believed Maryland drivers were the worst in the nation, but now it seems I'm wrong: they're just tied with DC motorists at 44th place. I think I can account for the tie by arguing that many licensed DC residents don't drive, or haven't driven in years, and therefore the numbers skew DC lower, whereas it seems every prick living in Maryland has to drive into DC in their very own car every weekday.

Of course, I have another explanation that can even account for the good scores of Virginia drivers: knowing the rules and giving a shit about them are two separate things. I'm willing to bet that many drivers know they shouldn't run red lights in Dupont Circle while forcing pedestrians to scatter, but damnit it just feels good.

And while I'm getting pissed off about motorists, let's talk about the DC cell phone and driving law. What a joke. If you stood at any intersection in the District you'd probably see about 30% of the drivers holding the wheel with one hand and using their other one to press their mobile into their face. Unless you were near a police station, then the numbers would skew upward, because every single copcar would contain a cop with a mobile phone in his/her hand.

OK. I gotta calm down, or I'm going to end up like this guy.

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