Did you all catch that news item earlier this week about Louisiana being rated as having the fifth worst drivers in the nation. We’re not really surprised, are we?
The ranking was based on several factors, including fatal accident rates, drunk driving, speeding, distracted driving, not wearing seatbelts and other violations.
We actually rated first (or worst) in one category — running stop signs. And again, I don’t think that’s any surprise. Many Louisiana drivers think stop signs mean slow down a little to see if anything’s coming.
Our fatal accident rate is 1.47 deaths for every 100 million vehicle-miles driven. That may not seem too bad, but that of Massachusetts is .55, almost three times better.
We rank seventh worst in careless driving, called reckless driving in Louisiana. That may tie in with the distracted driving problem and the great majority of distracted driving offenses are caused by the use of cell phones, particularly texting.
Studies have shown that texting while driving is just as deadly as driving while drunk. It seems every few months or so we’ll read about some young person who was killed by running off the road in a one-car accident. And the great majority of those are likely caused by texting.
Another interesting fact is that the folks most non-compliant with wearing seatbelts are pickup truck drivers. For some reason that doesn’t surprise me either. Now I have nothing at all against pickup truck drivers. Some of my best friends drive trucks. I’m just not surprised that they don’t like seatbelts, for some reason.
All of these driving problems of course cause our car insurance premiums to be among the highest in the country. I’ve met people who moved here from out of state and they’re shocked at our insurance rates. (Of course they love our low property taxes, so I guess it sort of balances out.)
There’s no doubt that it’s dangerous out there on the highways. I try to avoid the interstates whenever I can. If I have time, I take good old La. 1 to Shreveport or Alexandria. Of course, on a two-lane road like La. 1, all it takes is a moment’s distraction for some driver to drift into your lane. So, we’re sort of darned if we do and darned if we don’t, huh?
One thing that bothers me about interstate driving is the following situation. Say I’m approaching an 18-wheeler and I’m doing about three mph faster than him. Way back in my rearview mirror a car is approaching me fast.
So do I go ahead and pass the truck, knowing the car will soon be right on my rear bumper and trying to force me over? Or do I wait for the car to pass and then go around the truck. The first option is scary and the second is frustrating.
Of course, the state of Louisiana roads and highways makes it difficult for even the most cautious of drivers. So, we have that obstacle to overcome, as well.
Anyway, my friends, let’s take care of ourselves and each other. Slow down, put that seat belt on, find a designated driver if you’re sipping booze. And don’t forget to stop for those darned stop signs!