Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Insurance Group Claims Vermont Has Nation's Safest Drivers. Boy Are They Wrong!

I choked on my Diet Coke and almost went off the road while driving and was tempted to grab my iPhone to send a text when I heard this news bulletin come over the radio: Vermont supposedly has the nation's safest drivers, according to 
A bad car crash in Quechee, Vermont last summer
From the Valley News of White River Jct, Vt.  

The insurance group based its ranking on such things as traffic fatality rates, incidence of drunken driving, seat belt use, and the relative amount of tickets issued for violations like running stop signs.

Supposedly, when crunched the numbers, Louisiana turned out to have the least safe drivers, and Vermont the safest.

As a lifelong Vermonter who drives a great deal, I have to tell you the ranking is BOGUS. Vermont might have the nation's most creative drivers, the most free spirited drivers, and certainly not the fastest drivers. But safest? HA!

Vermont is the state where a mentally ill man took a tractor and drove over and destroyed a bunch of sheriff department cruisers.

I live in a Vermont town in which, two years ago, a manure truck with failed brakes roared down the hill past my house, through a series of traffic lights while miraculously not hitting anyone and then smashing through a building in downtown St. Albans.

Just yesterday, news broke of a drunken moron doing "doughnuts" in a snowy parking lot--while a Vermont State Police trooper watched. The trooper arrested said drunken moron.

Vermont is a state where people halt at stop signs and wait for them to turn green. When a traffic light turns green, they sit and wait, hoping for a prettier shade of green.

Here, Vermonters cruise along in the passing lane well below the speed limit, backing up traffic and apparently hoping police officers hand out lollipops to the drivers for going so slowly.
A 2011 crash on Interstate 89 near Richmond, Vermont
in 2011. You'd think we could drive in the snow.
From the Burlington (Vt.) Free Press.  

Vermont is the land of Subarus. Really, really, really slow Subarus. For some reason, just about everyone who drives a Subaru goes way below the speed limit, but also drifts in and out of their lane while they gawk at the scenery.

Or you see the Subaru drivers hunched forward, holding on to the steering wheel with knuckles snow white, panicking at the fear of a crash because it is starting to sprinkle and the road might freeze. (Never mind that the temperature is 70 degrees at the time.)

These slow drivers are especially dangerous because young men in big pickup trucks or roaring motorcycles are simultaneously trying to go really, really, really fast. They pass the slowpokes on blind curves, in busy downtowns during what passes in Vermont for rush hour.

The hot rod young men, can of Budweiser ready in the drink holder, especially like to drive super fast during very bad ice storms.

Let me tell you, when I get into the mix of the slugging people in thier crawling Subarus and the tipsy Mario Andrettis driving in their loud pickup trucks, my own knuckles get really white on the steering wheel.

Don't even talk to me about Vermont motorists' ability to drive during snowstorms. You'd think people would be used to driving in snow by now, since the state annually has 11 months of winter and one month of poor sledding.

Actually, it seems that 90 percent of Vermont drivers do fine in the snow. It's the other 10 percent that screw things up for everybody else. Again, it's that ugly mix of speed demons and panic people.

The fast ones don't understand the concept that ice is slippery. They also don't understand that when you hit the brakes hard on ice, it almost always ends badly.

I know this is basic physics, but physics isn't really Vermonters' strong suit.

So, when the inevitable skid happens when people slam on the brakes of their high and tippy SUVs, they roll over and hit the people driving 5 mph because that's as fast as they want to go.

Vermont is pretty rural, and there are only so many roads and so many detours. When someone causes a crash on the road during a snowstorm and blocks it, you can count on sitting in your car for three hours waiting behind the wreck instead of getting to work on time for a change.

The bottom line: I can't speak for the skill, or lack thereof, of drivers in Lousiana. But if you want to come to Vermont to feel safe on the roads, don't bother.

It's scary out there on Vermont's highways.

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