Baby, you can’t drive your car

I took a train to Rhode Island this weekend (but they made me put it back – bada-BING!) While there, no fewer than two locals told me, in the space of a number of hours, that Rhode Islanders ranked dead last among the states in terms of drivers’ knowledge of traffic laws. Given that Rhode Islanders’ driving in general may be charitably described as “freeform”, that seemed likely. I got home and looked it up online, and, sure enough, the intarnets delivered…but of course, there were apparently madmen who had influence on the test results. Not that Maryland ranked 44th, in a tie with the District; I get along fine in traffic around here, but have also driven here in rain and especially snow, and the ability of my fellow Murlinders to figure out what in the name of Jee-zuss they are doing with their vehicles under those circumstances leads me to believe that the average performance might have been brought down by those days, or by the Beltway (either) in general. No, the truly mad part was that the Philistine, unibrowed, sloped-forehead “drivers” of Virginia ranked 15th. Did they test this ability from orbit? The entire state is composed of people who think they are too good to drive but aren’t, or people who are actually too bad to drive and do. I fully expect to see crates of ripped-open Cracker Jack boxes by the sides of the unmarked and no-U-turns-allowed roads in Virginia as evidence of where the latest crop of unguided missiles called Virginia drivers received their licenses.

And yes, by Ghod, I’ve driven in Massachusetts before, and the drivers in Virginia are worse – much worse. Massholes, while, how you say, challenging on the road, are poor in an entirely predictable way. If you see one coming, say, far too fast in the lane you’re about to merge into, then stop – and he will, predictably, take your right-of-way like it was a brass ring. The thing is, you know what to do when faced with the situation. No collision, no problem.

Virginia? Who knows? They may slow down by thirty miles an hour and cut across two lanes of traffic without a signal. They might veer into the shoulder directly at you. They might even slam on the brakes and come to a dead stop in the middle of the fscking highway. I’ve seen Virginians do all of these things while I swerved to avoid these misbegotten creeps. No one has any idea, least of all the Virginian himself*, what a Virginian is about to do on the highway – signals received from space on the plates in their heads control all. Your only real recourse is to walk to a Metro stop, if you happen to be in northern Virginia, or, elsewhere in the state, carry a gun, like everyone else. (And if it happens to go off, hey, don’t worry. This state is run from Richmond.)

So rest easy, my Rhode Islander friends. You’re off the hook. (But…when pulling out of a parallel parking space along a street? Y’might want to see if there’s any traffic actually coming first. Just a suggestion.)

* If you should encounter a woman Virginia driver…well, I’ll send flowers.

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3 Responses

  1. The rankings explicitly say they are written tests on the laws.
    No reason at all to expect that to translate into actual driving ability.

  2. I’d love to see a similar test for Canadian drivers. Everyone knows that Quebec (Montreal in particular) has the worst drivers (even those in La Belle Province knows that, and wear it like a mark of honour) – I even know that and I haven’t been to Montreal in 30 years! But, having been to most provinces, I know what most province’s handicap is. Alberta, it’s driving too fast (I once was driving 130 there, 20 above the posted speed limit, and I got passed, extremely rapidly, by a bat of out hell with an Alberta plate). Saskatchewan it’s driving too slow (but then, they’re used to driving John Deeres that take up both lanes of the road, so … ) Manitoba, it’s several, but I”d say our top two are: #2: using your four-ways as “I’ll only be parked here a minute” (if I had a nickel for every car I saw do that in a 30 day period, I”d be richer than Warren Buffet! And, interestingly, I’ve never seen one ticketed!) and #1: Going through the amber light. (In Winnipeg, green means go, yellow means go faster, and red means, “ok, you and the French guy behind you!”)

  3. Yea, thats part of what makes things dangerous here in the mid atlantic. The further north you go the more yellow means go faster, until you reach the point that when your light turns green you wait for all the “dead ahead on red” guys to get through the intersection. Headed southward, the traffic light facing you is the dragstrip go light. When it hits green, that means go, go now! (if you are not the first car it means hit the horn, then go). By the time you hit the carolinas, if you don’t slam on the brakes when it turns yellow, you’ll be pranged by a dragster-wannabe screaming rubber the instant he saw your yellow light.

    Which means around here you get both kinds; the push the yellow past the red, and the rabbit out at the first hint of green. A nasty combination. Though recent years we’ve been seeing more of the northern influence. I’m wondering if the red light cameras will flip that over?

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