Wanted: Even More Crazy Drivers

Tuesday - 9/6/2011, 2:01am EDT

If you commute to work by car today — as passenger, driver or slug — and make it to the office you may need to find a quiet spot. Someplace where you can dry your perspiration-soaked clothes and reflect on your good luck in making it in.

For the third year in a row, Allstate insurance said DC drivers are the worst. This news was greeted with joy in Baltimore, which delights when its neighbor at the other end of I-95 gets gigged. Our habit of tailgating, texting while driving and road rage saved Baltimore from being ranked last in safety/good driving. Instead, thanks to us, it was rated next-to-last.

So why are we worse, even than LA, and Newark. ?

The actuaries and traffic engineers have their theories, but those of us who were born here, or who have lived here a long, long time know the real reason.

In the first place lots of people who live here came from somewhere else. Some very recently. And, though they've put down 30 year-old roots, many still long for a good pizza which can only be found in their beloved New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia or Ozone Park, N.J. In their minds they are still living the teenage dream. And driving like it.

Then there is the diplomatic corps. Bless them. Most are great. They realize they are guests in our country and representing their own. With the diplomatic tags they are easy spot. They are also easy when they forget where they are at and come at you on the wrong (for us) side of the road. It just takes one or two to make things exciting.

Thirdly, our traffic circles. They are often beautiful and might still come in handy if grapeshot cannons are needed to put down a revolution. But they are a nightmare for locals (who think they know how to get around them) and even more so visitors, tourists and our large number of foreigners who don't come from Paris.

Also, our traffic patterns here are sort of out of whack. This is not a factory town. This should be a 9 to 5, or 10 to 6 operation. And yet, because of the heavy federal-military presence, lots of people go to work earlier Either because they have to, need to or want to. Or, worse, don't want to but do.

The D.C. area probably has more people texting while driving (or at a traffic light) than any place of any comparable size. Friday morning I saw a guy texting WHILE ON HIS BICYCLE while going downhill on Massachusetts avenue near American University. I hope he doesn't work for Homeland Security, which is nearby. More likely he's with one of the TV stations, which are also close.

Finally, there is Congress. Think of it: 535 men and women who spent millions of dollars getting elected to serve in a place which they say they hate. So they can keep getting reelected and stay here. These are not normal people. And they all come from somewhere else. Places with real buffalo, or great buffalo wings or the best pizza.

And Congress has a huge support staff of mostly (because of the hours and workload) young people. Also from back home.

Put it all together and we don't have a chance of ever unseating Baltimore as the Second Worst Drivers in the nation. It's not fair. It's not right.


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

By Jack Moore
Federal News Radio

Joseph Merlin, a London inventor is credited with creating one of the earliest pairs of roller skates — in the 1760s. He wanted to make a grand entrance at a masquerade ball, the story goes, so he entered the party on his metal-wheeled boots playing the violin. Unfortunately, he didn't know how to stop, crashed into the wall and broke his violin.


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