National Study: Where Do RI Drivers Rank?
Saturday, October 02, 2010
A state-by-state ranking of the deadliest drivers compiled by the national Daily Beast Web site puts Rhode Island at number 48, with 76 fatal crashes among a population of 748,351 license holders in 2009. The least dangerous states were Virginia (49th) and Connecticut (50th). But the biggest surprises may be the top three states with the deadliest drivers: North Dakota, Montana, and Kentucky.
Some Rhode Islanders Think They're the Worst
But several Rhode Islanders said they don't think state doesn't deserve the compliment. “Really? I don’t think so,” said Miki Tanabe, of Cumberland, when told of the results. She told GoLocalProv she believed Rhode Island drivers were “horrible… the worst.”
Another driver said he’d put Rhode Island at the other end of the scale. “On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d say a 7, 10 being the worst,” said the man, who would only give his first name, Joe.
One motorist advocate went one step further—saying Rhode Island drivers weren’t above or below average. “Having driven from sea to shining sea, let me tell you that Rhode Islander drivers are not worse or that much better,” said Tom Frank, the state coordinator for the National Motorists Association.
Overall, Frank said no one state or region has worse or better drivers than the rest of the country. However, he added, states and regions certainly have their own quirks. Rhode Islanders, for example, have trouble remembering to use their turn signals. In Washington state, drivers have a habit of not yielding to emergency vehicles, he said.
Compared to Europe or Mexico, however, drivers here are "relatively courteous," said Nick Makris, who lives in Rhode Island. Even so, he thought ranking state drivers as the third safest ones seemed high.
Using recently released data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Daily Beast compared states in terms of the ratio of fatal accidents to the number of drivers—premised on the assumption that fatalities are a reliable measure of how many bad drivers you have. The site focused on accidents where DUIs, ignoring stop signs, and careless or inattentive driving were a factor. It also accounted for the fact that in some states, drivers may spend more time in their cars or have longer commutes.
But Frank still questioned the conclusions, saying there was zero correlation between traffic fatalities and the quality of drivers in a state. Instead, he said the issue was proximity to hospitals—which is why large rural states like Montana are at the top of the list. He said getting to a hospital under an hour usually makes the difference between whether someone injured in a crash lives or dies. "In Montana, it's tough to get to a hospital in an hour," Frank said. "In Rhode Island, if you can't get to a hospital in an hour, something's wrong."
The quality of hospitals also makes a difference, Frank added. "You get really quality hospitals in Rhode Island or California—not so much in other parts of the country. It has nothing to do with the quality of the driver," Frank said.
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