Safest Drivers

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As I was pulling out of my driveway this morning, the news on my car radio reported that according to a survey, the Midwest drivers are the safest drivers in the United States. That was reassuring to know that my every day drive is relatively free of danger and I am with the company of best drivers.

I also read before that in a study by one insurance company, Des Moines was one of the cities with the safest drivers. Interestingly, New Jersey, a place where we lived before, had the worst drivers according to one poll a couple of years ago.

I do not think New Jersey was that terrible, at least when we were there. I thought New Yorkers were worse drivers, based upon my experience when we lived there. They honk their horn for no good reason, they cut you off, and they are not courteous at all (unless you consider the “finger” salute as a sign of respect!).

The New York taxi drivers are of a different breed. I know there are some exceptions, but overall they are pretty bad. There was one instance when I rode a taxi cab from the  JFK airport to our apartment in Manhattan, that I had more heart-stopping excitement riding in that cab than when I rode a roller coaster with triple loops at Universal. It was that horrible.

We also lived in Los Angeles briefly, and drove in its roads for a time. The freeway traffic ranges from fast and furious to snail-pace stop and go depending on the time of day. I think its not so bad, if you can dodge the bullets from the deranged drive-by shooters.

Then when we lived in Florida, I also experienced driving in retirement communities. It can be frustrating when you get stucked behind a very slow moving car, only to find the driver to be a frail old lady that you think can barely see, let alone drive. At least she was not texting and had her two hands tightly gripping the steering wheel.

But nothing compare to Manila drivers. Traffic rules? What traffic rules? Traffic lights and stop signs are optional, and it’s to the discretion of the driver to follow it or not. Or it depends if there’s a policeman hiding behind the light post accross the intersection. The bus drivers, jeepney drivers and taxi drivers are better than the priests in making people embrace religion. For they make their passengers piously pray when they are driving!

So back to my current residence here in Iowa. I was driving along the interstate today, when I saw a woman driving with one hand holding a phone to her ear, and then puffing a cigarrette with the other hand, leaving both hands off the wheel for a couple of seconds. Or maybe she have a third hand?


(image from here)

But I have seen other dangerous driving behavior here in the supposed to be “safe drivers” zone: people texting, applying make-up while driving at full speed, eating with one hand on the burger and the other hand with the drink, and reading a book, with a book resting on the steering wheel.

As I continued my drive, a minivan overtook me at speed way above the speed limit. The van had a dead deer strapped in its roof, with its fur and tail flapping in the wind. It is common to see extra luggages, or bikes, or canoe, or Chirstmas tree (on holidays) strapped on the roof, but a dead deer? And even though Iowa is big on hunting, that was the first time I saw a deer strapped on the roof, except in movies. I also noticed that the van had one window broken, and was stacked-up to the ceiling full of junk. I don’t think the driver can see through his rearview mirror with all those junk.

As I was exiting the freeway, a big black SUV with dark tinted windows swerved in front of me without signalling and cut me off, making me hit the brakes. I was tempted to honk my horn and give him the finger salute, but it could be the secret service. And besides, these are the safest drivers after all. Frightening thought.

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