Texans are competitive. We love taking the top spot in lists of best sports teams, economic growth, productivity, and just about any other category. Of course, our competitive spirit doesn’t extend to a list where top billing means that we’re labeled as being the “worst” at anything, but that’s exactly what happened when a recent story about the worst drivers in the country hit the news. A study from Car Insurance Comparison compiled a list of the worst drivers in the nation and put Texas at No. 1 , tying with Louisiana. The company said it factored in numbers from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and found that Texas drivers ranked third for drunk driving, ninth for speeding, and ninth for fatalities.
Other Studies Were Less Harsh on Texas Drivers
Two other studies released around the same time, one from Quotewizard.com and the other from Bankrate.com, painted less bleak pictures of our drivers. The first put Texas drivers at 31st place, while the second listed Texas at 14.
Still, the studies give us plenty of opportunities to examine why we have a reputation for dangerous driving. Vehicle fatalities play a major role, as do drunk driving statistics. This is a good place to note that Texas hasn’t had a deathless day on our roads in over 16 years, so there is some truth in the fact that our roads can be dangerous for motorists.
Some Factors are Beyond Our Control
Some of the factors listed in these studies are beyond our control. For example, the Bankrate.com study factored in commute times, a category in which we ranked poorly. But that is more of an obstacle for our drivers and less of an indicator of our driving skill.
A state’s laws also play a significant role in the safety of its roads. On that front, we have a long way to go. Our speed limits, drunk driving laws and distracted driving laws all have room for improvement. But, again, these are other circumstances that we don’t directly control.
So – Are We Really the Worst?
It’s safe to say that you don’t have to walk around hanging your head in shame when in the presence of drivers from other states. When considering why we rate where we do in these and other studies, it’s important to remember that Texas is the second most populous state in the nation, which means that we often rank highly on many lists, simply because there are so many Texans and so many miles of roads in our state.
Texas drivers are also subject to the laws enacted by our legislators. Our state can and should make more progress when it comes to making our roads safer. We can aid that progress by being vocal about the need for better laws and improved infrastructure to accommodate our growing population.
Last, and perhaps most importantly, we must remember that, just like all other states, we have good drivers and bad. Most of us drive safely and do our best to cooperate with other drivers. But not every Texan is as careful as they should be behind the wheel. While that represents another challenge that we don’t control, we can remember that we do control our own actions and can hold negligent drivers accountable when they drive recklessly on our roads.