Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Miami Tops Drivers' List as Worst in USA

I looked at the list of cities with the worst driving habits and found that I have lived in or driven extensively in the top five WORST-RATED
in the USA. I lived in DC for twenty years, in New York for a year, drove all over LA for a month in a political campaign, drive in Boston every summer.

Silly me, I thought Miami's driving habits were awful because the whole country is becoming more rude and reckless behind the wheel. Boston is very marginally less nasty, but there is an element of unparalleled foolhardiness in Miami drivers, a resolute determination to NEVER use the turn signals, and a use of the motor vehicle as an extension of the drivers' personalities, such as they are. This is most frequently seen in tailgating---the obnoxious habit on I-95 of driving 70 MPH with a car 10 feet behind you driving 71. And never flashing their lights as they do when driving in Europe. Just attempting bumper tag.

And the awful driving habits extend north to Boca and West Palm Beach. Road rage is only exceeded by the fact that perhaps 75% of the female drivers of SUVs are on their cellphones at any given time, and blissfully unaware of road conditions as they do their non-stop conversing. I bicycle a lot around Boca and the advanced age of the drivers here is one of the factors making using the roadways perilous.

Miami does deserve the title of worst, and part of this may derive from the published "fact" that Miami Florida has the highest percentage of foreign-born inhabitants of any city IN THE ENTIRE WORLD. [Wish I had the link to that factoid.]

I have driven extensively throughout Europe and also in the Middle East---primarily in Saudi Arabia. In Europe, I drove all over Spain and Italy and had serious auto accidents in both those countries---one of them my own fault. Although the only accident I had in France was in Paris with an Italian driver from Rome in the other vehicle, I still subscribe to the old adage: "The Italians drive like they're trying to kill themselves, but the French drive like they're trying to kill you."

The worst drivers in the world, as far as I have seen with my own eyes, are in Saudi Arabia. Especially during Ramadhan, when the fasting drives many to ferocious deeds of bad-tempered vehicular homicide. When I drove from London to Beirut back in the '70s, the drivers became more erratic in each country [and public clocks stopped working and stop lights became slowly advisory rather than mandatory] the farther eastward I proceeded. My favorite book Eothen 150 years later.

So the Miami area has a combination of old age, foreign habits, cellphone addiction, high level of drug use, lots of retired East Coast drivers from Boston, New York, DC who transport their habits to their new environment. Plus the ease of getting a carrying permit in Florida makes altercations potentially a Dodge City scenario.

Finally, the street signs in Florida are arbitrarily there or not there, the lanes suddenly disappear on I-95 in a couple of stretches, and road construction takes forever and is ubiquitous. City management in Boca and elsewhere is simply hit or miss on roads and new construction of high rise condos means road squeezes---though the decline of the building boom has eased this particular problem.

My daughter just was accepted at the University of Miami, which means that I am going to have to drive her [she wants it that way] to the campus on a frequent basis along I-95's most dangerous stretch in the USA. Trust me, I have driven I-95 from New York to Miami and down here it's like running a gauntlet.

Wish me luck.

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