Kars4Kids ranks state’s driv­ers 7th most cour­te­ous

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Libby Rainey

Colorado driv­ers rank sev­enth for ex­tend­ing cour­tesy, a re­port says, trail­ing front-run­ner Idaho and far sur­pass­ing last-place New York, ac­cord­ing to Kars4Kids, a New Jer­sey-based non­profit. »

If you’re a slow or ner­vous driver, then Colorado may be the state for you. A re­cent na­tion­wide sur­vey in­di­cates you’ll find some of the most cour­te­ous and pa­tient driv­ers in the coun­try here.

Colorado driv­ers are the most po­lite in the U.S., ac­cord­ing to Kars4Kids, a New Jer­sey-based non­profit that’s funded by ve­hi­cle do­na­tions. The group’s study re­vealed Colorado driv­ers are more likely than most in the na­tion to let an­other car merge in heavy traf­fic and to prac­tice pa­tience when some­one is tail­gat­ing.

How­ever, Colorado driv­ers might steal your park­ing spot. Kars4Kids awarded each state a let­ter grade for var­i­ous driv­ing habits, and granted Coloradans a “B” for park­ing spot swip­ing. Cal­i­for­nia, Ore­gon and other western states had an “A” av­er­age in that cat­e­gory.

Colorado driv­ers ranked sev­enth for ex­tend­ing cour­tesy, the re­port said, trail­ing front run­ner Idaho and far sur­pass­ing last­place New York. The rank­ings were based on re­sponses from 50 driv­ers in each state to a se­ries of road­way sce­nar­ios. For ex­am­ple: “There’s a line of cars wait­ing at a red light. You’re con­tin­u­ing straight past the light. The right-turn­ing lane is empty. Do you use that lane to go around them?”

Most Colorado driv­ers who com­pleted the sur­vey said no. But Ben Baron, the owner of Den­ver’s DriveSafe driv­ing schools, said the real an­swer is more likely to de­pend on cir­cum­stance.

“In Colorado, we have very dif­fer­ent con­di­tions if you’re driv­ing in a ru­ral area ver­sus down­town Den­ver,” Baron said. “If you’re driv­ing on Colorado Boule­vard on a busy time of day, I sus­pect we would lose that sev­enth rank­ing very quickly.”

Colorado State Trooper Josh Lewis echoed this sen­ti­ment, not­ing that, “Driv­ing close to Den­ver metro area is dif­fer­ent from the East­ern Plains — they’ll have dif­fer­ent types of eti­quette.”

Com­mon road cour­te­sies vary by state, Baron said. When merg­ing onto an in­ter­state, for ex­am­ple, driv­ers in some states con­sider it rude to speed ahead in the merge lane be­fore cut­ting into the flow of traf­fic. But in other states, like New York, this is stan­dard op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dure.

“Some­times be­ing cour­te­ous is not nec­es­sar­ily be­ing the most ef­fi­cient, but it is be­ing nice,” Baron said. “Dif­fer­ent ar­eas of the coun­try have dif­fer­ent norms in terms of how to han­dle traf­fic.”

The West ranked by far the most cour­te­ous re­gion, po­litely out­pac­ing the sim­i­larly ranked

North­east, Mid­west and South. The study also tracked po­lite­ness by gen­der and age. Women were far more cour­te­ous than men, while driv­ers age 24 or younger proved to be the least po­lite.

Ari Finkel­stein, a spokesman for Kars4Kids, said the non­profit launched the sur­vey to pro­mote cour­te­ous driv- ing.

“Once you step into the car you don’t see the other car as a per­son be­hind the wheel,” he said. “There’s that anony­mous feel­ing that you’re not deal­ing with other peo­ple.”

Finkel­stein said the worse their state was ranked, the more res­i­dents seemed to agree with the study.

“Most peo­ple just think that ev­ery­one driv­ing around them is rude and im­po­lite, which ver­i­fies the need for this cam­paign,” he said.

Cour­te­ous driv­ing of­ten means safer driv­ing, said Sam Cole, a spokesman for the Colorado Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion.

“It’s great news for traf­fic safety in Colorado if we truly have some of the safest driv­ers in the coun­try,” Cole said. “With Colorado grow­ing as fast as it is, there’s more con­ges­tion. So I think that the fact that peo­ple are re­main­ing calm and pa­tient … speaks vol­umes of the peo­ple that live here.”

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