Are Colorado driv­ers re­ally po­lite, or just in de­nial?

The Denver Post - - OPINION - By Greg Dobbs

This is about driv­ing in Colorado. More pre­cisely, it’s about driv­ers in Colorado. Sure, Don­ald Trump might make my stom­ach churn every day of the week, but once I leave home, I put Trump in the back seat where he be­longs and churn in­stead about dan­ger­ous or dis­cour­te­ous driv­ers just ahead of me. Or right be­hind me. Or in the case of bob­bers and weavers, all around me.

You know who I mean: the ones who look like they got their li­cense by bash­ing the bulls­eye on all the pop-up mon­keys at the state fair: “Con­grat­u­la­tions my friend, you hit the jackpot and here’s your prize: a driver’s li­cense good for life.”

That wouldn’t be you, of course. You are ei­ther the most cau­tious, or most po­lite, or most skilled driver on the road. But how about all the oth­ers? How did they ever get that li­cense, any­way?

I got to think­ing about this last month when a re­port came out from an east coast non­profit called Kars4Kids. Af­ter an on­line sur­vey in all 50 states, it called Coloradans the sev­enth most po­lite driv­ers in Amer­ica.

Not bad when you re­al­ize there are 43 states where driv­ers ap­par­ently aren’t as po­lite as we are.

Then again, maybe the sur­vey was flawed, be­cause when you look at it, you see ques­tions like, “When a car is try­ing to pass you on the left, do you main­tain your speed, or in­crease your speed?” Or, “Do you sig­nal be­fore turn­ing or merg­ing al­ways, usu­ally, some­times, or rarely?” They asked, “Do you re­spond rudely to be­ing tail­gated?” And: “Would you steal some­one’s park­ing spot?”

In other words, they were ac­tu­ally ask­ing us if we think we’re po­lite! That’s like ask­ing Don­ald Trump if he thinks he ranks as the best pres­i­dent in Amer­i­can his­tory. “Well, maybe af­ter Abra­ham Lin­coln. Then again, I’m prob­a­bly even bet­ter than him.”

What this po­lite­ness ap­praisal tells me is: peo­ple in 43 other states are less in de­nial than we are.

Not that all states’ driv­ers are cre­ated equal. They’re not. For in­ex­pli­ca­ble rea­sons there are cer­tain ways peo­ple drive in some states and dif­fer­ent ways in oth­ers. By re­gion, in the sur­vey, West was best.

What I no­tice my­self is, whether im­po­lite or inc­og­nizant, lots of Colorado driv­ers have dis­tinct de­fi­cien­cies. One is, a merge lane means “merge,” not “stop.” An­other is, if I’m do­ing 70 on the in­ter­state, and have to jam on my brakes, and you’re close enough be­hind me to see what’s in my trunk, you’re go­ing to end up in the trunk your­self. The last takes the form of a joke that asks, “How do you iden­tify a Coloradan?” The an­swer? “He’s the third one run­ning the red light.”

I did a lit­tle sur­vey of my own, email­ing sev­eral dozen friends here, ask­ing how they feel about their fel­low Coloradans be­hind the wheel. “I grew up in Boston where driv­ing is a full con­tact sport,” one wrote back. “By com­par­i­son Den­ver driv­ers are po­lite an­gels.” An­other Boston-born friend who drives for Uber con­firmed that: “I started to grouse about our driv­ers, then I re­turned to Boston this spring. I’ll never com­plain about Colorado driv­ers again.”

From a for­mer New Yorker: “I just had a driver shoot out in front of me on a side street. My wife com­mented that in NY, a typ­i­cal driver in my shoes would have 1) honked like crazy, or 2) taken a gun out and shot the guy. We just avoided it and moved on.” And from an­other: “In New York a horn is far more im­por­tant than cour­tesy. In Chicago pedes­tri­ans are fair game. We have it pretty good in Colorado.” In the sur­vey by the way, New York came in dead last.

By and large, my friends thought our po­lite­ness place­ment was pretty fair. And ac­cu­rate. They cited acts of Colorado kind­ness on the road. And ex­plained the grow­ing im­po­lite­ness we some­times feel from fel­low driv­ers as the in­evitable up­shot of growth.

Still though, if you want to get in­side my trunk, don’t tail­gate. Just ask.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.