New study confirms it: Pa. drivers are terrible, but not as awful as you’d think | Monday Morning Coffee

July 6, 2020 7:08 am

Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

If you have ever Froggered your way across Forster Street in Harrisburg; white-knuckled it down the Schuylkill Expressway in Philadelphia; tried to merge on one of Pittsburgh’s caution-yellow bridges; or darted madly between the tractor-trailers barreling down the Keystone State’s kidney-rattling interstates, then you rightly have found yourself asking some variation on this question:

Do they actually teach Drivers’ Ed in this state anymore, or do they just hand people licenses, pat them on the head, and rely on natural selection to do the rest?

Thanks to a new study, we have something approximating an official answer: While Pennsylvanians are, by no means, the worst drivers in these United States, they’re not exactly the greatest either, suggesting that there’s still room for improvement.

That conclusion comes from the good folks at the financial literacy site SmartAsset (fill in your own punchlines), who weighed such factors are the percentage of insured drivers; DUI arrests per 1,000 drivers and fatalities per 100 million miles traveled.

Ranking the states from worst to best, Pennsylvania finished 33rd nationwide, which, if you do a little math, means the state actually has the 17th best drivers in this great land of ours, putting it into the top half of states.

But before you take a victory lap, we’d urge you to look at the list of the Top 10 Best and Worst States, and also consider how Pennsylvania fared compared to its neighbors.First up, the Top 10 Worst States:
1. Mississippi
2. Nevada
3. Tennessee
4. Florida
5. California
6. Arizona
7. South Carolina/Texas (tie)
9. New Mexico
10. Alaska

Number one finisher Mississippi, “has the second-highest rate of fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles driven, at 1.63. The state also ranks second for the lowest percentage of drivers insured, at just 76.3%. Mississippi also has the sixth-highest ratio of Google searches for “speeding ticket” or “traffic ticket” relative to searches for “gasoline,” at 2.03,” the analysis concludes.

Now, the Top 10 Best States:
1. Massachussets
2. Utah
3. Nebraska
4. Vermont
5. Maine
6. New York
7. Connecticut
8. Ohio/Kansas (tie)
10. New Hampshire

“Though people who have to drive every day in Boston may disagree, Massachusetts has the fewest bad drivers in the nation, according to our study,” the analysis concludes. “The Bay State ranks within the best 10 states for three of the four metrics we considered, including having the fewest fatalities in the study per 100 million vehicle miles driven.”

And, finally, here’s how Pennsylvania (17th best) stacked up against its neighbors:

The Keystone State finished ahead of Maryland (25), but behind all the rest of its neighboring states: Delaware (12); New Jersey (13); New York (6); Ohio (8) and narrowly behind West Virginia. (15).

Think about that one for a moment: New York and New Jersey have better drivers, Pennsylvania. There’s a debt of honor to be settled here.

The Pennsylvania Capitol building. (Capital-Star photo by Sarah Anne Hughes)

Our Stuff.
In this week’s edition of The Numbers RacketCassie Miller continues her analysis of the state’s $25.8 billion stopgap budget. This week, state support for K-12 and higher education goes under the microscope.

If you missed it on Sunday, make sure you read NEPA Correspondent Patrick Abdalla’s engrossing and inspiring profile of a Scranton woman who’s made it her mission to unearth and elevate the rich history of the Electric City’s Black community.

Intern Jordan Wolman has moved on to a new publication in his summer rotation, but he still found the time to take a look at some Pennsylvania school districts who fell prey to data breaches.

On our Commentary Page this morning, Dick Polman explains how ruby red Oklahoma recently delivered a decisive win for … Barack Obama. And Jay Bookman, of our sibling site, the Georgia Recorder, wonders if we’re now witnessing the decisive battle of the culture wars.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw (Philadelphia Tribune photo)

Philadelphia could soon see independent oversight of the police department – but can the city afford itThe Inquirer has the story.
‘Youth specialists’ will replace police at one Allegheny County middle school, the Post-Gazette reports.
PennLive profiles new Pennsylvania House Speaker Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster.
Marchers in Allentown say the city’s largest high school fails Black students, and are calling for more funding and a mandatory Black history curriculum, the Morning Call reports.

Here’s your #Harrisburg Instagram of the Day:


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A post shared by Michael Yatsko (@yatsko) on

Hundreds of marchers peacefully occupied I-676 in Philadelphia on Sunday, to protest the earlier tear-gassing of marchers there, WHYY-FM reports.  
Pennsylvania’s summer camps have felt the twin sting of the pandemic and visa restrictions, the PA Post reports. 
looks at how police reform efforts have lifted cannabis legalization.
Politico looks at President Donald Trump’s ‘shrinking electoral map.’

What Goes On.
The House comes in on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week to finish up its work on some police reform bills before heading home for an election/summer recess.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Belated best wishes go out this morning to Jason High of the Ridge Policy Group, Eric Veronikis, of Harrisburg University, and Jeff Coleman, head man at Churchill Strategies, all of whom celebrated on Saturday. Additional belated best wishes go out to Kayla Dwyer, of the Morning Call, who celebrated on Sunday. Fully updated congratulations go out this morning to longtime pal Kevin Manner, of ADP, who celebrates today.

Heavy Rotation.
It’s always a better day when there’s new music from Paul Weller in the world. Here’s the title track from the Modfather’s newly released solo LP. It’s the very soulful “On Sunset.”

Monday’s Gratuitous Baseball Link.
WKYC-TV explains how Cleveland’s professional baseball team ended up with its nickname. The American League club is now considering changing it.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.