Yes, it's eye-catching that Maryland came in 49th out of 50 states and the District of Columbia in knowledge of driving laws. But let's not take it all that seriously.
In an overwhelming number of cases, in my view and his, a crash occurs when a driver knows perfectly well what shouldn't be done — but does it anyway.
Yet there is a nugget of truth to the survey's findings that struck a chord among readers of The Baltimore Sun and the Getting There blog. Indeed, one need spend only a few hours on Maryland's roads to realize this is not exactly the Land of Pleasant Driving.
For some, the results served as confirmation of their racial prejudices or political preferences. Did Maryland score low? Must have been all those African-Americans and Democrats. Funny, you don't hear that when Maryland is rated near the top in something like public schools.
But some of the dozens of observations posted to the Getting There blog were worth sharing — if for no other reason than they were a hoot. Full identifications are not given because the postings were made without an expectation that the commenters would be identified. The sections marked "comment" here are mine. (You can read the whole list of reader comments on the Getting There blog.)
One of the most common reactions was a complete lack of surprise that Maryland was so honored.
From Jen: How is ANYONE shocked? I could've told you this 8 years ago when I first moved to Maryland from New York.
As soon as your average Marylander steps behind the wheel, they morph into an inconsiderate, inattentive moron. Did you know that little stick on the left-hand side of the wheel is a turn signal, which is used to warn others about your upcoming actions? And those mirror things are to help keep you aware of your surroundings? Don't even get me started if it's raining or snowing. ….
Is the [Motor Vehicle Administration] underfunded or something? I couldn't believe my eyes when I first came here. Now I'm just used to awful drivers.
COMMENT: The MVA tests. It doesn't teach. That's largely a function of parents.
Colleen T. offered a tongue-in-cheek Driving Rules for Marylanders:
• Green means go, yellow means go faster, and red lights have grace periods.
• Turn signals are to be used only mid-turn or after the turn has been completed in order to confirm to other drivers that you just changed lanes.
• Right lane, left lane? They're all lanes, so who cares if I drive 50 mph on I-95 in the left lane.
• Special rule for Baltimore City: Why park when I can just stop my car in the middle of the road?
jwins: I always thought that drivers in this state were merely choosing to ignore the rules of the road ... but nope ... apparently we just don't know them to begin with!
Jacob likewise professed complete nonsurprise: I just wish Baltimore area drivers would use their TURN SIGNALS. Seriously! Do people think that lever on the steering column is just an option — if it's convenient? Doesn't it make sense that you should let other drivers know if you decide to TURN, or CHANGE LANES — with your two-thousand pound, hundred-plus horsepower missile?