With the summer driving season upon us, the American Automobile Association predicts motorists in the United States will jump-start high summer by taking to the highways by the millions on the upcoming Fourth of July weekend. In fact, the AAA (http://www.aaa.com)/ expects cheap gas and the desire to avoid the hassles and rising prices of modes of transport such as flying will prompt a whopping 17.1 percent increase in domestic driving over last year's Independence Day holiday.
All the more reason to drive carefully, yes? Speaking as one who feels lucky to have walked away from an accident two years ago when my wife and I were rear-ended by a drunk, speeding 20-year-old, this sounds abundantly obvious.
Yet, this morning's inbox contains a press release touting the results of a study commissioned by an organization called the National Motorists Association (http://www.motorists.org/), advising drivers which of the 50 U.S. states are most likely to ticket drivers. The assumption behind the release is that the tickets are unjust. Indeed, the release states the organization "has been helping drivers fight their traffic tickets for over 25 years.''
But as I can attest, not all traffic tickets are unjust; I'll bet you can verify that fact, too. The organization in question doesn't have any way of establishing whether its "fighting'' on behalf of innocents or scofflaws. Moreover, 'traffic ticket' is a broad term, covering a wide range of charges, such as DUI, speeding, running redlights and ignoring stop signs, as well as non-moving violations such as illegal parking. Are all traffic tickets created equal? I don't think so.
Intrigued if puzzled, I read on. Florida is the state most likely to ticket, I was informed, followed by Georgia and Nevada, which finished in a dead heat, so to speak, for second place. The state least likely to ticket? Montana. Wyoming and North and South Dakota are slow to hand out citations, too, according to the study.
All very interesting. But useful? What are motorists to do with this information? Not drive in the states that pull people over? Lead-foot it over to the states that don't?
"Nothing can ruin a vacation more quickly than an undeserved traffic ticket,'' the press release claims. Actually, something can: A traffic accident, whether it's your fault or not. A fatal traffic accident could end your vacation.
Maybe instead of keeping an eye peeled for cops, drivers should just slow down, look before changing lanes, use those ever-less-employed turn signals more often, exhale and enjoy the ride. The accident rate - not just the rate of ticketing - would go down.
It's summertime and the living is easy. Let's take it easy and live.