I learned this fun fact during our statewide Thanksgiving road trip.
To be fair, we’re tied with our neighbors to the east. Louisianans are just as bad, if that makes you feel any better. (It seems our states are highly competitive in rankings of “worst,” “fattest” and “lowest.”)
Our recent worstness was reported in USA Today and is based on an analysis by carinsurancecomparison.com. The insurance folks looked at a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study of fatal car crashes and their causes. Texas scored in the top 15 in every awful category considered. We were #3 in drunk driving, which I bet you’re not surprised to hear.
Culture of stupid vs. culture of safety
But here’s something I don’t get. Over the years, I’ve worked with a lot of Texans and Louisianans employed by energy companies and service companies. These are major employers and big influencers in both states. The companies teach and preach a “culture of safety.” The people I know buy into the culture—at least enough to buckle their seatbelt and not drive drunk.
So, what’s happening? Is there a stronger influence at work? Jackass movies, perhaps? Or is it something more systemic and sinister? For example, are our vehicles, highway system and traffic laws designed to foster the mayhem we see every day?
For now, I’m thinking about the battle being waged between automakers and technology companies. Both know that autonomous vehicles (self-driving cars) are inevitable. Most automakers want to go slower, adding self-driving features until we’re all comfortable with the idea of robot-assisted cars. Google wants to remove the steering wheel and gas pedal altogether—ASAP—and let the robot do the driving.
As someone who’s frequently on the road in Texas and Louisiana (home of the drive-thru daiquiri stand), I know which approach I prefer. What do you think?