Worst Drivers Award Goes to Montana, According to Study
Holiday travelers preparing to hit the roads should be careful. AAA is urging caution and no driving at all after drinking. A new study said the Montanans are the worst drivers in the nation.
According to a study from carinsurancecomparison.com, Montana shares the top spot for worst drivers with South Carolina. The study said Montana ranks No. 1 in drunk driving. The group also looked at the fatality rate, failure to obey traffic signals, speeding and not wearing a seatbelt.
Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Luke Burson said he wasn't surprised by the study. Burson said Montana's bad driving reputation can be attributed to a number of factors, including a relaxed seat belt policy. That means people can't be pulled over for not wearing a seat belt.
"There's a lot of things that we need to change," said Burson. He says some of what needs to change is obvious like drunk driving, speeding and wearing seat belts.
"As a culture in Montana we don't wear our seat belts for some reason, and that's something that needs to change as well. It's a very simple thing to do and it could very easily save a life," said Burson.
Drivers from around the Missoula area had mixed reaction to the study.
NBC Montana talked to a dozen drivers. Rusty Moore said he doesn't think Montanans are the worst on the road.
"Montana doesn't have the worst drivers but it doesn't have the best either. There are bad drivers everywhere you go," said Moore.
Roland Frey said he thinks drivers in Montana are pretty good overall. Frey says there are a few reasons why the study found Montana at the top of the list.
"Probably the speed limits. We probably drive a little faster here, more rural roads, maybe more people are getting in accidents," said Frey.
Law enforcement and drivers agree improving Montana's reputation is all about education and common sense.
"It's got to start with education. When kids are learning to drive," said Moore.
"We have a lot of things that we need to overcome -- what kids were watching their parents do, growing up, while they were sitting in the passengers seat," said Burson.
With the holiday season in full swing there are a lot more drivers hitting the road, Burson's best advice iso increase the distance between you and the car in front of you.
Troopers also recommend giving yourself some extra time to travel, especially with winter weather on the way.