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County drivers not rude, just annoyingly courteous



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David Rauzi drauzi@idahocountyfreepress.com

Someone once said that the value of a survey is not in the results but in the controversy it generates in its aftermath with folks vying to contradict its findings.

Who said that? Well, we did. And the description fits just fine to last month’s findings by Insure.com that Idaho is the number one state in the nation for having the rudest drivers

The independent consumer insurance website based this on a nationwide survey of 2,000 drivers – yes, quite exhaustive (snicker) – that laid out the remaining offenders as District of Columbia (which isn’t a state, but…), New York, Wyoming, Massachusetts, Vermont, Delaware, New Jersey, Nevada and Utah.

In summary, Idahoans have “opposite yet equally vexing styles of driving” in such ways as moving so slowly that they’re judged to be rude, and aggressive drivers who speed around motorists and flip them off.

While we’re not experts in how Idaho motorists act as a whole, we can speak to Idaho County, and to Grangeville specifically.

Rude is not necessarily a local driver trait. Annoyingly courteous to the detriment of the rules of the road would be more appropriate.

“Right of way” is less of a rule around here and more of a general “if you feel like it” guideline. The guy across from you may have right-of-way, to turn, but he is more often than not to wave you through. Maybe you got to the intersection first, or he likes/scared of your rig. Or he’s on the phone, or he thinks you’re someone else. So as a result, you and he wave back and forth at each other with growing frustration, and each other’s cars stop and start like novices driving a stick shift. (Yeah, you know you’ve done this…).

And it’s that right-of-way issue that generates probably your more aggressive drivers around here. One reason is we’re all trying to beat each other through the intersections to avoid that awkward stop-and-start dance. Intersections are somewhat scary around here as the prevailing wisdom is that north-south streets have the right-of-way. So we’re like movie action heroes in a cliffhanger at each unsigned four-way, guessing – as our bumpers grow ever closer — at whether the driver is going to yield to us, or if we’ll be doing the Hokey Pokey of squealing tires and grinding gears.

And, of course, we’re slow around here. How else are you going to get a parking spot on Main Street, or see who’s in the restaurant so you know whether to go in or not? And you can’t just do a drive-by “Hi!” at someone on the sidewalk; you gotta take it slow and see how their day went. Fortunately on that last, that’s what side streets are for: stopping altogether to chat with the driver in the opposite lane. Hey, people can just go around or take another street; what’s the big deal? We’d blame all this mid-street congestion on the farmers, but they’ve already taken all the good parking spots and are inside the café eating.

We can’t speak to the “flipping off” issue, except that maybe that supposed offender didn’t take well to his or her schooling, and, in fact, they’re just commenting on how you are number one in their book … rather than number two. Giving someone “the bird” is much easier in the anonymity of the city. Invariably, the first time you try it around here, you’ll suddenly drive into full view of the person and come eye-to-eye with your spouse or boss or pastor or the police chief. Talk about awkward.

Like a lot of these surveys, we take them for the entertainment they are. And if being slow and sociable are considered “rude” driving these days, we’ll gladly take the labels. Just watch your fingers, and remember that right-of-way is a law and not a drag race.



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