Tahlequah Daily Press


May 14, 2014

Okies pay for bad driving with injuries, higher insurance cost

TAHLEQUAH — There was a time, back in the 1990s, when Oklahoma was ranked as having the worst drivers in the nation. But we have improved, it seems. The most recent data from Car Insurance Comparison has Oklahoma slipping out of the top 10, behind North Dakota, Montana, North Carolina, Missouri, Florida, Alabama, Texas, Mississippi and South Carolina, with Louisiana the worst of the worst.

The more cynical among us might suspect alcohol played a major role in keeping Oklahoma drivers listed as the 11th worst. In fact, there are several states were drunken driving is more prevalent. As far as careless driving overall, we score relatively well. Where we have our problem is failure to obey traffic laws, and our steadfast refusal to wear seatbelts. This would seem to have more to do with our recalcitrant attitude – by Jove, no one’s going to tell us what to do! – than with our ignorance of the law, or our sorry skills behind the wheel.

In Tahlequah alone, drivers stubbornly hold up traffic and endanger others while attempting to make left turns, despite prominent signs forbidding the practice. We also have an overabundance of red light and stop sign defiers, who put the pedal to the metal and blast through intersections, heedless of 6,000-pound metal masses headed their way.

Ignoring traffic laws is a recipe for disaster, and sooner or later, those who push the envelope repeatedly will see their luck run out. And paradoxically, many of the most aggressive drivers refuse to wear seatbelts. Maybe they’ll get lucky and no one will get hurt. But fender-benders take their toll in another way: They strip an increasingly bigger chunk from our paychecks in the form of higher insurance premiums.

Americans have always considered the local economy, quality of schools and appearance of the cities and communities when looking to make a move to another state. Cost of living is also a key factor, and increasingly, in places like Oklahoma, low wages and high insurance premiums are being cited as negatives by those mulling a transplant to the Sooner state. Even the metropolitan Chicago area offers lower car insurance.

The next time you spurn your seatbelt or violate a traffic law, consider that you could be killed or maimed, and what that would do to your family. If that doesn’t give you pause, think about your checkbook. It will take time for Oklahoma to improve its bad driver rating, just as it will take time to convince Okies to stop smoking and overeating – other negatives for which we’re widely ridiculed. But the work starts at home, with each individual.

We can’t really afford “bad” statistics. Let’s commit to changing them.

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  • Tourism Council and chamber should cut the proverbial cord

    They are defined by two separate purposes and operate under two distinctive sets of bylaws, but years of conflicting opinions have left lingering questions and confusion over the relationship between the decades-old Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce and the younger Tahlequah Area Tourism Council.

    July 30, 2014

  • NSU needs to be more candid when its plans go awry

    Many area residents were disappointed to learn this week that the NSU Fitness Center, and its all-important indoor lap pool, won’t open next month, as originally announced.
    This latest delay is no surprise.

    July 28, 2014

  • Higher premiums a just reward for drunken drivers

    Over the past several years, Oklahoma has slipped in many of the polls that count. This week, we learned Tulsa is No. 4 on a list of cities with high rates of fatal DUI accidents. Is anyone really surprised?

    July 25, 2014

  • Maybe it’s time to think about having another BalloonFest

    The 18th annual BalloonFest was the last one held, in 2010. In summer 2011, when the Daily Press staff hadn’t heard anything about the much-anticipated event, we started asking questions.

    July 23, 2014

  • If you see a drunken driver, take the time to call in a report

    If you see something, say something. You’ve heard the warning, and seen it imprinted on placards at airports. In the wake of 9/11, it became a national mantra, mainly aimed at spotting potential terrorist activities. But it’s good advice anytime, and for any reason, even at the local level.

    July 14, 2014

  • City officials should stop squabbling and try to work together

    It’s bad enough that the Chamber of Commerce scandal has given Tahlequah a black eye. But if the bickering among city officials doesn’t stop, the community will have a complete set of shiners for its public face.

    July 11, 2014

  • Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

    Despite pressure from some quarters, neither the Press nor anyone else who values full disclosure will be clamming up until all the facts are known, and those who are responsible meet with justice.

    July 10, 2014

  • Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

    A few board members for the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce are saying they’ve heard nothing but positive things lately – about the chamber itself, and presumably, about themselves.

    July 9, 2014

  • Employer-sponsored insurance may now be a ‘hostage’ situation

    When the fallout settles from the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, many Americans might decide they’re better off with health insurance that doesn’t come from their boss.

    July 7, 2014

  • With confidence in Congress at 7 percent, time for a new slate

    Note to Congress: We don’t like you. Not at all.
    A Gallup poll released Monday, June 30 confirmed what most of us already know: the American public is disgusted with the House and Senate. The survey recorded the lowest level of confidence since Gallup began asking the question in 1991: a whopping 7 percent. That’s not a typographical error; it’s a single digit.

    July 2, 2014


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