America is not the greatest country when it comes to driving

Marcus Berggren/ Contributing Writer

As an automotive journalist, I’ve driven in almost 30 countries on four different continents, and I average 45,000 miles per year. I’ve also driven in circa 20 different U.S. states. Throughout my travels I always analyze the driving styles of other countries based on my own expectations. In other words, you expect Italians to drive like maniacs and Germans to drive like demi-gods. In the same way, you would expect Americans to be decent drivers with at least a hint of respect for the rules. Especially considering that it’s one of the most bureaucratic countries on earth. After all, America is a country on wheels and there’s literally a drive-thru everything. I won’t bore you with statistics, but if you decide to look them up, you’ll probably be surprised by how many traffic deaths there are.

Obviously not all Americans are terrible drivers but frankly, the majority is. This column is in regards to the common man, not Randy Pobst. This isn’t an opinion I base on some sort of personal vendetta, instead it’s based on facts. One concrete example is Florida Law 316.081(2) and (3) which states that “Slower traffic keep right and all traffic yield left lane to traffic approaching from behind.” Just after 5 minutes of driving in Florida, you notice absolutely no one pays attention to this law. Everyone drives where they please and faster drivers basically turn the entire highway into a slalom course. It’s a form of organized chaos. Even if this isn’t the case in all states — drivers farther north seem to have adapted a more European driving style — it certainly is a problem almost everywhere.

I’m not trying to paint a picture of the U.S. being every driver’s perdition while Europe is some sort of haven. Granted, in southern Europe, driving seems to be an anarchic activity, but for the most part, there is great lane discipline and a consideration of other road users. In the U.S., you’ll often find trucks doing 55 in the left-most lane for no apparent reason. Moreover, the every man for himself mentality seems widespread in the U.S., and people are generally more keen on getting into accidents than helping others out. There’s obviously a reason all those dash cam videos on Youtube are either from the U.S. or Russia.

So, why is it that the entire traffic situation basically is a mobocracy combined with a police state? When interviewing students about their driving habits, the majority considered themselves to be great drivers. I for one think that the entire driving test procedure has to be overhauled in the U.S. Compared to Europe, getting a license in the U.S. is getting your passport renewed while in Europe it’s more like getting a 2400 on the SATs. Three days after having moved to the U.S. I received a $285 speeding ticket. Shortly afterwards, I received countless adverts in the mail with lawyers who wanted me to fight the ticket — “99% success rate” seemed to be the most commonly used slogan. Since I knew I was in the wrong and had in fact sped, I opted to pay the ticket. I would not contest my own erroneous actions.

A lot of Americans think America trumps everything else. Since I’ve moved here, I’ve heard people exclaiming “America is the greatest country in the world” and I usually ask which countries in Europe they’ve visited and more often than not, the answer is along the lines of “Oh, I’ve never been outside the U.S.”

“Americans can’t drive” won’t be taken lightly. Although, factually-speaking, that seems to be the case.


The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of Panther Press Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.


Photo courtesy of Marcus Bergen.

1 Comment on "America is not the greatest country when it comes to driving"

  1. I agree. Although I ve never been to Europe, I have noticed more and more drivers do not respect the rules set by the state. Reckless and irresponsible drivers are the one who make the rules now.
    I don’t consider myself a great driver but the term “defensive driver is a badge I wear often. P.S. American is not the greatest country in the world.It’s just nice.

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