Missoula, Mont.— Horrendous driving is one of Missoula’s favorite tirades and people SHOULD be angry. For the second year in a row, Montana ranks number 1 as the nation’s worst drivers according to a 2015 study done by CarInsuranceComparison.com. The study shows that Montana finished among the top 20 in every category, ranging from 20th in speeding to a whopping 1st in fatality rates. In Missoula, 85 cases were filed, not including nine cases involving second offenders as of March this year.
The reasons cited for bad driving include speed, operating a vehicle while under the influence, failure to obey and passing on the wrong side. Other grievances include driving while distracted, u-turns, four-way stops, road rage, and the list goes on and on. An article by KYSS-FM highlights many of these complaints stating that “as time goes on, most drivers start to get a little lazy, and some end up developing some pretty bad habits”
A craigslist rant voiced the frustrations of people who are trying to navigate Missoula roadways on their way to and from work.
“USE YOUR FUCKING BLINKERS!!! Whether you are switching lanes or turning!!! Use them!! If it’s broken, GET IT FIXED! You are an ACCIDENT waiting to happen,” the irate driver wrote adding, “GET OFF YOUR DAMN PHONE!!! If you think texting and driving in town is dangerous, doing it at highway speeds is even more deadly.”
This isn’t the only outburst in the “rants and raves” section of the popular website. There are others with the same concerns. In addition, you can find complaints in Reddit feeds, on Facebook, and on Twitter.
Even bicyclists are chiming in criticizing driver’s lack of concern for their road presence. In 2008, an article by the Missoula Independent highlighted the cities most frightening bike intersections including Third and Russell, and Malfunction Junction along with advice on navigating the areas. Still, eight years later, bicyclists complain that the roads are just as dangerous now as they were then.
“I was hit twice and the drivers just drove off and left me there both times,” Missoula native Rebecca Holden said. “The second time my bike was trashed and I had scrapes and bruises all over me.”
Alternately, Missoulians argue that bicyclists don’t follow the laws of the road and ride willy-nilly through the streets ignoring traffic laws entirely. In a letter to the editor published in the Missoulian entitled “Scofflaw riders should be ticketed,” an irritated Dennis Startin of Missoula complains that the bikers don’t use safety precautions such as lights that allow them to be seen in the dark.
“Where is the Missoula Police Department and why are they not issuing tickets to those who break the law? If it were my car without a headlight, I would have gotten a ticket,” said Startin.
So what is being done to fix these problems? In 2015, the Missoula City Council proposed changes to a 2012 ordinance that banned drivers from using cellphones while operating their vehicles. The law would now include bicyclists and provide specific provisions, which make it easier for law enforcement to administer tickets to offenders.
“It is just trying to put an end to distracted driving and make the tools a little better for us. They are just trying to clarify the city ordinance,” said Sergeant Greg Amundson in an NBC Montana article dated April 26 of this year. “They don’t want you to have the phone in your hand, they want to eliminate the distractions of your phone.”
Also, Missoula is planning a complete makeover for Russell, which includes replacement of the Russell Street Bridge, widening of the road to four lanes, and the construction of sidewalks and raised bike lanes according to the Missoulian.
It doesn’t matter if you are a pedestrian, driver, biker, or even a city official it’s clear we have a problem with shitty drivers and have for a long time. The city is working on significant renovations, which will take several years but for now, expect high car insurance and avoid Malfunction Junction as much as possible.