When Allstate released its annual "America's Best Drivers Report" last week, Salt Lake City ranked 63rd among the nation's 200 largest cities. It was a good sign.
The ranking set off a cry of local outrage from people who believe Salt Lake drivers are way more horrible than 63rd. Not only are we the worst drivers in America, but probably in the universe.
I happen to agree with them, although not for reasons that will make them happy.
Right up front let me say that I don't trust reports. I also believe that statistics are simply a creative way of arranging numbers into a potentially believable lie.
Here's how it works: I have been alive roughly 21,946.3 days.
If I factor in the number of days spent going to church (302), input the number of days spent in jail (four or five, I can't remember exactly), add the total number of times I have kicked a puppy (zero), and include a 2 percent plus or minus margin for being full of *%$&, we get = a nice guy.
It's false, of course. You could ask my wife, my kids, most of my neighbors and any boss I've ever had, and stand a better chance of getting the truth about what kind of guy I am. There's nothing like personal experience for putting numbers in their place.
But I trust that even less because it's based on pre-existing biases. And it's this personal experience that people who denounce Utah drivers use as the basis for their/our conclusion.
Yeah, Utah drivers are crazy. But you couldn't possibly know that unless you drive here which would make you a Utah driver and therefore part of the problem. I know I am. I learned to drive in California, but I'm in Utah now.
Exactly how awful Utah drivers really are could depend on your driving, which, if you're an average commuter, is only slightly better than that of a hammerhead shark.
Finding fault with other people's driving in this manner is no way of getting at the truth because your findings are skewed by the premise that you're a good or better one.
My old man rails about maniac high-speed drivers in Utah, but it's a conclusion he maintains while routinely traveling 15 miles under the speed limit on the freeway.
This is an entirely different position than the one he held 40 years ago when he thought Utah drivers were a bunch of clueless motoring hicks. I went on road trips with him back then. He routinely traveled in excess of 90 mph. Faster on the freeway.
I do it, too. I hate it when people don't use their turns signals. I'd probably hate it a lot less if I wasn't driving right on their bumper so that their signaling was actually a matter of life or death.
It makes me crazy to see how many people are gabbing on cellphones when they drive. But I've done it and I'll bet people complaining about it being so prevalent in Utah have done it, too.
What about all the times you've screwed up while driving in Utah leaving your signal on for six miles, weaving in and out of traffic, corking up the fast lane, driving while distracted? And don't say you never have. Any completely objective observer will know you're lying.
If you're from some other place where drivers are motoring angels, but you have Utah plates and are driving with your head in your hams, other people think you're a Utah driver. And I hate to break it to you, but you are.
Robert Kirby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.