Twin Citians are horrible drivers – Part 2

Monday’s post about the Allstate Insurance survey showing that St. Paul and Minneapolis feature some of the worst drivers in the nation certainly struck a nerve with readers, who went above and beyond in efforts to explain why the survey was probably wrong.

Because who are you going to believe: some insurance company or your lying eyes?

Let’s check in with our old colleague, Ken Paulman, who keeps an eye on the habits of drivers in these parts.

He’s not impressed either.

It happened this morning around 7:45 at Wabasha and Fillmore in St. Paul, he says.

As long as we’re on the subject again, here’s another request. When it’s raining, and you can barely see the road in front of you despite the constant pounding of the windshield wipers, can you maybe turn on your lights?

Because, you know, it’s the law in Minnesota.

(h/t: Paul Tosto)

  • joetron2030

    If people can’t be bothered to NOT look at their phones while they drive, there’s no way in heck that we can expect them to turn on their headlights when there’s any sort of precipitation in the air. It’s depressing at a minimum.

    • A lot of cars now have an “auto” setting for headlights so the driver no longer has even think of actually turning them on. But it becomes problematic in yesterday’s conditions. Our skills atrophy. Sort of like flushing the toilet and putting soap on our hands.

      • jon

        Solution: just always drive with your lights on.

        Most cars turn them off automatically if they are left on, so they don’t drain the battery, just never turn them off.

        • Rob

          Yes! Then your vehicle has maximum visibility to all drivers in all conditions.

          • Matthew

            A majority of my driving time is during daylight. I always leave my headlights on, since I like the increased visibility (and wish others would do the same). I wonder if the lifetime of my headlights are significantly reduced by being on “needlessly” during daylight hours.

          • Rob

            If the lifetime of headlights is reduced – and I’m assuming it is – it’s a de minimis price to pay for enhanced visibility and safety, is it not?

          • jon

            yes, the bulbs are generally rated for a number of hours, and the longer they run the sooner they burn out.

            halogens usually last about a thousand hours…
            Replace them with LEDs and and you are looking at 15 thousand hours…
            if you drive 10 hours a day with led bulbs they should last 13-14 years… So if your bulbs burn out replace them with an LED bulb and they’ll likely outlast the car.

          • X.A. Smith

            The reduced lifetime of your light bulbs is a great trade off for the increased lifetime of yourself.

      • Mike Stevens

        I hope that automakers start adding an interlock between the auto setting and the wipers to help with this problem. I’ve trained myself to turn on both together. When I first got a car with the auto setting, I was guilty the first handful of times too.

    • >>If people can’t be bothered to NOT look at their phones while they drive,<<

      No kidding.

      /My ex-car…again. Rear-ended last year by an SUV going 45 at a HARD red light. I was 12th in line at the light and there was at LEAST 1/4 mile of clear road in front of the driver.This damage was from him pushing my car into a 3 car chain reaction.

      That driver got a ticket for distracted driving and I'm STILL waiting to hear from his insurance as to a final settlement. It's been 18 months now…

      • Jeff

        Oh no, not the Audi!

        Every time I see a Hi Bob license plate, I stop for a drink.

        • 212944


      • Jerry

        I’m sorry. Something in your story doesn’t add up. You’re saying an Audi was the victim of an accident and not the cause? Right. Next thing you will tell me about a BMW driver that uses their turn signals and observes safe following distance.

      • joetron2030

        Ugh. Infuriating. I’m sorry that you were the victim of one of these clueless knobs.

  • Jim in RF

    I’m convinced that the throwaway lines “don’t drive like my brother” and “and don’t drive like my brother” were actually very observant. People think they drive just fine but everyone else sucks, and everyone else thinks you suck but they’re just fine.

    • Nato Coles

      Absolutely! I have always loved that phrase, how it perfectly encapsulates Dunning-Kruger behind the wheel.

    • Jeff

      Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac? George Carlin

  • Barton

    A VERY FAIR point on the cross walk. It happens all the time: cars stopping past the cross walk or in the middle of it. And right turns on red in this state should be outlawed (no one stops first as required, they just turn if no car is coming and screw any cyclist/pedestrian with the right of way).

    Also, can someone explain to me the creeping up at the lights that happen in this state? The driver stops behind the crosswalk but slowly creeps up until they are covering it completely by the time the light turns green. I don’t see this in any other state I drive through.

    I will say none of these horrible, dangerous, and illegal maneuvers will stop until the police enforcement: except the police are just as guilty of them all and never seem to care.

    • MikeB

      The lack of enforcement means we use the honor system. Terrific.

    • Postal Customer

      You want people to stop at an intersection? Replace the red light with a YIELD sign. People always stop at those.

      • RBHolb

        Stopping at a “Yield” sign is what you do sometimes.

        My experience has been that a slight majority don’t know how to yield. They assume it means that if they are there first they get to go. Check out the roundabout near Minnehaha Falls.

        • >>Check out the roundabout near Minnehaha Falls.<<

          That's just a poorly designed traffic circle…

          • RBHolb

            Call it morning driving through the sound and in and out the valley.

    • JamieHX

      I’ve never noticed that happening here — the creeping thing.

  • Matthew

    Is there an official decision on the demonym for folks who live in the Twin Cities? I personally prefer Twin Citizen, but Twin Citian may be ok too.

    • Rob

      St Paulite or Minneapolitan?

      • Matthew

        Heh, sure, but I wanted a cool phrase that includes everyone in the metro.

        • John


        • Rob

          Twin Townian? Catchier than Twin Citian, IMHO

    • Jeff

      Hot Dishian

    • X.A. Smith

      I prefer Twin Citizen, too.

  • Mike Worcester

    //As long as we’re on the subject again, here’s another request. When it’s
    raining, and you can barely see the road in front of you despite the
    constant pounding of the windshield wipers, can you maybe turn on your

    As was noted by Bob in another comment, yesterday’s conditions — or even at dawn/dusk — is definitely problematic. I’ve had to catch myself at times having to make sure my lights were on, not just the auto ones because that does not turn on the rear lights, which is nice to have in pouring rain, or in snowy conditions, so you don’t’ bump into someone from behind.

    • >>I’ve had to catch myself at times having to make sure my lights were on, not just the auto ones because that does not turn on the rear lights, which is nice to have in pouring rain, or in snowy conditions, so you don’t’ bump into someone from behind.<<

      I see this happen all the time with people using their DRLs, and it's infuriating.

      • Rob

        Rear lights being on are useful in all conditions. And in most modern vehicles, if you keep your headlight setting in the “on” position, the lights automatically shut off when you turn your engine off, so there’s no need to remember to turn them on every time you get in the vehicle.

        • Yep, although in my case, I have to manually turn off the lights (18 year old car).

        • But if you keep in the “auto” position, the light stay on AFTER you shut your engine off and you’ve fumbled your way into the house.

          • Rob

            : )

    • Veronica

      Why, oh why, can’t we make it so all cars have their lights on all the time?

  • blindeke

    The reason the Allstate thing was wrong is that claims do not equate to safety. Boston Massachusetts has a high rate of claims, but is also the safest major US city in which to walk. The streets are designed so that there might be lots of small crashes but few fatal ones. Minnesotans aren’t good or bad drivers, per se, but our city streets are sure designed to be deadly for anyone on foot.

    • Boston is more than the Back Bay

      • blindeke

        Hm I should travel to Boston and walk past the end of Newbury street. Thanks for the tip!

        (I’ve spent time walking in metro Boston for a decade. I’m talking about the entire metro. Boston has a traffic death rate of 2.3 per 100,000 people, very low for the US, though not for other cities around Europe or in Canada. A lot of that has to do with the narrow pre-war street street grid and relatively slow speeds that are far more common in Boston than anywhere else in the US. It’s an example of the connection between who is a “good driver” and street design. IMO there are no such thing as good drivers, only dangerous streets.)

  • Rob

    Headlights should be on at all times. Cuz visibility.

  • Nato Coles

    It all depends on what you think of when you think “worst” drivers. Are the worst drivers the most dangerous because they’re inattentive? The most aggressive? The most bumbling? Chicago drivers are incredibly aggressive but they at least understand the zipper merge concept – how many times have we seen Twin Cities drivers line up in one loooonnnnnng line leading up to a lane end/merger because of some mistaken notion that it’s “not fair” to drive to the merger point in the lane that is free of traffic? Come on, people, the zipper merge is science! Twin Cities drivers may not be the most aggressive but I have lived in Milwaukee (which means I’ve driven a ton in Chicago), New York City, and the Twin Cities, and I’ve driven many hours in several other large metropolitan areas travelling with my band, and while I wouldn’t be able to cite statistics, I would argue that Twin Cities drivers are just about as bad at the actual skill of driving in traffic as any I’ve seen, maybe worse, and although drivers everywhere are inconsiderate to pedestrians, I think only Los Angeles of all the places I’ve driven a ton has drivers who are less concerned about those in crosswalks. I have thoughts! Disclaimer: I’m not saying that I’m a perfect driver, just reporting what I’ve seen around the USA.

    • Rob

      The worst drivers tend to be a combination of inattentive and aggressive. Clueless drivers are also high on the list.

    • Ben Chorn

      I grew up in Minnesota, spent 7 total years in Montana, and have now been in Chicago for 3.

      Montana has very bad drivers largely due to some people going into cities when their hometown doesn’t even have a stoplight. Montana also has a very bad problem with drunk driving they refuse to do anything about.

      The one thing I have noticed about Chicago drivers is they are predictable. To me that is the most important part of driving. Most of the time I know I am going to get cut off, so I can expect it. I don’t see as much hesitation in drivers in Chicago as I have in Minnesota. As for pedestrians, Chicago has a lot of “no turn on red when pedestrians are present” or no turn on red from 7 am to 7 pm.

  • Mike Stevens

    >>As long as we’re on the subject again, here’s another request. When it’s raining, and you can barely see the road in front of you despite the constant pounding of the windshield wipers, can you maybe turn on your lights?<<

    I still blink my lights at cars that should have them on but don't. I've noticed that there are a lot of people (the majority in my case) that either don't care or don't know what it means based on the fact that they do not turn them on. Not sure if that is regional or just 2018. When I first starting driving (25YO in IN) l it was common courtesy and universally understood.

    • I do that as well…

    • RBHolb

      There is an urban myth about this that has had a surprising run. According to the myth, gang members will drive with their headlights off, as a part of an initiation ritual. To complete their initiation, they are required to shoot the person who flashes his or her lights at them.

      I still here from people who believe this.

      • Mike Stevens

        I always heard the tale told as the brights. That was fax spam when it started.

    • HawkEye

      I’m thinking that it has more to do with automatic headlamps that anything else. I know I need to physically turn my lights on in the rain, usually too bright outside for them to trigger

    • Bobby Loomis

      It’s actually a state law!

  • wjc

    My pet peeve is the driver who signals a turn after the traffic light has turned green and they are about to turn. People! The idea is to signal before you turn, so people will know what you are PLANNING to do, not what you are doing at the moment.

  • Dj Horton

    Grew up and learned to drive in Southern California. Convinced that many MN drivers live in their own little world, completely oblivious to the other drivers around them. And my theory can be somewhat substantiated after a big snow storm, I’m sure you’ve seen this: windshield – only 1/2 clear of snow. Side windows – covered in snow. Back window – covered in snow. Headlights – covered in snow. Brake lights – covered in snow. Roof – covered in snow causing its own mini blizzard as they drive down the freeway.

    And then there’s the 4-way stop. It’s not calculus, people.

  • Brian Simon

    But I’m not seeing evidence here supporting the allegation that our drivers are worse. Going back to the study, the curious piece of data that went undiscussed was the column about panic stops (they called it something else). Our rate of those is relatively low, but the rate of claims is high. Does that just mean we don’t hit the brakes before colliding with things? Or is there perhaps more to the story than the headlines imply?

  • Elward

    Why is this a surprise? It’s well known that Minnesotans can’t merge, that whole get up to speed before you get to the end of the ramp thing, leave a space between you and the car in front of you, Nope. And the Zipper? so why is this news to anyone.

  • Tom Parker

    Is weather (snow) taken into account on these scores? Much easier to drive with clear roads.

  • Jerry

    I think the high rate of accidents is because, compared to other large metropolitan areas, we have relatively free flowing traffic. It’s hard to have a major accident when your car is barely moving.