Twin Cities drivers: not above average

MnDOT

No shock that Boston “won” this one. Tim  Harlow of the Strib says, “Allstate recently came out with its annual ranking of the best drivers in America, and Twin Cities motorists didn’t fare so well. As a group, we’re becoming much more crash prone. Minneapolis drivers are likely to get in a collision once every nine years — 11 percent above the national average of once every 10 years. Motorists in St. Paul were likely to be involved in a mishap every 8.4 years, or 15.1 percent above the national average. … The results can give bragging rights to drivers in places such as Kansas City, which replaced Fort Collins, Colo., as the safest driving city in America. Meanwhile, those in Boston, who were more likely to get in a crash than drivers anywhere else, might feel a bit of shame.”

Hey milfoil, the door’s open. For the Strib, Shannon Prather writes, “The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is slashing the money it gives to dozens of cities and lake groups to treat aquatic invasive species, including Eurasian milfoil, on more than 100 lakes. The DNR grant program that awarded $675,000 this year will cut its offerings to $200,000 next year for budget reasons, according to Wendy Crowell, its ecological resources grants coordinator.”

Also felled by the budget axe … invention. The Redwood Falls Gazette tells us, “After 58 years, the Minnesota Inventors Congress (MIC) Board of Directors has announced that it will cease operations of its programs. Due to state funding reductions, the 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations’ programs that include Inspire, the Inno-vation Expo; the Inventors Resource Center and the Minnesota Student Inventors Congress will not be available for inventors and entrepreneurs. The decision is effective immediately.”

Thank god! I had no idea where to go to get one. Roger Fingas of AppleInsider.com says, “Big-box retailer Target announced on Friday that the Apple Watch will go on sale at “some” U.S. locations this week, eventually coming to all of its stores across the country by Oct. 25. Shoppers will be able to order the device from Target.com starting on Oct. 18, the company added. This includes 20 models in 38- and 42-millimeter sizes, among them some of the newer styles introduced in September, such as faux rose gold.” Is the iWatch 2 or 3 out yet? I kind of lost track.

Growlers in Rochester. Says MPR, “The new law gives full-service liquor stores, brewpubs and small breweries the option to stay open until from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. Monday through Friday. City regulations already allowed for Saturday sales until 10 p.m. Rochester City Clerk Aaron Reeves says Brewpubs and small breweries can also sell beer in 64-ounce growlers, and 32-ounce growlers, from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. on Sundays.”

Better beer than green beans. The AP says, “General Mills is recalling 60,000 bags of its Cascadian Farm frozen green beans after one package tested positive for listeria, the second time this year the company has found the bacteria in its green beans. … The recall announced Friday is for 16-ounce bags of Cascadian Farm green beans with a ‘Better If Used By’ date of June 29, 2017. The bags were produced in June 2015.”

Our guy, Walter Palmer, the lion-killing dentist, got another dose of infamy in “Saturday Night Live’s” season premiere. He was included in the collection of people we hope never to hear anything about ever again.  

Bad weather for ducks. Sam Cook up at the Duluth News Tribune writes, “Duck hunters in Minnesota had a generally good opening weekend across the state, based on reports from state and federal wildlife managers, said Steve Cordts, waterfowl specialist for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. … Waterfowl stamp sales through opening weekend were 70,700 compared to 73,100 last year. Duck hunter numbers have been stable the past seven years, but remain at historic low levels.”

Also from Up North, Brady Slater, also of the News Tribune has some new info on that quite large bridge across an old mine pit on Highway 53. “It will be higher above the water than the Blatnik Bridge between Duluth and Superior. It will span 1,100 feet and be wide enough to carry motorists, snowmobilers, bicyclists and others across its expanse over a landscape both industrial and picturesque. It stands to be a vital commercial connection for the Iron Range and figures to become a tourist attraction in its own right, spanning the water-filled Rouchleau Pit.”

Fightin’ words. FoxSports reports (or re-tells), “The Green Bay Packers are going for a fifth straight NFC North title in 2015, and there’s not a lot of competition in the division to stop them. … The Minnesota Vikings, however, have overcome a season-opening loss to win their next two games in methodical fashion. Still, one unnamed NFL executive told Bob McGinn of the Journal Sentinel that the Vikings don’t have a real chance. ‘It’s a one-horse race,’ the scout said, per the Journal Sentinel. ‘The Vikings can’t hold Green Bay’s jock.’” Apparently in Wisconsin teams share the same one. Not sure how.

Catching up a bit. Here ‘s a recent post from Scott Johnson at PowerLine. “Early Thursday evening, before the dead had been counted, before their bodies were cold, before the relevant facts were known, President Obama chose to make a characteristically obnoxious statement on the shootings at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. … Why would Obama speak before the facts were known? It could be that he was seizing the opportunity to distract attention from the profound humiliation to which he and we have been subjected by Vladimir Putin this week. … Is there any issue on which Obama has made an argument that has tended to change minds in his favor? I can’t think of one offhand and I don’t think gun control, or gun confiscation, will be any different as long as we can make clear what he is talking about.”

Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 10/05/2015 - 08:34 am.

    A couple grains of salt

    …might be necessary regarding the Allstate accident report. This is the same company, I believe, whose agent told Tim Harlow earlier this year that a “safe driving distance” from the vehicle ahead of you at 60 mph was 4 seconds of elapsed time. Theoretically, they’re almost certainly correct (most passenger vehicles can come to a stop from 60 mph in well under 200 feet), but the distance they advocate is 352 feet, or very nearly the length of a football field *plus* both end zones. I’d like Allstate to tell us in their next accident report where the distance their agent advocated is possible to attain and maintain.

    Except, perhaps, at 3 AM, no metro area where I’ve lived over the course of 55 years of driving has had traffic so light that I could maintain that 4-second distance from the vehicle ahead of me. In the Twin Cities, I usually feel virtuous – from the highways safety standpoint –  if I’m able to maintain a one second distance from the car ahead of me, much less 4 seconds.

    With that pet peeve out of the way, I’ll say that, in rough terms at least, the report bears out my own driving experience.

    I lived and drove in Lakewood, CO for several years (#24 of 200 in the report), and will add that the city’s relatively high rank might be due to the skill of its drivers at crash-avoidance rather than a more positive “safe driving” attitude. Aggressive driving is an accepted (by the locals) Colorado driving trait, and the standard joke is: “How can you tell a vehicle is being driving by a Colorado driver? It’s the third one through the red light.”

    Experience over decades leads me to put metro St. Louis (#85 of 200) in the middle of the pack. Following too closely is more or less universal across the country, and is quite prevalent in the St. Louis metro.

    I only occasionally find myself in St. Paul (#121 of 200), so I can’t speak with any authority about the driving habits of its residents, or of the east metro, but northwestern Minneapolis (Minneapolis is not listed in the report online) and the associated ‘burbs in this corner of the metro feature the worst drivers of the three metro areas where I’ve lived. Younger ones (i.e., younger than my 71 years) are frequently inattentive/distracted. Older ones are equally dangerous, since timidity and a dislike of highway speeds make for a dangerous combination on the highways (MN 100, I-694 and I-94) that I use most often.

    • Submitted by David Wintheiser on 10/05/2015 - 10:43 am.

      Crazy MN drivers…

      Let’s begin by pointing out that hardly anybody drives Minnesota highways at the speed limit — my own personal aphorism is that “the speed limit is supposed to be an upper limit, not a lower limit,” but you’d be hard-pressed to prove that while driving on Minnesota highways and freeways, especially once you get out of the metro area.

      At 60 miles an hour (or a mile a minute), a following distance of one second is less than 100 feet; barely enough time to notice that the car ahead of you has slammed on the brakes before you ram them from behind. Unless you exclusively drive during rush hours, there’s going to be plenty of opportunities to get more than that amount of distance between you and the car ahead of you (though perhaps not to the car behind you).

      Between reaction time (which can add significantly to stopping distance at high speeds) and road conditions (which can add significantly to braking distance in Minnesota when roads are frozen or slick from rain), a 350 foot following distance is probably meant to be a safety margin for all possible conditions rather than a rule for ideal conditions; then again, given the tendency of most folks to drive faster than the speed limit (head west on 94 toward Rogers on a Saturday night and count the number of cars that pass you while you’re doing 75), it’s possible that the given guideline is as easily meant for typical lead-foot MN drivers than for those who might be travelling in any given weather condition.

  2. Submitted by Lyn Crosby on 10/05/2015 - 05:26 pm.

    Catching up a bit – Scott Johnson

    Scott, I do not agree with your snarky comment. I was proud of Obama’s statements about the most recent shooting and totally agree with him. The shootings have become routine, as have the media’s responses, citizens, and more. I fear unfortunately that this country will continue on this vicious, horrific path. Let’s hope neither you nor I ever have the experience of someone we love dying in such a shooting. It may change your experience and perspective.

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