Since I moved to St. Louis less than a year ago, I've been in three minor car accidents, none of which were my fault. My ride was hit while it was parked near the Loop, I was rear-ended at a stop light, and, most recently, one of those airport parking shuttles changed lanes without checking its blind spot and clipped my passenger side doors. Now I'm on a first name basis with the guys at the body shop.
I know it's cliché to say when you move somewhere new that the drivers are terrible, but I think I have a pretty legitimate case here. Given my experience, I can confidently contend that Missourians drive like savages.
I have often asked why. Initially I speculated the Mad Max impersonations were the result of a city-wide frustration at having so many useless stop signs and inefficient traffic lights. As I've gotten to know the area, however, I have come to strongly believe that everybody is driving shit-faced. With the piss-poor public transit and cab service and the city's unquenchable thirst for Budweiser, I always thought I had a pretty sound hypothesis.
On Wednesday, came vindication. The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released the results of a survey of more than 127,000 people across the nation, asking if they'd driven under the influence in the past three years.
Eighteen percent of Missourians admitted that yes, they'd driven drunk, making the Show-Me State the thirteenth worst booze-and-cruise state in the union. Wisconsin topped the list with a whopping 26.4 percent of the population saying they'd driven drunk. Not surprisingly, Utah, where the beer is 3.2 percent alcohol-by-volume, was the safest.
The study also asked about driving under the influence of ''illicit drugs'' such as marijuana, cocaine and prescription pills. Missouri fared slightly better here, with 5 percent of those surveyed saying they'd driven doped up, good for twentieth overall. I'm supposed to get my car back from the body shop tomorrow afternoon. I might ask them keep it a little longer and get it death-proofed.