I would be hard-pressed to argue that Alabama’s dropout rate for high school students isn’t directly related to the deplorable driving habits of many of the state’s citizens or that the lack of education doesn’t manifest itself in a myriad of other ways – low turn-out at voting polls and inability to understand the ballot, the high number of families who live at or below the poverty level relying on Medicaid, food stamps, and handouts, etc.

As a taxpayer I resent the amount taken out of my salary to support those families who lack the self-respect to work for a living, and as a rider, I shudder at the ignorance I see on the roads on a daily basis. I’ve been hit by an SUV because the driver was distracted, ran a red light, and turned across our lane. It’s not something I care to repeat. That carelessness is due in large part to a lack of education and inability to comprehend traffic laws coupled with a lack of self-respect and concern for fellow citizens.

Alabama’s overall dropout rate is 75%, but the graduation rate for some counties is far lower: Montgomery county: 64%; Butler 66%; Bullock 70%; Lowndes 67%; Pike 67%; and Dallas 71%. There were 16 high schools in AL in which the graduation rate was below 60% for the 2011/2012 school year. There were another 49 high schools in which the graduation rate was between 60 and 70%.

Is it any wonder that Alabama ranks in the top 10 of poorest states in the Union with these percentages of students who don’t finish high school? After substitute teaching for a year I venture to say most of those dropouts are barely literate. Why make any effort to learn when being brought up in an environment in which multiple generations have lived off of government assistance? Bide your time till you’re old enough to leave school and coast through life on the coat-tails of the rapidly dwindling middle class employees for yet another generation. When those of us in that middle class fall below the poverty line ourselves trying to support you, I’m sure the 1% of wealthy Americans will support us all. Really???

Alabama comes in at #4 on the list of poorest states in the union (7.3% unemployment, 19% below the poverty line), surpassed only by Mississippi, Arkansas, and West Virginia. Yet all the school board and legislators can do is argue over tax credits for families who want to remove their children from failing schools and enroll them in better schools.

Alabama ranks 8th in the nation for the worst drivers with 42 fatalities per million miles; 46th in ticketing; 29th for drunk driving; 41st for failure to obey traffic laws; and 7th for carelessness.

Everyday habits of making U-turns in busy traffic, trying to cross four-lanes of traffic without a traffic light in order to exit a parking lot; making a left turn from the right lane across the path of the driver in the left lane; running red lights; cutting drivers off when the road narrows from four lanes to two; speeding up so as not to let a driver change lanes; blocking traffic because you’re too stupid and self-centered to get out of the left lane and let cars pass; recklessly and repeatedly changing lanes in heavy traffic; parking illegally; etc. result in accidents, injuries, death, AND higher insurance rates. We all pay one way or another.

Use caution, try to anticipate the next move of drivers around you, wear safety gear whenever possible, and whether you have the right-of-way or not, if a driver seems oblivious to you, drop back and let them pass. Arrive safely at your destination because those who have the power to improve some of these situations are asleep at the wheel.