Those Crazy Florida Drivers: Rep. Alan Grayson Hits a Bus

Health Care Overhaul Grayson
Former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson

When former Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) hit the side of an Orlando transit bus earlier this month, it’s doubtful he meant to give opponents in his race to represent a newly drawn Congressional district rich deposits of metaphors to mine. But boy, did he.

  • Nat Sillin, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee: “If you thought the only thing reckless about Alan Grayson was his big-government, tax-and-spend agenda, think again. It turns out on the road to destroying jobs, he’s endangering innocent bystanders in more ways than one.”
  • Mark Oxner, Republican running for the new Dist. 9 seat: “Alan Grayson’s driving record is bad, but his voting record is even worse. His progressive policies would run our economy under the bus. His driving may be a threat to our streets, but his political views are a threat to our future. One of the scariest things you can hear: ‘I’m Alan Grayson, I’m from the government, and I’m driving over to help.'”
  • Dave Barry on Florida: ‘Everybody drives in the left lane, at speeds ranging all the way from Indianapolis 500 down to Car Wash’
  • Julius Melendez, Republican also running for the new Dist. 9 seat: “[Grayson’s] imperfect driving isn’t the important issue in this race. My driving record isn’t perfect either, but…If the voters of District 9 vote for him, he’ll drive the budget and our future the way he drives his Mercedes Benz.”

Critics point to a history of vehicle violations that might be considered excessive outside of Florida, where according to humorist and Florida resident Dave Barry, the state “automatically issues a driver’s license to every new arrival, including stranded whales. We have so many motorists driving into buildings down here that in some areas you’re safer standing in the middle of the street, where they’re less likely to hit you.”

So, for Grayson’s home state, his nine citations over 17 years is a little anemic, especially when you consider that only three of them were in Florida (the others were in Virginia) and most of the rest would not even be violations here. For example, in 2002, Grayson was charged in Loudoun County, Virg. for allowing his vehicle inspection to expire. Florida did away with vehicle inspections decades ago.

Grayson’s first ever ticket was given when he passed on the right in Arlington County, Virg. Again, Dave Barry describes the Florida method.

The driving public here apparently believes that there is some kind of deadly voodoo curse on the right lane, so everybody drives in the left lane, at speeds ranging all the way from Indianapolis 500 down to Car Wash. This means that if you get behind somebody traveling at, say, Funeral Procession speed, and you want to pass, you have to disregard the driver’s manual, risk the voodoo curse and use the right lane…

And then there’s Grayson’s 1999 ticket for improper backing in Fairfax County. Really, Virginia? Barry explains how we do it in Florida:

You take a motorist who, while attempting to pull out of a parking space, mistakes ”forward” for ”reverse,” then, in an effort to correct this error, mistakes the accelerator for the brake and sends his car (an Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme) lunging across a sidewalk and into a restaurant, attaining a speed of 37 miles per hour by the time it rams the salad bar and is engulfed by a wave of the house dressing (a creamy Italian). Even as the paramedics are tweezing chickpeas from the ears of this motorist, he will loudly insist that (a) the restaurant was not there before; and (b) there are PLENTY of people on the road who do not drive as well as he does.

Fortunately, Grayson’s Mercedes sustained the most serious damage in his run-in with the bus, although three passengers were treated for minor injuries. What the crash will do for his campaign remains to be seen. No doubt Grayson is glad he didn’t run a railroad warning signal so at least opponents can’t label it a train wreck.

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