December 30, 2009

Reality Show Spotlighting The Nation’s Most High-risk Drivers

America’s Worst Driver’ is coming to the Travel channel in 2010. Joining the latest craze of reality television, the show seeks to depict America’s worst drivers and people who cause auto insurance companies to cringe. Drivers selected for the show will become contestants to compete and determine who is the worst driver in the city. The first city on the list is Miami. In order to entice participants to be on the show, they will be eligible for prizes including free vacations and free gasoline. Participating cities for the show include Miami, Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, Dallas, San Francisco, Chicago and Boston.

According to the Miami Herald, ‘Contestants in the reality show competed in obstacle courses and driving challenges, with the worst driver losing his or her car at the end in a ball of flames.’ Every week, proven bad drivers will compete in several different road tests aimed at identifying who is that particular city’s worst driver. Seven out of eight of the participants deemed to be the worst drivers will receive a new car. This could prove costly to them, however, since they are at the top of the auto insurance risk rates. If they are truly horrible drivers, they could also pose serious risks to themselves and other drivers. A new car certainly will not help this situation. However, the show is not geared toward improving the participants’ driving skills, only at demonstrating the awful driving of these people. At the end, the absolute worst driver gets a lifetime bus pass rather than a new car. This might help reduce some auto insurance claims.

Based on a recent GMAC Insurance study, Washington ranks as second in the United States for states with the worst drivers. Florida ranked 40th, California was 14th, New York was 47th, Texas was 24th, Illinois was 22nd and Massachusetts was 48th. If these rankings are accurate, the show chose a vast array of cities to represent states from the top to the bottom of the scale. If they truly wish to look for America’s worst drivers based on this ranking, they should hold casting calls in Oregon, which came in as the number one state in the United States for America’s worst drivers.

The show might sound interesting. Unfortunately, the backlash from this type of show could have extremely negative consequences. Auto insurance companies could potentially raise rates in certain areas if enough ‘worst’ drivers prevail. The ‘winners’ of the show with new cars will still be classified as an auto insurance risk, but now face even more expensive auto insurance rates with new vehicles. Only time will tell if this new reality show will be a success.