Throughout my past two years of blogging about the quirks of the Midwest, driving in the area has been the subject of a few posts. Whether it is commenting on my first experience driving in snow, the glories of the season of road construction (known in other parts of the country as summer), or my first run-in with the law (which I have yet to live down), driving in the Midwest has not been without its adventures. While I know it seems a bit strange to ever complain about traffic in Fargo when I grew up learning to drive outside Washington, DC, I think I have gotten used to towns with one traffic light, drivers that rarely honk, and hardly ever having to pay to park. This being said, when I do run in to “traffic”, I tend not to stay as composed as I used to when I was stuck in an hour back-up five miles from my exit near DC.
This is why, when the clock strikes noon on a weekday, you will rarely find me driving in Downtown Fargo. It seems like everyone within a ten mile radius descends on Downtown Fargo for lunch and parking spots are few and far between. And as frequently as I have witnessed this remarkable and frustrating occurrence, it never ceases to amaze me at just how many cars there seems to be. This is even more evident this time of year as everyone throughout the state of North Dakota (and parts of Canada), come to West Acres Mall to do their holiday shopping.
As I passed the mall the other day, I remember making a comment, “Psh… its like there are more cars than people in this state!” And wouldn’t you know, I was correct. According to DMV.org (as well as a car insurance commercial I saw on TV recently), North Dakota does indeed have more registered vehicles than people. Based on the ever credible Wikipedia, North Dakota has 1,080 cars per 1,000 residents. This also does not even narrow down the figure to individuals that are actually of legal age to drive a car and have their license. This is even more shocking because can’t you get your license at about 15 in North Dakota?
Now, I understand that this figure is probably counting work trucks and maybe even farming vehicles. Since North Dakota has such a heavy dependence on agriculture, this actually makes a lot of sense. While I can rationalize all I want, unfortunately, this does not solve the problem of holiday season traffic and a somewhat scrooge-like Hailey behind the wheel.