This state sits in the southeast of America, being slightly larger than average in terms of land, but slightly under average in terms of population. In part, this mismatch is due to the long-term economic hardship of a subtropical state that, for many generations, was dependent on agriculture to pay the bills. This was always slightly problematic because of the boll weevil, a pest that slowly persuaded farmers to stop growing cotton and switch to crops these insects did not eat. During the last sixty years, the economy has been diversifying into manufacturing. As a curious fact, workers in Alabama manufactured the rockets used in the Moon Program. Consequently, the standard of living is improving and net emigration is slowing (between 2010 and 2012, population increased by 0.9%). People stay even though the state remains one of the most dangerous places to live — it has reported more tornadoes than any other state.
Alabama is historically significant because the capital city, Montgomery, was effectively the capital of Confederate States with the first Confederate flag flown in the state in 1861. This meant the state was heavily committed in the Civil War both in terms of manpower and logistical support. But because of its distance from the front line, it escaped much of the land-based campaigns and battles were few. Although the state was represented by African Americans in Congress immediately the War ended, 1875 saw the first laws introducing de facto segregation which persisted until the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Starting with the Gulf Coast in the south, the state somewhat improbably cedes all but thirty-two miles of sand and shore to Florida and so reduces the number of options for a family vacation to the few cities or the plains, some of which are forested. With the Mississippi to the west, most people head for the national parks. The most unusual claim to fame is the five-mile crater made by a meteor strike just north of capital city Montgomery. Sadly, you missed the explosive arrival of the meteor about 80 million years ago, but seeing the hole it left is impressive. There are about 22 million tourists a year, spending about $8.3 billion and maintaining just over 160,000 jobs. Most tourists drive, looking either for blues or barbecues offering a variety of different sauces to tickle the palate. Groups of different political persuasions also come to remember the Civil War and the legacy of the Confederacy, while other come to recall moments in the civil rights campaigns to repeal the Jim Crow laws.
According the the last census, there are 4.8 million people. The Alabama Department of Revenue reports that it registered 1.54 million vehicles in 2012 which is below the national average for vehicle ownership as a percentage of population. All these people have 94,311 miles of public roads to drive on. In the last year for which there are detailed statistics, there were 123,700 accidents reported with more than 90,000 in the urban areas. Sadly, 848 people died and 35,153 were injured. Per head of population, this makes Alabama the third most dangerous state in which to drive. Worse, when you look at the amount of time the people injured lost from work, the economic cost to the state in 2011 was $1.07 billion. However, it’s not all bad news. The trend is actually improving. There were 1,120 deaths in 1990. In 2008, this fell to 966 deaths, a 13% reduction. The motor manufacturers were slowly improving the safety of their products and more people began using their seat belts. As a result, fewer people were dying even though the number of crashes has remained reasonably consistent. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests a better level of drunk driving laws would probably further reduce the number of crashes.
Motor vehicle registration
To get a certificate of title, you have to apply through a Designated Agent which includes all motor vehicle dealers, some financial institutions, and so on. In 2007, the Motor Vehicle Division of the Alabama Department of Revenue rolled out the Electronic Title Application Processing System. This is an online process for agents to use when applying for a title or title transfer. The idea is to speed up the process and to reduce costs by allowing the Department of Revenue to collect the registration fees by direct debit rather than through a check. The fee is $15 with agents allowed to add $1.50 as their commission for processing the application.
What do local people drive?
Given the higher car insurance rates for comprehensive cover, most local people avoid Chevrolets and Fords wherever possible. Each manufacturer contributes three of the top ten most stolen cars: Chevrolet pick-up, Caprice and Impala; Ford F150 Pickup, Explorer and Taurus. The most popular car for people to drive is the Toyota Camry which is not so surprising. The Camry has been the best-selling car in America for the last ten years. Because of the relatively weak performance of Alabama’s economy, there’s a premium on vehicles that are reliable with as little spent on maintenance as possible. It’s also less popular with thieves. Hence, Toyota wins the hearts and wallets of local people.
Do You Know that…
1. The workers in this state built the rockets that send Americans to the Moon.
2. There are more tornadoes reported in this state than any other.
3. This state only has thirty-two miles of beach on the Gulf.
4. Per head of population, this state has the third worst record in America for deaths on the road.
5. ETAPS allows agents to apply for title registrations online.
6. The Toyota Camry is the most popular car for people to buy.
7. From 1/1/2013, OIVS allows the state to verify people are insured before it issues a license plate.
8. This state is the 37th most expensive for car insurance.
9. The graduated driver licensing program has reduced the number of teen injuries and deaths.
10. Accidents with any personal injuries or damage costing more than $250 to repair must be reported within 30 days.