Taking the overview, Arkansas is completely landlocked, representing 52,068 square miles of southern America. This makes it the 27th largest state in physical land and, with 2.95 million people, the 32nd most populous with an average of 51 people per square mile. In terms of climate, the state is humid and subtropical during the summer, but winter can be cold. In a way, this reflects the geography. It is near enough the Gulf of Mexico for it to affect the weather with tornadoes, massive thunderstorms (marginally better than hurricanes) and ice storms. In the north where the land elevations are higher, ice and snow is common during the winter months. Because the state is not densely populated, there are only 97,600 miles of public roads and 656 miles of interstate. The railroad is slightly more extensive at 2,714 miles than in comparable states and inland waterways at 1,860 miles is also significant.
How many vehicles on the roads
As a state which, for generations, was dependent on agriculture, there are 951,000 automobiles and 859,000 light trucks registered which is 1.6 vehicles per person regardless of age. Hence, even though the slight majority of the population, i.e. 54%, is now living in towns and cities, the idea of the wide open spaces continues to influence the choice of vehicle to drive. Perhaps it should not come as a surprise that the most popular vehicle for people to buy in Arkansas is the Ford F-150 full-size pickup. Of course, popularity does not make it the best truck. But the reliability of the vehicle is its selling point. With people keeping their vehicles for longer, this truck needs less maintenance and breaks down less often. For the few who do not drive, there are 6,700 buses. When it comes to commuting, less than 1% of the population uses public transport, 2.7% uses a bicycle or walk to work, and 3% works at home.
Agriculture remains very important to the state’s economy. Arkansas remains a power growing cotton and timber, with rice, poultry and fish-farming big business. Because of this, trucking is an essential part of the economy. Some 15,000 heavy trucks are registered and move produce to the railroad, and to the Mississippi River, Arkansas River and the McCellan-Kerr Navigation System which move the produce further south.
Tourism in Arkansas
This is a state famed for its natural beauty. From the Ozark mountains in the north to the Delta flatland which have been formed by the Mississippi River, this is a state which attracts a significant number of people for “driving holidays”. This can be driving the state US 71 and Interstate 540 taking in the Boston Mountains and the highest part of the Ozarks. Or you can take off along the byways created by the US Forest Service within the Ozark National Forest. Going south on Interstate 530 takes drivers into bayou country and the wetlands corridor. If drivers tire of the unspoiled forests, rivers and lakes, there are also miles of caves and caverns which contain their own set of streams and lakes. When night falls, there are endless excellent places to eat and bluegrass music to enjoy. The Civil War also touched communities across the state and many of the places which saw action are open to visitors with associated museums.
The Office of Driver Services
This office is part of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration and is responsible for the ID card and the State Driver’s License program. This gives it responsibility for monitoring the Insurance Verification and Notification Network. Once a month, all the car insurance companies licensed to sell policies in the state must update the database with new policies issued and policies canceled. This should allow ODS to track whether the registered vehicles are properly insured. Failure to comply with the Financial Responsibility Law can result in fines and a suspension of the driver’s license.
The ODS is also responsible for tracking the number of traffic crashes so that black spots can be identified for road reconstruction. It researches the problems of fraud and identity theft as they affect the registration system. Facial recognition equipment may be introduced. It also reviews policy on how to deal with repeat offenders and those who seem to have serious problems of addiction but continue to drive. For example, from January 1, 2008, anyone proposing to employ a commercial driver must search the Arkansas Commercial Driver Alcohol and Drug Testing Database. Employers and medical review officers are required to notify the ODS if any employee fails or refuses a test, or submits an altered specimen. The database builds up a comprehensive history for all license holders. Rising above the administrative function, the ODS helps formulate policy on all aspects safety on the roads. The driver testing program is administered by the Arkansas State Police.
Do You Know that…
1. The climate is subtropical during the summer and it can snow during the winter.
2. Less than 1% of the population uses public transport.
3. There are major cave and cavern systems to explore.
4. It’s the responsibility of the Arkansas State Police to run the driver testing program.
5. You have to prove insurance when you apply to register your vehicle.
6. Passengers can be protected by their own car insurance policies and not have to rely on the liability cover held by the drivers.
7. Arkansas is the ninth most expensive state for car insurance.
8. To get an instruction permit, a young applicant must prove a GPA of at least 2.0.
9. The state sets a low 0.02% BAC limit for drivers under the age of 21 and 0.4% for drivers of commercial vehicles.
10. All drivers convicted of a DWI offense have to fit an ignition interlock device. If you plead hardship to avoid suspension of your driver’s license, you will have to use the interlock device for longer.