This state is the extreme opposite of Alaska and California, being almost the smallest in physical size with 4,845 square miles, but with a relatively high population of 3.4 million. This makes it the fourth most densely populated US state with 703 people per square mile and 79% living in urban areas. A part of the reason for this slightly unusual balance is its physical closeness to New York. Indeed, three of its eight counties are included in the New York metropolitan area. This explains why economists and, to some extent, politicians, refer to this as the Tri-State area, i.e. New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. For some reason not immediately obvious, Pennsylvania’s contribution is ignored and prevent the area being called Quad-State.
For those into history, the derivation of Connecticut is the Algonqian name for the river as understood by the French who, with the Dutch, were the first to settle the area. Quinetucket means “long tidal river”. Having been one of the Thirteen Colonies to revolt against British rule, it has built up both a very strong maritime infrastructure and, in more recent decades, a very strong financial service industry. This makes the state unusual for two reasons:
• it has no direct coastline nor access to the sea without passing through waters controlled by New York and Rhode Island; and
• it has not only the highest per capita income in America, but also the widest wealth gap between the rich and the poor.
Outside the cities, there are extensive forests and the state joins the Appalachian National Park. In climate terms, there’s quite high humidity and, during the summer months, subtropical temperatures. But the winters can be cold with heavy snowfall in the higher parts of the state. More generally, the state is prone to violent thunderstorms during the summer and tropical cyclones can affect the area.
Given so many people with high incomes living in this state, there has been intensive road building. In total, there are 20,845 miles of road with 346 miles of interstate, and only 69 miles of railroad track. Indeed, at 117 miles, there’s more inland waterway available for transport. The population of 3.4 million owns 2 million automobiles and 802,000 light trucks, i.e. 0.8 vehicles per person. To help the less advantaged, there are 11,000 buses with a major project underway to improve the service between Hartford and New Britain. For commercial transport and moving the wealthy around, there are 103,000 boats (and ferries across the Long Island Sound and the Connecticut River). When it comes to commuting, 90% use their own vehicles or share, 4.5% use public transport, 2.5% walk, 0.7 use bicycles, and the remainder work at home. Because so many people work in New York, the I-95 is the most congested road in America producing serious delays at peak periods. Because drivers were impatient and insisted on crashing into the toll plazas, thereby causing even more delays, the tolls were removed in 1988.
Perhaps it should not be surprising with such an upwardly mobile state, that the most popular vehicle exiting dealers showrooms is the Honda CR-V. These days, crossovers have been increasing in popularity so this newly designed model is growing its sales dramatically. It comfortably beats off the competition from the Nissan Rogue and Honda Civic.
New driving law
Because of the volume of snow which can fall during the winter months, January 1, 2014 sees a new law spreading its scope to include the drivers of all vehicles on public roads. Over the years, many people have been injured when frozen chunks of snow and ice have flown off vehicles while in motion. There are now fines up to a maximum of $1,250 for any vehicle to drive on to the public roads with accumulations of snow and ice on their trunks, hoods and roofs. You avoid liability if the snow does not begin to fall until after the journey has begun.
Issues of contemporary concern
Connecticut is the seventh oldest state for average age. About one-third of its current population fits into the Boomer Generation. With the population aging fast, the state has been re-examining its policies on older drivers. One of the most important problems is the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. This is both progressive and does not respond to treatment. It currently affects more than five million Americans. The state estimate some 70,000 individuals currently have Alzheimer’s or one of the other forms of dementia. The reality is more people will succumb over the next decade. One of the aspects of this rising public health crisis is the loss of independence when it’s no longer possible to drive. More than 70% of people in nursing and other long-term care homes has some form of cognitive limitation. If the state more aggressively tests the competence of older drivers, more will be forced into care with major implications for public funding.
Do You Know that…
1. Three of its eight counties are included in the New York metropolitan area. This explains why economists and, to some extent, politicians, refer to this as the Tri-State area.
2. It has a very strong naval tradition but no coastline.
3. A major project is underway to improve the bus service between Hartford and New Britain.
4. January 1, 2014 extends the law to include the drivers of all vehicles who drive vehicles with snow and ice on the hood, truck or roofs.
5. Connecticut was the first state to enact a financial responsibility law.
6. Because of the wealth gap and the lack of regulation, Connecticut is one of the most expensive states for car insurance.
7. There’s an absolute ban on all drivers under the age of 18 using any hand-held technology.
8. The state has switch from at-fault to no-fault and back to at fault car insurance.
9. The Stand Down program offers free legal advice to veterans.
10. Any quantity of drugs in the blood stream confirms a conviction for DWI.