Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Driving me crazy

Something that has always been interesting to me is the vast differences when driving in other states. Sure, we all live in the same country, we all get fat at McDonald's together, and we all cheer for the Red Sox (at least those of us with good taste, anyway). But when it comes to getting behind the wheel of our cars, we become something else entirely.

So, I thought I'd take this chilly fall day and share my thoughts on local drivers in the states we've lived in. Hopefully, it will help you, if you ever find yourself in any of these places.

Utah:

In Utah, if you want to change lanes, don't put your blinker on. For, you see, a blinker doesn't signal your desire to change lanes. It actually means the vehicle in the next lane over should immediately speed up, in order to prevent you from getting in front of him. Do not be surprised when you see lots of middle fingers pointed your direction in Utah.

But take heart, for when you arrive at your destination (likely the church Halloween party), you will discover the other driver is actually in your ward. You can thank him personally for the nice, friendly greeting he sent you on I-15.

Minnesota:

Minnesotans brag about being "Minnesota Nice." That definitely doesn't apply to driving. What you most need to be wary of is the chain smoking, coffee chugging, big haired old lady. She WILL run you down in her pink Mary Kay Cadillac. These are hearty people used to living in an inhospitable frozen tundra eight months out of the year. They know how to drive on a sheet of ice without fear. There is no mercy on the road in Minnesota.

Boston:

Boston is a scary place to drive. The drivers there have decided that the vehicle trying to make a left-hand turn onto a busy street actually has the right of way. There's no law that says this, but they have declared it so, and everyone does it.

And if have the gall to NOT stop your vehicle in the middle of the street to let them turn left (you know, because that seems like the safest thing to do when going 40 mph), they will pull out anyway. They will ram your car, yell at YOU, and miraculously not pronounce the letter "R" once.

Washington:


Seattle drivers were a wee bit obsessed with the carpool lane. So much so, that it was a pretty frequent occurrence to see a single driver in that lane, with a blow-up doll in the front seat. I was actually pulled over once for driving in that lane, but not given a ticket because I had my two small children with me, who were not visible in their car seats. When driving in Seattle, beware any old clunker plastered with Kurt Cobain stickers. The driver is undoubtedly hopped up on Starbucks, has not showered in a week, and would probably ram your car if he saw you using a styrofoam cup.

California:

Oy. California. Your best bet is to go 40 miles per hour OVER the speed limit, and drive defensively to avoid any accidents. Because chances are, you'll be the one to hit the Bentley, and they've definitely got more money to sue you with. Trust me when I tell you, the last place you want to be is between a giant pimped out Hummer, driven by a hungry anorexic woman, and her Botox appointment. She will crush you. And she will not care.

Missouri:

Missouri drivers are unlike ANY I have seen anywhere else. They don't actually go the speed limit here, they go S-L-O-W-E-R. It is SO ANNOYING. I am no speeder, but when I'm the fastest one on the freeway, you know something is wrong. The people here drive like every day is a leisurely Sunday drive. They look, this way and that, slow their car down to check out the homes, trees, dogs, and sky. I am doomed to be forever behind a slow car here.

So, internets, what are the drivers like where you live?

45 comments:

Jessica said...

Hi Christie ~ I've been reading your blog for a few weeks now and thought I'd officially introduce myself! I live in West Sound (just across the water from Seattle) and I thought you should know that I spit my coffee all over my computer screen when you described the Seattle driver! You NAILED it! :) (oh, and it *wasn't* Starbucks coffee I was drinking!!) hahaha!
Have a good one! ~Jessica

Kimberly said...

Hilarious. When I moved from CA to Utah I didn't understand why people weren't driving faster when there was no traffic. Didn't they know to close the gap?!?!? And in CA, don't forget the "hail Mary merge." If you need to change lanes, just go and there will be room for your car. Here in UT people need 6 car lengths of space to change lanes. You nailed UT exactly! I might want to kill myself driving in Missouri.

Michael said...

I'm trying to get Utah to adopt the "change lanes, then signal" rule that I learned in California. I think I use it more in Utah, though, because we all know what happens when I signal before I change lanes... You sure hit Utah and California on the nose.

Christina B. said...

You are spot on for Boston and Utah!! You described EXACTLY what happened to me when I was hit by another driver in Boston... did that happen to you too? Yikes!

Oh, and how about pedestrians? I swear in Cambridge that the pedestrians wait until the drivers have the right of way to step out right in front of your car. My greatest fear is that I'm not going to see one one of these days. And Steve found it fascinating that in Seattle the pedestrians actually wait at crosswalks (like probably the rest of the country!).

Betty said...

You brought me out of lurking for this one....
If you were to drive in Filadelfia, Paraguay you would be shaking your head.
There are lots of people on motorcycles ( no helmuts needed here) and mostly you just drive like you are alone. At least that´s what it feels like. Paraguayen drivers are very inconsiderate and at a stoplight everyone wants to be first, so in a two lane road, there can be like 4 people standing in front.....

Alissa said...

Ah Florida.

Where the speed limit on the freeway is 50. To accomodate the old folks, ya know. And yet, people don't even go quite that fast.

Rae said...

It is always a highlight in my day to read your posts! My most memorable living location would be Italy and the way drivers would alert you they were coming. They would honk their horns when going around sharp corners on narrow streets and steep cliffs . As if you would be able to get out of their way!

Heed said...

I've always wondered if it was true about Utah drivers. Since I am one, I don't really see one from an outsider's point-of-you.
Truth is... I'm always late, which means I always speed, I always have road rage, I always run yellow lights, and I finally park in whatever crooked fashion I need to in order to be at my doctor's appointment ONLY ten minutes late.
I know that you, Stie, are ALWAYS stinkingly on time. I don't know how to get that trait, but until then, I'm probably your worst enemy on the road. BUT, I'd love to take care of your kids in Nursery once we've all made it safe and sound to the church!

Dalene said...

Don't have much to say about my current state, Pennsylvania, but New Jersey has GOT to be the worst driving state, ever. The hairy-chested, gold chain-wearing Guidos actually honk at you to go BEFORE the light even turns green. They must be late for their beer-drinking softball game. And don't even get me started on the jug handles and circles.

HILLARY said...

Thank you for a good laugh! What about Florida?

Annemarie said...

I've lived in three of those places & you NAILED it!! Especially Utah...more middle fingers here than I've ever wanted to see.

♥Shally said...

How right you ARE!!!

Don't forget that in Utah everyone drives SUV's and minivans, so we all think we own the road.

Dancin Queen said...

Spot on.

Melissa Walker said...

I'd say the Chicago drivers rival the California and NY drivers! They drive fast and determined and expect you to or get off the tollway. In the city, you better just get aggressive because those cabbies will run you over if you're not. Even my brother was impressed with my driving skills down Michigan Ave!

Jane @ What About Mom? said...

Reminds me of the only part of a Woody Allen movie that I remember (think it's in Annie Hall?) -- where he says that the only thing California has over NYC is that they allow people to turn right on a red.

Driving in Japan was a lot easier than I thought it would be. Sure, they drive on the wrong side of the road, but they're really polite and orderly about it.

queenieweenie said...

Kudos on the best daily giggle I've had in a long time!

Terra said...

OMG! We live in Colorado so to pictures our roadways combine all your states add the odd habits of the other 44 states and VOILA you have the worst driving conditions in the USA. There seem to be very few Colorado Natives...so at any given time you have the Californian going 100 in a 60 on icy roads when the guy from Boston decides to take the right of way and go left in front causing Cali Man to Bang right into Missouri Slowpoke and sending middle fingers flying from the UTAH guy passing on the shoulder!

Terra

Kimberly said...

Cedar City drivers sound like Missouri drivers. It drives me crazy! In California I could never keep up, now I'm the fast one on the road!

Christy said...

Here in CT I think the worst thing is the new interpretation of the red light. It no longer means "stop", it means "you better keep going at normal speed so the people that have the green light don't proceed through the intersection".

Lindsey said...

Arizona... it actually has symptoms of Utah, California, Massachusets and even Seattle, because everyone is a transplant here.

andrea said...

been there, done that on all but minnesota. frighteningly accurate descriptions my friend.
but as a bawstonian, i take offense at yowa description. we like to refuh to it as "awfensive drivin." we drive awn the awfensive, so awl the otha moah-rans around us don't kill us. and theah is NOTHIN wrawng with that.

what i'd really love to see is one of those southeast missourians trying to drive around the government center district.

Jessica said...

The eastern side in Washington (where we live) totally drives like Missouri.

Ryan and I are always ZIPPING past everyone when we go the speed limit.

And Utah truly has the rudest drivers ever.

Beachy Mimi said...

Hilarious.

Michelle said...

LOL this is a really funny post! Love it. And very true about Utah drivers.

I live in St. George and you have to be VERY defensive here. We have a lot of older drivers (if you get my meaning) and they really don't see well. It truely is amazing that they even pass their driving test. So you just have to watch out for them. They will drive you off the road (it has happened to me more times then I wish to recall). And when it's the Senior games here in sunny St. George, you may as well plan on just staying at home. Trust me it's much safer.

Cindy said...

Hey
Boston drivers are the best!! At least they pay attention, when they drive. Arizona is the worst. They have more accidents here than anywhere, I swear. My favorite thing they do here is when your trying to pull out of a parking spot the car a mile away speeds up so you can't. Thanks Grandpa! Plus you have to love a place where in the winter 90% of the drivers are over 75.

Magnolia Sun said...

Those are so funny, I lived in Boston for 2 years and that is so true also agree with the California one - those road are insane!

Hazen5 said...

That is awesome! We Californians do love our SUVs. The biggest car always wins!

diane said...

Your descriptions are right on! I know that MN woman. Don't mess with her.

I may be the hungry woman in CA on her way to the Dermo for Botox. Although, it could be a massage appointment.

Anna said...

I laughed so hard at this post. I agree 100% with you. Those Boston drivers are rude. I took every infracton of their rude driving personally. Drivers here in Virginia are pretty normal and actually "share" the road.

CJ, the Purple Diva said...

Oh, I'm so glad you told me about all those places. Now I will know how to drive in those states...should I ever make it there!
This post was hysterical!
Not long till our birthday sista!

Lisa-Marie said...

In my part of Idaho it's not uncommon to share the road with cows and tractors. They both go VERY slow. I was once late to an IEP meeting when I taught school because I was stuck in a cattle drive. Great thing was...no one doubted me!

Diane said...

Do you have those lovely two lane country roads that have no left turn lanes? It's a white knuckle ride even if traffic is light. You can't take your eyes off the road for even a second for fear you'll go off the edge of the road that HAS NO SHOULDER. And yes...I'm a city girl gone country, and trying to get the hang of S-L-O-W. I've also learned the definition of the red light is to speed up and go through it. Oh and we don't have freeways here...they're "interstates"...get it right!!

Sally said...

I loved this post. I live in LA now and what you wrote about CA drivers was spot on.

danandcindy said...

How did you like Boston? I heard that Boston is a really nice state.

Retard...

TravelinOma said...

The only time I've ever flipped the bird myself was on the freeway in SLC. I was behind some ancient couple who couldn't decide which lane they were in. The little old guy was barely visible above the steering wheel. I found out later they were my son-in-law's grandparents. I keep my hands hidden so they won't ever recognize my rude finger.

Lauren in GA said...

Every word of this post was pure gold!

I was really surprised that Utah drivers flip the bird more than any other state...I guess I am a naive East Coast Mormon. I did laugh heartily about the other driver being in your ward.

When I served a mission in Houston I dreaded driving. There they said a red light means, "Go" and a green light means, "Stop and make sure you don't get hit by all of the knuckleheads running the red light."

You crack me up...such spot on commentary.

kathi said...

I remember someone who was irritated when the undercover policeman stopped in front of her and she hit his car, and was adament it was his fault because he stopped. Seen her on the road anywhere lately? I miss her..........

Holly said...

LOL!!!! I've lived in California and Utah and you nailed it. I can now add Idaho: where people drive big trucks and no one wears their seatbelt. On the freeway, the open back of the truck is filled with kids and dogs. In town, if it's not a truck then it's an SUV filled with kids. No matter that there aren't enough seats or seatbelts, just pile them all in and go. And then you get to the 4-way stop where everyone sits and looks at each other because no one knows the actual rules for a 4-way stop. And if it's a roundabout, they all treat it as a 4-way stop, but no one knows when to go. Oi!

gab said...

This could be a magazine article! So funny.

Um...this is the land of minivans. The streets and parking spots are just too teeny for SUVs. No complaints on the drivers, unless I am lost in Trenton. Yikes.

Anonymous said...

Ah... WV. What to say about "Almost Heaven" - Wild Wonderful WV, which is correct in almost every instance except the roadway. For some reason, drivers in WV tend to forget what they are doing on the roadway because they are so busy with cell phones, blackberries, GPS systems, books on their steering wheels and a Happy Meal sprawled out on their lap. And in most cases, the value of said techno crap is typically more than the value of the hoopty they are driving. Add all that to a 70 mph interstate and you've got a recipe for disaster. Oh, and in the case of construction where people are "encouraged" to merge because of a lane closing, it is not uncommon for most cars to stay in their lane and travel in it until the last.possible.second. and then expect all of the other drivers to hail to them and allow them to merge when they are out of roadway. I guess I should mention that this happens to be one of my biggest pet peeves. So, yeah, "Wild, Wonderful, West Virginia."

Ilene said...

Ah, I have blogged about Idaho drivers so I won't repeat myself. When living in Oregon, I found that Oregonians love their political and envirnomental bumper stickers; preferably stuck on some kind of Subaru wagon or VW.

Marie said...

You were probably behind my husband...he gets accused of driving like a Grandpa and now that he's in a Buick Le Sabre, it's acceptable. He now longer gets honked at or flipped off. Sad to say, I have adopted most of his driving habits.

The only vehicles that seem to speed down the highway here are the huge semi-trucks that will run you over if you are in the way.

wenderful said...

You were so right about CA drivers. We lived there for ten years and that's where I learned all my awesome driving skillz. I don't have many opportunities to use them here in rural Idaho since I don't encounter many other drivers. But I did manage to avoid a chicken that flew out in front of me the other day. And I occasionally have to swerve away from various produce falling from the farm truck in front of me. Does that count?

Tribe M said...

That was so hilarious! You nailed them all, but I especially enjoyed Utah and California because those are my two most recent states I've resided in. Loved it!

Kristy said...

I am LMBO!!! The comments were priceless, too! I grew up in FL. Small town, Idaho-type drivers in most of Florida, especially North Florida where some actually drive their Scooter CHAIRS on the road!!! But watch out in the metro areas like Jacksonville...when merging onto the interstate from an on ramp, just floor it & get over. They WILL make room. Oh yeah, & there's usually a car on fire on one of the 7 bridges, especially the Buckman. South Fl is another planet entirely...northern drivers w/o the snow & ice. LOVE GA, except for the interstates ALWAYS being under construction, & when in Atlanta, be sure & stay in the left lane until right before you need to exit...then shoot across all 5 or 6 lanes to get off!