“Turn signals are a sign of weakness”
– Jenni Beigh MacDonald
This famous quote by one of my esteemed colleagues tells it all for a seasoned big city driver. I tend to be conservative when it comes to the roadways in spite of the fact that I participate in some higher risk sports. However, behind the wheel of an automobile, I tend to be very careful. I am a right lane hugger in most cities. Even though I have driven in most of the major cities in this country many times, I tend to rely on the I-Phone directions and conservatively ride the right lane.
Let’s start with the east coast. Boston- forget about it. Definitely the country’s most aggressive drivers. Storrow Drive is like the Twilight Zone. Moving to the NYC Metro areas and New Jersey- my knuckles start to get white by gripping the steering wheel as I arrive in the vicinity of the Garden State. I tell my sister, who lives in New Jersey, that they are not good enough to drive that fast. No wonder there are 26 car pileups on 76 East. I leave three car spaces between me and the guy in front of me. But in NYC or NJ, those drivers wedge their way in front of me like I left the space for them? This leaves 2 inches of space between cars and if anyone hits the brakes, big pileup. The L.I.E- fuggheddabaddit.
Atlanta- they drive like it is NASCAR. Weaving in and out like their hero Dale Earnhart and leaving me helpless in the slow lane. Plus you have the transplants- New Yorkers pretending to be from Atlanta. Chicago- way too much traffic and construction. You get worn out just driving around. Bumper to bumper and construction everywhere. Denver in the winter on I-70 is either a parking lot or a blinding snow storm right in front of the Eisenhower Tunnel. One time last year- it was a white out and as I sat there, the heater brought in fumes from the cars in front of me relative to the new laws in Colorado. Hey- traffic? Light one up for the team.
Then we move to LA. Tons of traffic and no regard for the speed limit whatsoever. 6 lanes of traffic on either side of the highway and a half hour to Laguna Beach becomes an hour and a half before 10:00 am after 3:00 PM. If you want to see something nice, you have to pay the price.San Francisco- I am terrified of the Bay Bridge and either I talk myself over the hump to Oakland, or I drive 19 miles to the south to take the more civil San Mateo Bridge. I find that the older I get the more acrophobic and claustrophobic I become as I try to keep it between the white lines on those amazingly high bridges and guide my way in the right lane of a tunnel praying for the other end to come and not to bounce off the walls. Ridiculous.
I do have some shortcomings as a driver. My wife and son claim that the more I talk,the slower I drive. It drives them crazy but I make my point when showing them sites of interest along the way. I engage in a conversation and the foot in perfect harmony backs away from the accelerator.
It is a good thing I have four wheel drive because I tend to drive even more conservatively in the winter. I will venture out of the comfort zone to pass a stuck driver on a hill or venture over the snow hump between lanes but again, tend to drive slowly in the right lane and let the crazies fly by me. I see them later stuck in the berms or sideways in the road, and I always point out the folly of their way to my family as they raise their eyes in ridicule.
My friend Norm from Chicago will not let me drive. He gets too frustrated but I hit the imaginary brake frantically when he drives as he looks at me over the top of his glasses, explaining something to me in a rain storm driving 90 MPH on the I-55. Scary!!!
So, you probably would not relish a road trip with me because it may take longer to get to the destination. However, I have a good safety record and you could probably sleep with me at the wheel and feel ok. Jenni, Norm, and others-I would sleep with one eye open. My opinion- drive safely and arrive alive. Thanks for reading.