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Maniacs and Idiots: Driving Styles Around the United States

Updated on February 29, 2012
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Maybe you've heard it said, "anyone who drives slower than you is an idiot and anyone who drives faster must be a maniac" (George Carlin). Perhaps you've been called both an idiot and a maniac yourself - I can confidently say that is the case for me.

Within the United States the driving rules are generally the same, with slight variations from state to state. However, driving styles differ from coast to coast about as much as anything else in this country (such as accents, political views, and the social acceptance of facial hair on men, and women).

If you are planning a cross country road trip, thinking about becoming a trucker, or have a tendency to be labeled as a driver from a particular region (such as "A California Driver"), this article will not only be helpful for you, but quite likely NECESSARY for your future on the road.

As the cowboy roamed the open prairie on his loyal steed, so the modern American cruises across the great expanses between our cities in his loyal Mustang, Chevy, or SMART car. Although the style of transportation may continually change, the American passion for breaking free from the struggles of life and riding until your problems have disappeared has continued to remain.

With these freedoms come slight annoyances with our fellow Americans who just don't know the "right" way to drive! To fast, to slow. All over the road, not on the road at all. Doing to many things while driving, uncoordinated. The complaints might vary, but the complaints are still there none-the-less. We discover these maniacs and idiots even more so when driving in a foreign region of our home country.

Let's take a look at some of the common driving styles across the US.

California

Being a California driver myself, I thought starting with the Golden State would be an excellent choice. Known for our fast cars, rolling stops, and vehicles full of good looking people, California is a place where visitors don't know if they should be excited or run for their lives. We eat, do our makeup (sometimes that includes guys), talk on the phone, and plan our next vacation all while sitting in rush hour traffic. Most Californians HAVE to do this considering they spend half of their daylight commuting anyway.

Do you enjoy the fast lane? Does the thought of driving at ridiculous speeds across the state and the nation excite you? Then come join your long lost family in California, I eagerly await riding along or racing with you in your BMW coupe, your SUV, or your Japanese hybrid - all of which are commonly seen in California.

However, if you do not like fast cars, fast people, or Californian drivers in general, then you can join the people on the following map who think similarly about Californians.

View of Californian Drivers by Region

The sections of the map in RED like California drivers. All other sections of the map have a strong distaste towards us.
The sections of the map in RED like California drivers. All other sections of the map have a strong distaste towards us. | Source

New York Rules of the Road

At a green light: honk, then go.

At a red light: honk, then go.

At a yellow light: honk loudly, and keep going.

In rush hour: honk, then drive on the sidewalk.

New York

If Californians are known for driving like maniacs, New Yorkers are known for living on the horn. Maybe it's because New York has such a diverse makeup of immigrants from all around the world and the only fully universal language they have to speak is "honk-ese".

Although I mentioned earlier that most states have similar traffic rules, New York is a world of its own. Whether or not there are actually traffic laws is unknown to anyone, but what is known is that the generally accepted rule is "If you can do it and not noticeably run into someone/something, it's acceptable".

Portland

Well, with all of the hipsters that have taken over this part of America, there really isn't anything to talk about. Everyone walks, rides bicycles made out of wood, and generally sits around trying to avoid doing anything that is at all traditionally acceptable.

Not much else can be said.

Traditional Vehicle of the Portland Commuter

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Midwestern Restaurant Parking Lot

This is a typical parking lot of a Midwestern restaurant during a busy Sunday morning brunch.
This is a typical parking lot of a Midwestern restaurant during a busy Sunday morning brunch. | Source

The Midwest

While Californians and New Yorkers pull out onto a street a little bit before it's safe, Midwesterners wait until there is no one in sight. Do you see a car coming down the road? Wait... Do you see a man on horseback trotting through a field? Wait... Could there be a chance that your dog is not settled in the back of your pickup? Wait...

As you can see, the common trend in Midwestern driving is "wait".

Another common theme is the vehicle choice. The mode of transportation preferred by 8 out of 10 Middle-Staters is the John Deer.

Don't expect to go anywhere fast while driving in the Midwest. In fact, my Californian friends, you better bring more food, phone conversations, and makeup, because driving through the Midwest is SLOWER than rush hour traffic Friday afternoon.

A Floridian Parking Job

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Florida

No description of American drivers would be complete without a thorough look into the "driving" styles of Floridians. Perhaps it's the laid back tropical lifestyle, the average age being a little older than average, or the result of sunstroke, but Florida drivers are ultimately a combination of Californians and Midwesterners.

How's that?

Well, Floridians drive their vehicles with a very similar style to Midwesterns - very slow, deliberate, and unaware of what's going on around them - their head is almost popping out the front windshield and the speed is a consistent 45 miles an hour.

But on the other side, Floridians pull out in traffic whenever they feel like it, often do multiple things while driving (usually such activities as finding dentures, adjusting toupees, and climbing to the back of the vehicle to find a shopping list), and drive all over the road, shoulder, and sidewalk.

Therefore, within the state of Florida, driving could quite possibly be more dangerous than walking on someone's lawn or voting Democratic (apparently they'll try to shoot you for both).

Driving Styles

How would you label your driving style?

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Proud to Be an American

Although driving across America can introduce you to a variety of maniacs, police officers, and hillbillies, one thing is for sure - road tripping the land of the free will reveal to you incredible scenery, people, and ideas.

The freedom that comes with the road is exhilarating and peaceful, even despite the looney's you may encounter in the automobiles around you.

So get out there, experience the four corners of our nation, and think to yourself "It's good to be in America".

Driving USA!

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    • profile image

      Steve 5 years ago

      Bro this article is sick! I think you would agree Im a hybrid mix of California and Florida!

    • Robert Erich profile image
      Author

      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      Definitely bro! You are mostly Californian, but a touch of Florida seems to round you off pretty well.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      I am offended at your description of my driving, but for everybody else in the country, it is spot on! Voted up and funny.

    • Robert Erich profile image
      Author

      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      I understand completely, Millionaire Tips - I even offended myself with my comments on California. It's a sad world we live in.

    • jacqui2011 profile image

      jacqui2011 5 years ago from Leicester, United Kingdom

      Very funny and interesting hub. I live in the UK, but we have the same problem here with driving styles. I get so agitated on the school run, they either drive so slow that a push bike could overtake them or they drive so close behind you that they are almost in the back seat. Very entertaining article - voted up and funny.

    • Dawn Conklin profile image

      Dawn Conklin 5 years ago from New Jersey, USA

      Funny hub! I am actually quite surprised to see New Jersey didn't make the list :) I have heard many people come to NJ and complain about our driving. We are close to California with a touch of NY and Florida, then well our own Garden state mix in there also.

      NYC has gotten a little better, back in the day I remember people didn't wait for the light to turn green to go. Maybe after 3 cars in front of you went, the light would be green!

    • Robert Erich profile image
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      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      @Jacqui2011 - I'm glad you enjoyed and I'm happy to know that our friends across the pond have the same struggles. If crazy drivers were only in America, I would be a little disappointed!

      @Dawn - Well it sounds like driving in NJ would be quite an exciting place! I may have to visit there sometime and then add that to the next article. Glad you enjoyed the read.

    • lizlauder profile image

      lizlauder 5 years ago from Western New York

      Ha! I would like to propose a couple of sub-regional specializations:

      -In Ohio, drivers use the passing lane for traffic going well below the speed limit. (The right lane is for traffic moving at or near the speed limit. As your article suggests, there's no place for speeders in the midwest.)

      -Buffalo natives have a neat little trick where, when they're having trouble making a left hand turn, they'll pull out halfway, blocking all oncoming traffic from the left while they wait for a break in traffic coming from the right. It's awesome.

    • Robert Erich profile image
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      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      @lizlauder - Yes! I have driven in Ohio and that is so true. I will have to visit Buffalo to check that one out.

    • annescripts profile image

      annescripts 5 years ago from Gilbert, AZ

      In the Phoenix area, people don't tie down things that are strapped to the backs of their vans or trucks. We are continually almost killed by flying ladders or metal coming at us down the highway. I think I'll move to California! Great hub. Voted up.

    • Robert Erich profile image
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      Robert Erich 5 years ago from California

      @annescripts - it sounds like you might be safer in California! That's amazing, I never thought I would say that when it came to driving. Glad you enjoyed the article.

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