Maniacs and Idiots: Driving Styles Around the United States
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.
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
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.
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".
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
Midwestern Restaurant Parking Lot
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
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.
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).
How would you label your driving style?
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".