Friday, February 11, 2011

Drivers-ed all the time around here-

Living in south Florida for 8 years I learned to drive with a, shall we say, . . . purpose. Some would call it aggressive; I call moving in an efficient manner from point A to B. You dart, turn right on red without even coming to a complete stop, yield generally means "keep driving but slow down a bit." There's a lot of blue hairs rolling around the streets to you've got to learn to avoid them from impeding progress. It somewhat of a game. It's just how you drive down there.

Not so much here in the D.C. area.

For a city in such a rush, they move so slow!! Drives me nuts. (But maybe it makes sense as many work for or with the government so there's always desperation and talk complaining about the traffic but no one does anything about it; ya that's it. Just the culture here ; )  Here's my main beefs with the greater D.C. area motorist:

1) People do not turn right on red. I literally have to honk my horn (which is considered highly aggressive here; it's as if all cars are mute on these streets there's so little of it going on) to get them to move. Then when I do use this communication tool, it's as if they're like, "My oh my! What does this young man want? Oh yes, I did forget that it is legal to turn right on red. But I'm not going anywhere until there are absolutely NO cars coming!" Each day home from work I make a right on red or try to. There are three lanes of oncoming traffic but FOUR lanes right after the light as it's an on ramp to 495. So, visualize with me, three before, four after. That means, if you're turning right on red, you'll ALWAYS have a clear lane to turn into even if there is oncoming traffic. But for some inexplicable reason, I'd say 90% of people still wait until the coast is COMPLETELY, and I mean completely, clear. Ridiculous and annoying as the light is a 3 minute light (no exaggeration!)

2) D.C. people also believe the speed limit is just that; the absolute limit at which to travel; not the speed at which you're suppose to maintain while driving as to keep the flow of traffic moving. It's very common for the NoVA resident to cruise at 10 mph below the speed limit and then look at you as if you've gone mad if you're traveling 5 mph above.

3) On ramps/lanes are not places for you to stop!!! The only time you are supposed to stop is at a stop sign or when a red light is in front of you. All other times you should keep moving and merge with other traffic in a smooth and fluid manner. Don't slam on your brakes when the merge lane begins to end, just begin to move over and room will appear. Or beat everyone to the punch and accelerate on the ramp so you have four less cars in front of you. That's how I do it. Feels like you're legally skipping the line ; )

4) Really a sub point of #3 but if you want to change lanes, then change lanes!!! Don't brake and jerkily swerve after seeing that someone is in your blind spot. This is often followed by a moment of panic where excessive braking occurs leading to a chain reaction behind you. You do this instead; think ahead a bit, check your mirrors, even turn your head if need be. If there's a wide open slot, go ahead and move over; it's yours! If you are more of a pre-cautious type, just put on your blinker and wait for an opening WHILE maintaining current speed. If you're 3 lanes to the left and need to exit suddenly on your right; don't D.C. peeps! You don't have the skill to perform such a maneuver. Just keep going and exit at the next available or pull a U turn (but I know how those frighten you.)

So there are my four main complaints. I know it won't change. I also know that if our beloved urbanites around here read this, they'd all agree and not realize that they are who I'm talking about. As I began this rant with . . . drive with purpose ; ) Please and thank you-


  1. i like it. driving in the DC metro area is the bane of my existence.

  2. yes please, people, drive with purpose.