The List: 5 things I miss about Northern drivers

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by Eric Ginsburg

1. They use turn signals

I moved to the South almost a decade ago, but after spending my formative driving years in the North, I struggle to tolerate the driving skills of my neighbors, especially in the Triad area. Apparently a lot of you consider it to be some great sacrifice or feat of strength to indicate that you plan to turn. I assure you, doing so will only make your life better. I’m not the only one who’s noticed; 88.5 FM, WFDD has a campaign to remind people to use the darn things.

2. They know how to merge

My real motive for complaining stems from a near accident on Sunday, when a driver on Wendover Avenue in Greensboro merged quickly across two lanes of traffic and forced themselves between two rapidly moving vehicles. This horribly dangerous maneuver caused another car to spin out as it slammed on the brakes and pulled sharply on the brakes. If a car had been next to me, I wouldn’t have been able to swerve out of the way, and I would’ve T-boned the spiraling victim. I see things like this all the time down here, especially as drivers fly across multiple lanes. Y’all need to chill with that. One at a time, please.

3. They understand fast lanes

There is either a higher percentage of sadists living here than most other cities or a whole generation of drivers never learned that traveling at the speed limit in the left lane of a four-lane highway is kind of a dick move. I’m thrilled for you that there’s no urgency in your life, but there are three other lanes for you to putter around in.

Northerners — who overall are too aggressive behind the wheel and are born with an innate sense of road rage — experience meltdowns when this predominantly Southern phenomenon presents itself.

4. They are capable of turning

Far too many people around here try to whip their whip across multiple lanes of traffic to make a turn instead of circling back to their turn. Maybe a carefree attitude causes people to forget which lane they’re traveling in. I see more near misses from this here than anywhere else I’ve been, and it’s particularly scary for bicyclists.

5. And they do it at a reasonable speed

An inordinate number of drivers seem unwilling or unable of pulling into a turn lane fully, sticking out into traffic and causing near accidents. In a similar vein, far too many drivers around here begin to turn but then move slower than Internet Explorer, creeping into a driveway and shutting down the street until they are good and ready to pull into a parking lot. I love y’all, really I do, and I’m not keen on returning to the Northeast, but can we get this under control?

  • Terry Austin

    I’ve lived here 35 years and the “slow people in the fast lane” still bother me! And really, when you’re turning left, do you have to get in the left lane 5 miles before your turn?

  • Jeanie Harrison

    Thanks for enlightening me! All this time I thought those drivers were Northern transplants!

  • George Newman

    The system that stops your vehicle is collectively known as the “brakes.” Poor spelling and incorrect word choice are apparently the “breaks” in professional writing anymore.

    • Thanks for pointing out the typo. It has been corrected.

  • While I agree with your list of 5 aggravating traffic frustrations I must comment that they are not unique to the South. I’ve lived in every region of this great land and have encountered these same phenomena in each area. And in many other countries, what we consider traffic laws are considered merely suggestions. As my Mother (a transplanted Northerner herself) used to say, ” There are trains, planes, and buses leaving every day for the North, feel free to leave anytime!” But we would love for yall to stay!

    • Gary

      I agree with your Mom’s comments, but we are talking about making our roads SAFER.

  • E Johnson

    In the north, where i’m from originally, they know what traffic circles are. Here in the triad no one knows what they are and how to yield. I feel like I’m taking my life in my hands when I drive around a traffic circle.

  • Gary Fowler

    WOW. Eric you hit this one on the head. Driver education must start at the High School level. Obviously the adults teaching these children how to drive are obviously not qualified since they are the ones lacking certain courtesy and SAFETY related driving skills. The DOT may be able to help by putting up signs on any 4 lane road that explains the obvious, “Slower Traffic Keep Right.” You do have to add a “6 thing” that explains the use of a yield sign and an acceleration lane. You don’t stop and you accelerate to the speed of traffic to help merge safely.

    • Terry Austin

      I agree with you on the acceleration lanes! But I think the sign should say “Keep right except to pass,” because since schools began tracking, no one wants to think of themself as a “slow” driver.

  • Brian Rosa

    Regional differences in land use patterns might have something to say about driving habits. Northerners are more mindful drivers because their dense urban environment of congested streets requires them to be so. These streets often mix with pedestrians and cyclists which introduces a humanized element in an otherwise automated, unsocial activity. Unlike the North, whose cities benefit from a history that predates driving culture, Southern cities largely prospered because of the highway. Sprawl dominates the landscape and erodes the social capital of our cities. People ignore other people because our built environment encourages it, whether it be in the form of a suburban cul-de-sac, a seven-lane stroad, fast food drive-thrus, or a massive blacktop parking lot: too many of us will simply never step out from the box to actively participate in the civic livelihood of our cities.