This weekend I had to run out for essentials, which I’m only doing when absolutely necessary. But it seems like plenty of other people were out there, too, and I can’t help believing some of them just didn’t want to be bored at home. So when it came time for me to get going on a blog topic for today, the main thing on my mind was Florida drivers.
Why, you ask, would you write about such a thing on your author blog? After all, isn’t this supposed to be all about your readers? Well, sure. And I want you all to get to know me better, and what I’m thinking about, and so, if you have pet peeves like I do, maybe we can share a few of those here. And one of my biggest pet peeves is—you guessed it—the way people drive here.
I spent a whole twenty minutes on the highways and byways this morning, and it was almost enough to make me, not my car, blow a gasket. See, Florida has so many people from all over the country, even all over the world, that there is no such thing as a typical Florida driver. Florida drivers come from everywhere, and then when they get here, they drive the way they drove back there. Did you ever think that a driver from a small town in Texas might take a slightly different approach than a driver from Miami?
You know what that means in real life terms? It means wildly inconsistent behavior on the roads. Speeders and turtles, No-Signal Nellies and Tailgater Terrys. You will find yourself stressed out here when you’re driving…a lot.
I’m especially nervous driving in my adopted state, and for good reason: I was rear-ended four—count ‘em, four—times over a period of about a decade. Yes, about every two-and-a-half years, for a while there, someone just rammed right into the back of my car. Oopsie!
Now, when I’m out on the road, I’m as defensive as they get. And I constantly see what people do wrong, or don’t do right. (Just ask my wife…she’ll tell you I complain every time I get behind the wheel.)
So for all you tourists planning on visiting Florida, are my Top Five Tips for How to Drive a Car.
1) Use Your Turn Signal – Whether you come from the part of the country where they call it a turn signal or the part where they call it a directional, you should know why that little stick on the steering column is there. It’s for signaling your intention. That means if you are changing lanes or making a turn onto another street. Really, we’re not all mind readers out here. Capisce?
2) Ten MPH Over the Speed Limit Is Par for the Course – Okay, you came to Florida to relax, right? I get it; I really do. But remember, there are people who live here who actually have jobs and places to go and people to see. Some of them have bumper stickers reading “If it’s called tourist season, why can’t we shoot them?” I believe part of the reason for those stickers is the drivers from out of state. Some go ten MPH below the speed limit, some go exactly the speed limit—even if everyone around them is going faster—and some go about 100 MPH everywhere. It’s maddening. Keep it around ten MPH over, everywhere you go, and you should be fine. You won’t get pulled over for that. Seriously. Oh, and if you truly can’t bear to go so fast…at least have the decency to stay in the slow lane. That’s the one on the far right.
3) Tailgating Is A Swinish Behavior – You know that guy in the SUV right behind you on I-75? He’s in the far left lane like you, and you’re doing ten MPH over the speed limit, like I said, and he’s on your butt like white on rice? Like, two feet from your bumper? You’re that guy? Okay, then you are a jerk. Back. The. Hell. Off. If it’s that important for you to go 100 MPH, maybe you should be over in Daytona, on that track they have there. Tailgating is extremely dangerous, not to mention obnoxious.
4) Don’t Be Passing on the Right, Weaving In and Out of Traffic With No Signal – That should cover pretty much everything else, right? You would not believe how often I see this: incredibly aggressive driver, speeding up until he has to slow down, braking to avoid hitting the person ahead of him in that lane, changing lanes like crazy in an effort to pass everybody, all with no signal, of course. We have names for people like this, but I don’t want to use them here. Check Miles of Files, in the scene where Mac is swearing at his lawyer.
5) Feel Free to Accelerate – One thing about merging onto the highway: you have to start building speed before you enter the highway, where people are doing, you know, 80 MPH. That’s why they have those nice, long on-ramps. I can’t tell you how many times I have been stuck behind some turtle, knowing we have to merge onto the highway, and they are building speed from, say, 30-40 the whole way. So maybe you’ll be doing 45 when you reach the lane…where everyone else is doing 80? My favorite phrase for this situation (and yes, I say it aloud often): “Feel free to accelerate!”
And there you have it—driving tips from a writer who gets a little nervous knowing he’s going to be surrounded by idiots every single time he hits the road. “Goodbye, friends, and happy motoring back on the freeway, which is already in progress!”