I admit that there are other American cities with worse traffic than Tallahassee.
Miami’s high-octane madness resembles the chase scenes of post-apocalyptic movies “The Road Warrior” and “Fury Road.” In Atlanta, the stop-and-start capital of the South, the driver is going either 8 mph or 80 and turn signals are considered a sign of weakness. Los Angeles freeways are parking lots.
The only thing worse than mindless traffic in Washington, DC is mindless politicians. And Houston, well, stay far, far away from Houston’s interstate hell.
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Ah, but Tallahassee has a particular kind of frustrating, squeaky, eccentric craziness all its own when it comes to drivers.
Since Tallahassee is a college town (FSU, FAMU, TCC, a branch of Flagler College, Keiser, Lively Technical, the famous School of Hard Knocks, etc.), many student drivers crowd the streets.
Mix in self-appointed lawmakers, state employees, lobbyists, commuters, out-of-town shoppers, tourists, high schoolers galore, senior citizens and, well, it’s a recipe for high blood pressure and early gray hair. Now add the state of Florida’s reputation as a breeding ground for psychopaths, meth smokers, alligators and Donald Trump. Throw a lit match and run.
Here are some of the lousy motorists and atrocious driving habits you’ll encounter in Tallahassee.
The runner at the red light
Just because a light turns green doesn’t mean it’s safe to cross the intersection. Always count slowly to three and look both ways to make sure a reckless speed demon isn’t about to disrupt your ride. Zooming through yellow lights that turn red might pass for a sport in Tallahassee. The driver is probably texting on the phone anyway.
You may have noticed that it rains a lot in this Flori-duh pass. During the warm months, which is to say almost every month, it really decreases. We are talking about the water levels of automated car washes. For some motorists, the torrents of water nozzles inspire the need for speed. Walls of water are sent flying, temporarily blinding other drivers on the road. The situation worsens on Interstate 10, where some motorists are determined to float plane to paradise.
The Rolling Stop Artist
Is this asshole going to stop at the octagonal red sign or will he just keep pulling into oncoming traffic? You know the guy. The motorist who mocks stop signs and refuses to use a brake. The affliction worsens in mall parking lots. Obviously, the rules of the road don’t apply when you buy something from Publix or Bonefish Grill.
The last minute merger
Accidents or road works permanently result in traffic on one lane. The stream grinds to a crawl. It is obvious that only one lane is open ahead. So why do all the other riders keep sneaking forward and fighting for position to cut at the last second? Experts say letting other drivers queue and merge avoids creating a bottleneck. Judging by all the profanity that comes out of my mouth when the pavement suddenly narrows, the experts don’t know what they’re talking about in the perfect double hockey sticks.
The handicapped roundabout
There are many roundabouts in Tallahassee. No one knows how to use a roundabout.
The road rager
Let me tell you a true story. Earlier this year, in the part of Bradfordville north of Tallahassee, an angry BMW driver crashed into a Prius during the afternoon rush hour. The driver of the Prius stopped at a nearby convenience store to assess the damage and speak to the BMW hothead. It didn’t go well.
The driver of the Prius got back into his car to wait for the police. That’s when the driver of the Beamer crashed into the driver’s side of the Prius. The BMW was pushing the Prius through the parking lot when the furious driver fired a shot at the Prius. The owner of the Prius pulled out a gun and returned fire, killing the man driving the BMW. Lesson learned: even Prius owners are armed in Florida. Never believe stereotypes. And, oh yes, and keep your cool when you’re behind the wheel.
Florida recently passed a law banning the playing of loud music in motor vehicles. Judging by the tooth-grinding bass lines and yelps I hear coming from the cars beside and behind me in traffic, this new rule works just as well as carrying water in grocery bags. in paper. But isn’t it nice to know that the last music you hear before the car crash is Lil Baby Tupelo with Taylor Swift?
The enemies of turn signals
I hope you can read minds. This is the only way to decipher which direction a driver intends to turn. Obviously, knowing how to use a turn signal is a closely guarded secret.
The disabled on the road
For years I drove home from work through Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare. Almost every day, I asked out loud, “I wonder what clueless moron will change lanes at the last second and swerve past me or nearly run into someone else?” I have rarely been disappointed.
The motorcycle awning
I saw this on social media the other day: “Cyclist thinks all motorists should watch out for him. A biker thinks all motorists are trying to kill him. So true. When I first came to Tallahassee for graduate school in the early 80s, I thought I would bring a Yamaha XT500 motorcycle for transportation.
I rode the Yamaha for a day, nearly got run over five times, then took it back to the farm where I grew up in Marianna. Tallahassee, with all its crazy hills and crazy drivers, was too dangerous. I traded in my motorcycle for a 1969 Buick Skylark, which was a tank by comparison. If you’re riding a motorcycle in this traffic, it’s not a question of if you’ll be hit, it’s when.
In Tallahassee, always drive as if someone wants to catch you, because it is.
Contact former Tallahassee Democratic senior editor Mark Hinson at [email protected]
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