04 October 2008

Local Drivers

I spent the past week in Tampa, FL and noticed two big differences between driving around Boston and driving here. First, the vehicles are MUCH bigger. I saw more Hummers on Monday alone that I see around Boston (excluding the limos) in a month. I rented a compact, so it surprised me to find a Jeep Compass waiting for me. I guess compact is a relative term.

The other big difference is that everyone was just so polite. People respected appropriate following distances and let you change lanes or make your turn without all the hurry, hurry rage we have up North. It was particularly interesting, since I had just been discussing local driving habits with a couple of New England transplants to California. In particular, left hand turns. Around New England, most people expect the first guy in line to gun it to make a left hand turn ahead of oncoming traffic, while in Los Angeles, everyone waits patiently, but then up to 5 cars will take the left on red while all the other lanes sit by, knowing this is the deal.

While each of these examples is technically going against the rules of the road, they work because everyone follows them. This is why I contend that Rhode Islanders are much worse drivers than we Massholes. MA drivers may be jerks, but we are consistent jerks. Around Providence, the only time I ever see a turn signal is in the middle of a dangerous and illegal manouever (such as taking a left hand turn from the far right of 3 lanes with plenty pf traffic in the other two) and it's always a gamble as to whether the car in front of you will go through the green light or stop and wait to go after it turns red.