On my recent trip I drove from Minnesota, to Iowa, to Missouri, to Kansas, to Oklahoma, to Texas, to Arkansas, to Tennessee, to Kentucky, to Virginia, to Maryland, to Pennsylvania, and in all that driving, there was never a point where I said to myself, “Wow.  Drivers in this state are —–.”  Until I hit New Jersey.  Good grief.  What is wrong with those people?


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Site administrative account, so probably Corwin, Felix or DD-B.

16 thoughts on “Drivers”

  1. As someone who has lived in Iowa right next to the Mississippi River for a couple days shy of 31 years, my response is “That’s because you skipped Wisconsin.”

  2. Howar, the one time I visited Paris, I was nervous of the traffic walking in Paris. The whole “sidewalks are a convenient way to make U turns” thing.

    It did turn out that, contrary to reputation, many Parisians are extremely friendly to strangers. Do you know how a Parisian who speaks only French gives directions to a tourist who speaks only English?
    [Hand points right] “VA”
    [Hand points left] “VA.”
    [Forward gesture twice]”VA. Va.”
    [Epic Gallic Shrug & smile] “Voila!”

  3. I used to live in NJ. You’re absolutely right. Certainly the worst in the east coast, anyway.

    NYC drivers are aggressive and dangerous, but for the most part they know they’re doing something wrong when they do it; they just go ahead and do it anyway.

    MA drivers have a different set of rules — including the notorious lazy traffic-blocking left-turn and so on — but they tend to obey them. Most even know how to traverse a rotary.

    But NJ drivers don’t know what they’re doing or why. It’s like they never actually learned to drive in the first place or they have just taken way too many psychedelics and for them the steering wheel has just morphed into a prehensile ovipositor.

  4. True story:

    We were in Beijing, China, being driven to the Great Wall of China place of visiting, which is the best one but also the third-closest one to the city. The road is a beaut: freshly built and smoothly paved, three lanes in each direction, almost no traffic.

    Rounding a curve we swerve to avoid a farmer riding a small tractor. A really small tractor, like the kind people get when they live in deep suburbia and have an acre or two to mow. So, he’s doing… I dunno, 6 miles an hour. And he’s in the fast lane. And the jaw-dropping truth of it is he was going THE WRONG WAY on this highway. In the fast lane. On a garden tractor.

    What is wrong with these people? We had to ask. “He doesn’t have a driver’s license. He doesn’t know.”

    That is all.

  5. Forget skydiving, bungee jumping or walking on coals with Tony Robbins.

    My life bending experience has been a car ride from Bangkok to Trat in Thailand. According to Google Maps, the 331 km (206 mile) journey should take 4 and a half hours. With the traffic congestion and snarls in combination of the lack of acknowledgment of lane designations that are the norm for urban areas in SE Asia, I think the driver completed the pilgrimage in about 2 hours.

    Ever seen the scene in Planes, Trains and Automobiles in which the car that Steve Martin and John Candy’s characters passes between two oncoming trucks? A bit like that – except it lasts for a couple of hours.

  6. It comes from occasional exposure to oxygen, which is unavoidable at highway speeds. Their metabolisms, which have evolved and adapted to run on diesel fumes and refinery waste gases, can’t handle it, and they go kind of berserk.

    (Ah ha. I saw your post on the LiveJournal feed from my Android phone, and was getting more and more frustrated [but not surprised] at the repeated “Oops, something went wrong” as I tried to post this comment. I’d forgotten that you ask everyone to comment here, and the ElJay app wasn’t showing that line at the end of the post.)

  7. As someone who grew up in Wisconsin, you must have missed Chicago.
    Overseas: southern France is worse than northern France or Belgium; all are worse than Germany; the traffic is so dense in Bangkok, Kabul and Seoul you cannot really tell how good or bad they drive; I have yet to live in a place in Africa where the drivers were not worse than anything I have seen anywhere else, except….
    Saudi Arabia, where I saw a left hand turn at a light from the far right lane (four lanes in each direction). And saw it more than once.

  8. I’ve been to Korea twice, both for year long tours. I think you would be hard pressed to find worse drivers than you’ll find there. There are many stories that I could tell that are on the same caliber as the one that Karen@6 told.

  9. The worst I’ve seen was in Manila. During rush-hour a four lane freeway will have six to seven cars driving abreast. And the only time I saw traffic lights being obeyed was when they had a police officer armed with an assault riffle standing in them.

  10. You skipped DC.

    DC is where people who are the worst drivers in other areas are sent so that driving there is pleasant. That’s both nationally and internationally. DC locals (the ones that survive) are often excellent drivers; they have to be. But the constant turn over of the imports ensures it will always been a nasty place to drive.

    NJ’s problem is having to deal with drivers from NYC. NYC itself isn’t that bad, once you learn the rules (if you want it, you’ve got to take it from the taxi that assumes that because you aren’t a local you’re dead meat), but once NYC drivers get out of NYC they still drive like they are there. (Some) NJ drivers learned to drive in that mixed environment, and, yeah, it is a different world.

  11. Jersey is what’s wrong with them. In most cases, the condition – I’m told – is terminal.

  12. I don’t know if not being allowed to pump your own gas would have anything to do with it, but if it did, that’s part of the answer.

    (I haven’t ever driven in NJ. I have driven in DC, and would prefer not to, thankyouverymuch. Driving in Austin is about as insane as I’d like my driving experience to be.)

  13. Live just outside of DC, not a big deal traffic-wise unless it snows. Then you get the interesting stuff: A very large majority of the population is fully aware that when driving in snow one does not truly control the vehicle and drives according; but people with 4WD new to them that winter and cabbies from areas that don’t have any snow treat snow like rain.

    Bad drivers in general are what one is not accustomed to. To me, any place where people stop completely before making a right turn despite having the right of way has the worst drivers in the world. If you don’t know what they’ll do when the have the right of way, it’s safe to assume they have unconventional notions of what constitutes right of way and THAT is creepy.

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