Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Driving Me Crazy

As I’ve ranted before, I think Maryland drivers are the worst I’ve ever lived amongst.  When I learned how to drive, out in Ohio, we learned things like how to use turn signals, how to merge, who goes first at a 4-way stop sign, how to drive on freeways, etc.

I noticed on the very day I moved from Albany NY to Baltimore, that these people here don’t really know how to drive.  (And that’s saying something, after having lived 7 years in New York.)  I wondered if they even HAD Driver’s Ed classes here…  It was like they posted a sign at the Delaware border, “Welcome to Maryland… Buckle Up Because It’s Time for Freeway Roller Derby!” 

People never use their turn signals, or at least so rarely that you never know if they’re flashing on purpose.  Or in my neighborhood, if you’re waiting for an approaching car to pass before making a left yourself, they turn on their blinker about 5-feet from the turn. 

“Thanks, asshole!  I could have pulled out 15 seconds ago, if you knew how to work that little stick on the left side of the wheel!”

Another trick, guaranteed to start my day off with profanity, is when they pull up to a red light at a 2-lane intersection that doesn’t have left-turn arrow, and settle into the left lane.  No blinker.  I pull in behind them, so others may make rights on red, as needed.  When the light turns green, THEN they put on their blinker and sit there while they wait for a break in oncoming traffic... like they didn’t realize they had to turn there and it just came to them.  More likely, it’s just a complete lack of awareness or consideration of anyone else on the road. 

If you try to pass someone going 50 on the interstate, be prepared for them to stand on it so that you’re hung out in the left lane indefinitely.  Then as soon as you tuck back in behind them, they slow down again.

Any time there’s a merge ahead, prepare for a traffic jam.  The concept of “Right side goes – left side goes, right side goes, and so on, is unheard of.  In Maryland, they might as well just put it right on the license plates, “The Me-First State.”

So when I saw this “How Well Do You Know the Rules of the Road” quiz on MSN, I decided I’d prove my superiority on such things. 

You know how this all sounds like a set-up for the author to get his come-uppance?  Not!  I nailed 18 out of 20 questions.  Whoo Hoo!

Actually, I didn’t know there would be comparisons involved, but the quiz took my age/state/sex demographics at the end.

I’m really kind of pissed I didn’t get them all, because the 2 I missed, I guessed what I thought a cop would say (meaning more rigid) rather than what I thought made sense in real life.  I’d be more specific here, but I don’t want to give away any answers in case you want to try the test yourself.  I’ll talk about them in detail, in Comments.

So what did I learn?  Looking at the results grid, Maryland is right about at the national average. 

Great.  So the whole country’s drivers are going to hell in a hand basket.  I feel so much better now.

It also looks like all but 2 demographics are within 3 points of the average.  First, ages 15-24 have the lowest average score, with 75.  If most states require an 80 to get a license, that means trouble for the youngsters. Good thing this little online test isn’t legally binding.  Although they ARE giving the field a handicap… they were probably texting while they were taking the test.

The other nugget there is that women, with all ages combined, average a score of 78, which is also below the bottom limit for licensing.  Now I thought that it was supposed to be a myth about “women drivers.”  Hmmm.

Don’t blame the messenger here!  I’m just reporting the numbers.  So take the test, and let me know how you did!


  1. These are the 2 I got wrong:

    They had a question about how fast to merge onto an interstate; at the posted speed limit or at a speed that blends in with traffic. I think you obviously have to blend with traffic, but I can’t imagine a traffic cop buying the excuse that you were just merging, so I went with the posted speed limit. Even though you may not know what it is yet until you get on the thing.

    The other one was what you should do when light turns yellow. I said stop, even though I know it’s not always practical. The answer was “stop if you are not too close to stop effectively.” Which makes more sense, I agree. Again, I was taking a ticketing officer’s angle against what I know makes better sense.

  2. Although I'm a woman, I might have to agree with you about the "crazy woman driver" theory. There's nothing scarier than a middle-aged mother of four driving in her Hummer or Escalade or big-ass Yukon, talking on the phone and attempting to drive in a straight line. Or, God forbid, make a turn or merge or something!
    - Carly

  3. If they're driving in a Hummer or Escalade, I guarantee they're driving in front of ME, and I can't see around. I know those hulks are useful in transporting and entertaining the short folk, but do they have to block out the sun? It's a wonder I ever find a turn...

  4. Boston drivers are horrific. I'm sure they're right up there with the worst in the country.

    You know how people don't generally honk at each other because it can cause some sort of altercation?

    While I was in India, that's all they do. Since there are generally no traffic lights, except in the westernized cities, people just honk at each other all day. It's crazy.

    And for the most part, the women don't drive there. I'd hate to be behind and older Indian women if I was late for work!

    I can't wait to travel on Xmas day. NOT!!!!!

  5. I've heard about the Boston drivers, but I've rarely driven among them. Warning taken.

    I'm one of those that almost never uses my horn. The only time I beep is when someone else obviously doesn't see me and starts coming into my lane. Or maybe just a half a toot when I'm behind someone at a red light which becomes a green light and I can see the driver in front of me fidgeting around on the seat.

  6. Now, imagine all those crazy Baltimore, Boston, Jersey, New Yawk drivers, aged 80 and older, driving around FLA like it's just a third-world country (well, OK, you got me there!) tha they visit for only three or four months out of the year so they aren't sure of their surroundings, figuring they pay a lot of money for their condo down here, so, by God, they're entitled to drive any way they damn well please--left turn on red, stop in the middle of the street to figure out where they are, can't see over those Buick and Caddy steering wheels--on their way to the early-bird specials. Add in the local rednecks in their swamp buggy/monster trucks and self-important realtors in their Lexuses and Hummers who are ALWAYS in a hurry to get wherever they're going and you end up with a daily combination of Cannonball Run and Demolition Derby for a couple months. At least it keeps the local body shops busy.....

  7. I have a taste of that in my neighborhood, Dick. There are a lot of Jewish senior citizens here, orthodox Jew and otherwise, and I think they've actually went as far as to make it a "turn signal-optional zone." Lots of huge Buicks and Caddys, parked smack dab in the front of the grocery store, usually blocking the only place that you can get the cart through.

    I feel your pain.

  8. What is this thing you call "turn signal"????

  9. It's a persistent myth that one can actually indicate one's intentions on the road, for the safety and convenience of others.

    I've never actually seen it, so I remain skeptical.


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