On the Road Again

In a recent post, I revealed how my move to Florida shifted the way I look at driving. Made me less confident, at first. I won’t recap that entire post here, but I’d like to add to the list of things I imagine Florida driving instructors telling their students.

If you haven’t seen last week’s post, you can click here to read it. Once you’re ready, below you’ll find my next set of imaginary Florida Driver’s Ed suggestions:

  1. If you hear sirens or see flashing lights, don’t bother pulling to the side until they’re directly behind you. And then, when they clear your path, follow them!
    I mean, what’s the point in getting over early? Especially since you’ll be the only one getting over, why even bother?
  2. Florida’s version of merge isn’t like most other parts of the country. We don’t file in like an accordion, a car from each lane, taking turns, maintaining the flow of traffic going. That’s not the Florida way. If you’re in the lane that’s filing in, stop. At some point, you’ll get in. After every car passes, then it’s your turn. If you’re in the lane welcoming the “mergers,” just keep driving like they aren’t there. It’s their responsibility to get in where they fit in.
    I have no words. Nearly everything I witness about merging here just feels wrong.
  3. If you approach a stop sign and there are no other cars around, just roll right through it. Don’t pause, don’t decelerate, don’t bother about the pedestrian with the dog staring you down. Stop signs are to manage traffic when there’s more than one car present. So, if you don’t see one, just go.
    I mean, who has time to stop for no reason at all? If you have two eyes and all those mirrors in the car, there’s no chance you could miss anything. So, trust your vision and only stop or slow down when you have good reason.

Aside from my high school driver’s ed class, my mother helped shape me as driver. When I bought my first car, she insisted I get a manual transmission. Ignoring my objections, she said ‘everyone should know how to drive a stick.’ When I finally learned, I was glad I did. Driving a stick shift in Chicago is a real accomplishment and made me sure I could drive anywhere. Until I got to Florida.

The good news? I bought my first six-speed the year before moving to Florida. Driving a stick increased my confidence and vigilance. And with prayer, obedience of traffic signs, and the use of my signals, horn, and merge skills — did I say prayer? — I believe for the best every time I get behind the wheel.

If you have any driving tips from your city or state you’d like to share, feel free to add your words of wisdom (or caution) in the comments!

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