Saturday, January 5, 2008

In New Jersey, "Driving" Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry

Some of you might remember the famous catch phrase from the movie “Love Story,” that told us “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Of course, that kind of thinking is not only ignorant, but downright dangerous. Particularly because I think some drivers in New Jersey have actually taken that old tagline to heart. Swerving in and out of traffic, at speeds rivaling the Indy 500, many drivers in New Jersey live in a world all their own. A world that’s free of restrictions and boundaries, where every day is an opportunity for another exciting thrill ride. You see, rules don’t apply to this type of driver, because they’re above the law. They’re special. Or at least they view themselves that way.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve witnessed near misses when it comes to potential accidents while driving. And it’s not just “Speed Racers” that are the problem. There are also the “Horse and Buggy” drivers, who slow traffic down to a stand still every time they enter or leave traffic. For these drivers, caution is the keyword, and they use it with unapologetic excess.

Unfortunately, they don’t always bother to look out for oncoming traffic when they enter a roadway. They just sort of thrust themselves forward and hope for the best. As you might imagine, most of these drivers are of the elderly variety, some of whom should probably have retired from driving long ago. But there are also some younger drivers who adhere to this principal, particularly when they are planning to turn off the road. They begin slowing down a mile from their exit, flashing their blinkers and drifting on and off the shoulder, until they finally get to their much anticipated change of direction. That’s when the brakes are fully applied, so they can accomplish the incredibly difficult task of turning the wheel. This method of stopping completely before turning has caused more accidents than I care to count.

But if “Horse and Buggy” drivers are overly-cautious, the “Liberty Cells” are just the opposite. With their blue-tooth attachments or cell-to-ear technology, they don’t have time to pay proper attention to rules and regulations. They have calls to make, things to say, people to talk to. All of which leaves them very little time to watch out for other cars when they’re changing lanes, or assuming that a red light means they actually have to stop. Those policies don’t apply to them because they’re in the middle of a conversation, and they certainly aren’t going to let “driving” distract them from that. It would mean interrupting their important train of thought, which to them is a clear violation of their “freedom of speech.”

Then of course, there are the “Puddle Jumpers,” those whimsical mischief makers that simply can’t decide which lane they want to be in. So they make quick decisions, and jump over to the next lane regardless of how close they might come to the car in front or behind them. These drivers live by the “grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” philosophy, assuming that whichever lane they aren’t in must be better for some reason. So their journey becomes a never ending game of hopscotch, as they skip back and forth between lanes, second-guessing their decisions and then skipping back. And it doesn’t seem to matter if there’s barely a car-length available for them to skip into; if they need to get over there, they’ll make themselves fit. Naturally, these people tend to suffer from other types of maladies as well, such as schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder or ADD.

Now why, you might wonder, am I crediting New Jersey with exclusive ownership for these types of drivers? Surely these categories exist in other states as well. Yes, that may be true. But in New Jersey, there seems to be an overabundance of “entitlement” that makes your daily journey on the roadways a living re-enactment of “Grand Theft Auto.”

But why New Jersey? Why do so many aggressive or oblivious drivers seem to aggregate in the Garden State? Well, after much contemplation and theoretical debate, I think I’ve finally come up with a hypothesis.

The reason that New Jersey drivers don’t follow rules is because of the Jughandles. Those weird little turn-arounds that make you go right when you want to turn left. That is the precedent, the very principle which guides New Jersey drivers wherever they go. If the convention of having to go in the opposite direction to get somewhere is a standard practice, then why wouldn’t the opposite be true in other circumstances too?

For instance, if they tell you not to speed, you actually can. Or if they tell you not to change lanes without a turn signal, who cares? As long as you’re turning right to go left, you’re following the rules. Rules, that for New Jersey drivers, were made to be broken.

But that’s just me. What do you think of driving in New Jersey?


LMc1381 said...

I completely agree with you!!! I actually learned how to drive in NJ, so I have a few of these characteristics. However, I think NJ Drivers are used to the jughandles... it's the out of state drivers that get confused and drive across 4 lanes of traffic in order to make their right-left.

Once you learn how to deal with Jersey Drivers, it makes life a lot easier.

Henson Ray said...

Hmmm...I forgot about the kind of driver that goes over four lanes...good point...maybe they need a new name altogether, like "The Catapulters" since they are able to launch one car over four lanes.

Tina said...

Good Job! :)