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Driving Me Crazy

I have woes about being a conservative honker.

At the risk of sounding like my mother right now, I have to say you guys drive too crazy here.

If you don't know, I’m from outside of Los Angeles, and the drivers there are notoriously nuts. When I attended design school in downtown LA as a timid 18-year-old, I was too scared to drive, and I would wake up extra early just to catch the Metrolink.

There is more traffic there than you can imagine. The freeways are about nine lanes wide on either side (something I really miss, weirdly), and it takes about 45 minutes just to go two miles. This is not an exaggeration. Just imagine the opening scene to the movie Office Space.

There’s nothing like L.A. traffic to get your blood boiling, and we see our share of fender benders out there. It’s especially a giant mess if we have “bad weather,” which constitutes clouds and a drizzle.

That being said, I’m used to pretty aggressive driving and the zooming across double-digit lanes of traffic, but Pittsburgh people take it to a whole new level.

I’ve never heard so much horn honking. Maybe it’s a California thing, but I only honk in the most extreme cases, such as if someone smacks off my back bumper—or tries to carjack me.

Honking seems to occur a lot more often here, and I don’t think I can muster up the courage to do it. For me, the feeling of honking my car horn is similar to screaming the “f-word." This coming from someone who isn’t much of a potty mouth.

I will admit, I tend to be a speeder (just kidding, highway patrol!) with a decent sense of direction, but not here.

Besides writing this blog, I do a lot of freelancing for a local paper, which means I end up driving to the end of the earth and back never knowing where I’m going. I've spent plenty of time being the slow person on the highway with five people jammed up behind my car, and I can’t tell you how much time I’ve spent making circles for 30 minutes when I’m only half a mile from where I’m supposed to be.

There are so many curvy and hilly roads here that I’m way too scared to speed—or even meet the speed limit—for fear I’ll spin off the road.

The thing is, I don't know why the driving out here is so much more aggressive than California. There aren't lanes upon lanes of jammed up traffic all the time. I have yet to encouter any traffic jams, although I hear they happen. I'm just curious, what's the reason Pittsburghers?

I don’t know how you guys do it, but I guess practice will make perfect. For the time being, try to be patient with the gal with the California plates if you’re driving behind her.

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Beau February 16, 2012 at 01:45 PM
No body cares about your opinion about our driving . . . walk to Starbucks if you dont like it.
Mark A. February 16, 2012 at 06:53 PM
Well that was rude. Way to show how nice we are around here. On topic, I've been driving here for 20 years and I don't find them to be particularly aggressive. Boston and Philly are way more intolerant on the roads in my opinion.
Sarah Kovash February 16, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Mark A. - I tend to find the more aggressive drivers (and honkers) downtown, but in my experience so far, driving between each township and borough, people tend to drive pretty fast which always startles me because I never know where I'm going! :) And everyone I've met here so far has been extremely nice and friendly!
Debbie Billeter February 19, 2012 at 04:52 PM
I have to say that your story gives a hint as to why you might be hearing more horns than the rest of us. You don't do the speed limit (trust me, if you watch for the signs that say to slow down for a curve, the speed limit is perfectly safe, or PennDOT would surely lower it.) You don't know where you are going, and you don't pull off the road when possible to let traffic go around you. Five cars piled up behind you is three cars too many. In Cali, they have those other eight lanes, seven if you don't count the HOV. In Pittsburgh there are only a few places that have more than two lanes and where there are more, it's for short distances. You might consider some adult driver training, because you learned to drive in the LA straightaways and our hills and curves are foreign. I know that when I came here 35 years ago, I had to learn to deal with the very steep hills and way more curves than I was used to. But I was young, you have lots of driving experience and might need some outside perspective.

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