Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Death Race 2000 Meets Narcissus: Ruminations On Bad Drivers In Two States

I noticed something funny after returning from my trip to Georgia; my driving experiences down south didn't imbue me with the rageahol overdose I manage to stumble into with alarming frequency while driving in bucolic Fargo. I remember being amused rather than homicidal at the antics of Georgia drivers. I remember calm rather than rage. Humor rather than blinding hate.

I didn't realize it until the first time I drove a car after getting back north. Some turd-smeared douche inconsiderate motorist performed what I've come to call the Fargo Maneuver[*]: passing a car not because the car is travelling too slowly, but rather because one wants to be in front.

This immediately made my blood boil. I wished for the 1,001st time that .50-cal machine guns were available options on a 2001 F-150. I had visions of the driver's bullet-ridden corpse tied to my hood like a deer carcass, a sign hung around his neck which read, "TARDS BE WARNED". For once, though, this feeling didn't linger until I made it home and ineffecutally punched a pillow. Instead, I had an epiphany about the difference between regions when it comes to "bad driving".

I firmly believe that bad driving is endemic to every state, city, town, village, and family in America. It's just a given. But the way this manifests itself is very different from group to group. In North Dakota, drivers have a "me first" mentality. They aren't in a hurry per se, they just want to be first in line. They don't want to wait at anything, whether it be a red light, a stop sign, a yield sign, a funeral procession, what have you. They have an inherent belief in the primacy of their own needs.

In the south (and Georgia in particular), the mentality is one of pure speed. Bad drivers do all the stupid things they do in North Dakota, they just do them 30 m.p.h. faster. Red lights are suggestions. Yield signs are for tourists. There's not much problem with funeral processions, but only because funeral processions are doing 65 all the way to the boneyard anyway.

The commute on Veteran's Parkway in Columbus, GA earlier this month.

To give just one example from my recent trip, Donna and I were sitting at red light on Veteran's Parkway (formerly Beallwood Connector). As the cross light turned red, not one, not two, not three, not four, but FIVE cars ran the red light. That's insane. It's patently illegal. The crazy thing though is that no one honked a horn, rolled down the window and yelled, or gave a middle finger salute. After the chain of lightrunners were on their way, traffic resumed normally. I didn't notice at the time, but I don't think my blood pressure went up even one point.

Why am I so passive and accepting of episodes like this when some idiot in an '87 Civic running through a red light on University Drive in Fargo makes me want to kill?


It's the biggest difference between the two states' bad drivers. Georgia drivers are rude, merciless and psychotic. But they're quick about it. They weave into the other lane and pass you because you're going too slow. They run red lights, but they do it fast. In North Dakota, people pass you because they want to be at the front of the line. They don't want to go fast once they get there. Most of the time, they want to go slow. But they want to be slow at the front. That guy in the '87 Civic? It took him longer to get through that red light than it took those five cars in Georgia.

A driver runs a red light in downtown Fargo.

The North Dakota driver tends to do dumb things for the sake of showing you he can. He looks at you as he sloooowwwly goes through a red light as if to say, "I'm running this light and there's nothing you can do about it." The Georgia driver didn't even see you. He was too busy trying to, you know, hurry up and get through the red light.

The North Dakota driver speeds up when he sees you waiting to enter the road. Once he sees you aren't going, he slows down. The Georgia driver speeds up when he sees you waiting, speeds up when he sees you aren't going, and speeds up again when he sees you pull out behind him.

The North Dakota driver slows down at every green light, presumably just in case the light turns yellow. All the better to slowly run the red light to follow. The Georgia driver is already through the intersection and running the red light two blocks up.

I guess it all comes down to preference. I prefer my bad drivers to drive badly from the pure motivation of speed. In the meantime I need to find a local welder who can rig me up a .50 cal mount.

[*] the other move Fargo drivers have down is a corollary to the Fargo Maneuver: staying in the rightmost lane on the interstate while traffic is trying to merge in without adjusting speed to let anybody in. They don't speed up. They don't slow down. But once they get past the on-ramp, then they move over to the left lane.


  1. It's the same in Mpls. People get in front of you to slow down, try to stay in front of you when merging, and only put on a turn signal once they've entered the "turn only" lane. However, I do find that when they run red lights, it's usually pretty swiftly.

    As part of this incessant need to be in front, you may also notice that if you start to pass someone from either the left or right lane on the highway, they will speed up. It's actually kind of fun when you realize it's happening because if you slow down then speed up the other driver will often mirror your speed.

  2. I can't speak for Minneapolis drivers in town, but on the interstate my experience has been that there are two groups of people: those that drive 10mph over the limit and those that drive 30mph over. If it weren't for the sheer density on 35W, 494, etc, I'd much prefer to drive there than in Fargo.

  3. Georgia , North Dakota or Flordia it may be any city, state... bad drivers are always bad drivers they may be some sort of difference between them but when coming to the end these peoples are major role in accidents, where we lost our beloved ones... childs.. many others