I thought I had seen it all until I moved to Brooklyn. Brooklyn drivers were way worse than Manhattan drivers, who basically have to give up driving altogether and just inch from light to light, block to block. Brooklyn drivers were—well the best word to use would be ... improvisational. Staying in lanes, using signals—these were all just suggestions to most Brooklyn drivers in my experience. Maybe being just a "drive through" for the bridge and tunnel crowd on the way from New Jersey to Manhattan or Staten Island or Long Island does something to a Brooklynite. At least, once they get behind the wheel.
And then I moved to Washington, D.C. The worst driving that I had seen yet. For some reason, the moment you cross the Potomac into Virginia the adrenaline levels of the drivers raise astronomically. It's a tooth and nail fight just to change lanes on 95. The Beltway isn't just an outer and inner loop of highway that surrounds D.C. It is an obsession. I can't tell you how many times a perfectly intelligent conversation would devolve into, "What route did so and so take to get there", "What route would they try to go home?" And everyone would chime in, with a favorite traffic/driving secret. I was never so bored by a topic in my life. These traffic symposiums hit their absolute nadir when I was pregnant. Helpful and wonderful people tried to assist me in plotting myriad routes to the hospital for "when the times comes." I put my foot down and told them I already planned on taking the simplest route, with the biggest streets. I didn't care if we could shave off another five minutes by their very special Georgetown shortcut. End of discussion.
That all seems child's play now, even entertaining, compared to the way people drive here. And it's not just the traditional "little old ladies from Pasadena," although they are admittedly a factor. Is it the fact that so many folks are here on vacation, or originally from other parts of the country, with different traffic patterns? Also maybe be a factor. But what is mostly bugging me is the poor quality of driving (I like to drive, in case you haven't already guessed.) It's the bobbing and weaving in traffic. The inconsistent driving—first too fast and then abruptly slowing down. The total disregard for traffic lights.
I've puzzled about what exactly is the problem, because the traffic and "rush hour" here is nothing compared to what I'm used to. And then I figured it out. These folks don't know what it is to encounter a real traffic jam, or god forbid, a presidential motorcade. But they drive like they think they know what city driving is like. Like they think they know what any driving is like. They're amateurs.