Driving 101: The Nashville Way

Nashville-trafficSince moving to Nashville in 2014, I have had the experience of being “trained” by my fellow drivers in the Music City.  A national magazine recently awarded Nashville as the friendliest city in America.  When I heard about this I said, “They obviously didn’t drive here.”  I’m not saying the traffic or drivers in Nashville are worse here than in other city, it’s just frustrating and not that good old country friendly feeling you would think.   Over the past four years, here are the rules I have learned for driving here:

  1. If you are already on the Interstate, you should stop and let merging traffic on.   Yes, believe it or not there are a lot of these drivers out there.  They will get mad and flip you off if they are entering from the ramp and you don’t stop to let them over.  They don’t seem to be able to comprehend the idea of merging.  Traffic already on the Interstate are not required to stop.  Drivers entering the Interstate need to adjust their speed and safely enter.  Shocking concept I know!
  2. What is a yield sign?  The city/county seriously wasted their money making yield signs.  I have seen – and reacted – to other drivers blowing through a yield sign.
  3. If a turn signal is being used, you’d better let me over.  First, you are lucky if someone actually uses a turn signal but when they do they are getting over.  It isn’t an “indicator” that they plan to get over, they are doing it.
  4. I’m too busy texting to use a turn signal.  I think this mentality goes with driving in general but seems to happen more when drivers are turning and simply don’t have a free hand to use their turn signal because their hands are too busy with their smartphones.
  5. I am late for work and MUST get in front of you.  Thousands of people converge into downtown Nashville daily and there are some who think THEY are the only ones trying to get to work.  They will zip in and out of lanes trying to get into the fastest one.
  6. A roundabout is the automobile version of Russian roulette.  I don’t know whose idea it was to put roundabouts in a major Southern U.S. city but drivers have no clue how to use it.  If you get in one of these traffic wheels of fortune you’d better prepare to get out soon.
  7. At a four-way stop *I* go first!  No one knows how four-way stops work.  You will soon find out who the arrogant/impatient people are when you approach one of these.  Forget about the rules of taking turns.
  8. I have no time to brake so you can make your turn.  Be are extremely impatient.  No Southern hospitality at all.  If you need to turn and use your turn signal, be prepared for nearly being pushed out of the way by the driver behind you.
  9. I don’t have to yield to pedestrians…EVER.  I will say that many times pedestrians walk when they aren’t supposed to but when they do, drivers don’t want to yield (yes, there’s that word again) and Nashville has increased in pedestrians being struck every year.
  10. I can do whatever I want to do….especially if the driver is driving a Lexus.   Basically people will do whatever they can get away with.  I have seen so many violations and just some really dumb and unsafe maneuvers that not much surprises me now.  And if the driver is driving a Lexus, you might want to be prepared for anything.

With the city of Nashville growing, the traffic situation grows worse.  It doesn’t seem like anyone has a plan to do anything about it.  One thing about Nashville and the Interstate highway system is that truckers are forced to come through downtown because there isn’t a true bypass around the city.  We have no transit system.  Yes, there is a train but the route is only on the eastside of town so most folks around here have to use their Lexus (and other cars) to navigate the traffic everyday.  Nashville drivers are a different breed.  If you come here, you’d better be ready with some patience and sing to your favorite country tunes.