Y’all remember driver’s ed? … Yeah, me neither. My only memory is that I was starving half the time, and the other half I was making perverted jokes with my three girlfriends who were also taking the class with me. “Oh yeah, I’ll flick your blinker” left my mouth one too many times at the ripe old age of fifteen.
All hell broke loose when I finally got my license on my sixteenth birthday. Fun fact, I actually ran over an armadillo during my first solo outing. As soon as I moved back down to New Orleans for college, I threw caution to the wind and joined my fellow locals in the madness/joy/unfettered rage that is driving by your own set of rules.
If you’re a local, then these rules will already be familiar to you. If you’re an out-of-towner planning to visit, here’s your head’s up on how to get from Point A to Point B in your own vehicle. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Driving in New Orleans: The Rules and Regulations of the Road
1. Traffic lights don’t matter. I cannot tell you how many times I have begun to take off when the light turns green, only to be almost annihilated by a car running a red light. Perhaps it was just an innocent, colorblind man who couldn’t tell green from red, but damn. After a half dozen times of near-wreck experiences, I have finally discovered that waiting a good second after the light turns green is a great way to ensure that you won’t be mauled on your way to work/Commander’s for brunch/mistress’ house.
2. Blinkers aren’t things. This one gets me, you guys. If there’s one thing in this world I cannot stand (aside from Ebola scares, non-tippers, and hairless cats), it’s when people don’t use their blinkers. I’ve noticed this mainly happens on my beloved Carrollton Ave. Here I am, happily driving along at a moderate pace, when all of a sudden, I’m stepping on my brake and screaming for dear life because the car in front of me has come to a screeching halt. You have to let me know you’re turning. YOU HAVE TO LET ME KNOW.
3. Old people are allowed to drive. Let me preface this by stating that I love old people. I think they’re great. They have wonderful stories to tell, use words like “newfangled technology”, and rock elastic waistbands like no other. Now that I have the geriatric community on my side, I feel comfortable enough to state that I don’t think people over a certain age should be able to drive. First of all, they can’t see as well as they could in their younger years. Ever see an old person barely peeking over the steering wheel? YEAH, ME TOO. Shit’s scary. Secondly, they can’t hear very well, so even if you do honk your horn at them when they’re going 45mph on the Interstate, it’s not like it’ll matter, because they can’t hear you. Or see you.
4. You can’t turn left. Anywhere. Ever. You know how it’d be convenient for you to turn left to get to your friend’s house on Hickory? WELL FORGET IT. You must drive a mile down and risk your life making a u-turn because eff you and your gas tank, that’s why.
5. Two-way streets are as rare as a Louisiana politician without corruption charges. Ever experience that moment of I’m-about-to-shit-my-pants when you see a car coming head first your way? Cool, me too. Every single day in this city. What’s so wrong with two-way streets, New Orleans? I know. It’s because that’s too easy, and we like to consider ourselves overachievers. Let’s compare this rule to my relationship with any form of math: I fail at it.
6. Cyclists have their own lanes. I’m not entirely sure if this is a common thing in most cities, but I am entirely sure that the existence of bicycle lanes stresses me out to the max. Here I am cruising along, jamming out to Colour Revolt, you know… enjoying my day, when a man in Spandex wearing a helmet that makes him look like something from Alien CUTS IN FRONT OF ME from a one-way side street. By this point, not only am I hyperventilating because I just saw my life, and possibly another’s, flash before my eyes but I’m also crying because I had to swerve which caused me to hit a pothole and now my CD skips. Bicycle People, I love you, I respect you, but I’m terribly, terribly afraid of you.
7. They aren’t speed limits, they are speed suggestions. Dear People Who Set Speed Limits, do you really think everyone is staying under 50mph on Earhart Expressway? That’s all.
8. Oddly personalized license plates are strongly encouraged. “The standard three letter, three number combo is so last year”, says New Orleans. Here are a few from my own, personal photo gallery, because, while I am a Southern gal, sometimes I have no class.
So there you have it, folks. The rules and regulations of the roads here in our beloved city. It’s a scary world out there, but just remember
that slow and steady wins the race that you really don’t have to follow any rules! Ever! The road is your oyster. Your chargrilled… cheese covered… oyster.
Have any quirky driving “rules” to add to the list? Any funny stories? Drop them in our comments section!