Different places, different driving

Driving in the USA can be an adventure if one survives. Each place and each different state has its rules but the unwritten rules are what can be exasperating to a stranger. It dawned on me the other day that I have driven in all 50 states, some of them more than once, and some foreign countries. Our road trip in Ireland stands out to us like no other trip. Fortunately we had no children with us. Each trip in each place was different enough to be noteworthy.
As I said, each place has its own set of unwritten rules and if you are going to be in that place for more than a short visit, you should better learn them as quickly as possible. For instance: Here in the Tulsa area one should count to a minimum of “one-thousand one, one-thousand two” before progressing after a red light turns green. There is a 10 to 9 chance some driver approaching from the other direction, at the speed of sound from 100 yards away (that’s 91.44 meters for those less advanced countries), who will speed up to make the yellow light before it turns red . Many times this will be a cowboy-wannabe in a yodiedodie pickup truck about half the size of a Sherman tank. If you go as you are legally entitled to do, then there will be some slow walking and sad singing in your family. But not all drivers in the Tulsa area are like that. Nosir, some of them will sit for a long time at a green light and finish their phone conversation or text while your doctor’s appointment time draws ever closer to starting without you. They seldom pull in front of an approaching vehicle but they do cause strokes and heart attacks behind them.
Driving in another state is often adventurous because those people do not understand the proper way to conduct themselves on the highway or city. Take Arkansas (please, please take Arkansas) and Tennessee people’s driving habits. Arkansas is the next state east of Oklahoma and Tennessee is the one east of that. They really do not know what real driving is. We have driven in both those states a number of times and it is a little bit scary. Those people are spoiled and have no idea what driving on a real highway, where one has to constantly adjust and handle the car, can be like.
Last year we left Knoxville, TN and drove all the way to Broken Arrow, OK in one long trip. The highways in Tenn. are wide and smooth and are pitched just correctly. One can relax and steer straight down the highway and have plenty of time to get ready for curves. The curves are banked so that helps with the steering. Now this sissy way of driving is the same in Arkansas. The major highways in South and North Carolina are close to that but their smaller highways are real highways.
But here in Oklahoma there is none of that sissy stuff. Nosirreebob! Here you have to be a manly man to drive past the speed limit. (OH, excuse me, or a womanly woman with cat like reflexes--there! Is that better!) Once one enters Oklahoma from Arkansas there is no doubt one has entered a new terror-tory.  It is two hands on the wheel, dodge the broken places without swerving and compensate for articles other Okies have left for you on the roadway. Many Okies will leave large objects on the roadway so you will get the practice of dodging them. This will prepare you for the roads in Okie cities which are crumbling from lack of maintenance.  We are not all that much in favor of fixing roads and bridges here.
As you hit the first Okie highway you feel the immediate change in the steering wheel as your tires encounter the new road. You immediately feel the thump, thump of the front end as it bounces on the uneven pavement. After being on those smooth roads one knows that he/she must start “driving” to maintain control. Now it become fun.  You must change your mindset rapidly as you have been lulled into thinking that driving was easy. Slowing down is not an option as 65 or 70 semi-trucks will run over you without even being aware of the mess they left behind. They rule the roads in Oklahoma and Arkansas.  Many of the drivers you will encounter have a simple rule for driving: “Here I come, Look Out!” Wellsir, it works for them.
One other difference you will notice is that in Oklahoma you must pay to drive on many major highways.. After all, we like for other states to have our federal money.
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