I'm getting closer and closer to my one-year anniversary of moving to New Orleans! The milestone has made me think about all the good things I love about New Orleans – Red beans and rice! Festivals! Go-cups! – but it has also reminded me about one thing I am still adjusting to here: the mean drivers.
Driving is one of the toughest things when you move to a new place because not knowing your way around can be a huge inconvenience. When I first moved here, I got lost all the time and I hated it. I have since become a lot better about New Orleans, as I can now go from Metairie to Mid-City to Uptown without my GPS. But in addition to adjusting to the roads and directions, I have had to get used to New Orleans drivers. And some of them scare me.
A few weeks ago, a girl in a Toyota Corolla or something like that, started tailgating me on a one-lane street when I was on my way to work. She then proceeded to honk at me. When I glanced in my rearview mirror, I saw that she was also waving her right hand at me, motioning for me to go faster. It made me frazzled and nervous, but we were in a residential area, and after having to pay $110 for one of those traffic camera tickets, I was not about to speed just so some rude stranger could go a little faster.
Then yesterday, an intimidating black pickup was tailgating me on Veterans. He seemed to come out of nowhere and I almost felt like he was going to come charging through my back windshield until he abruptly switched lanes and sped by me. Over the past 11 months, I have also noticed a lot of tailgating, running of red lights and weaving in and out of lanes. It makes me nervous for my own safety and the safety of everyone else.
And I'm not the only out-of-towner who has noticed this. My New Orleans-transplant friends are always complaining about drivers here. I also chatted about it with some people when I was on this podcast for ItsNewOrleans.com, and they agreed that it's smart to wait a second after a light turns green to see if anyone runs a red light.
Why are the drivers in New Orleans like this? Is driving dangerously a New Orleans thing?
Those questions are probably hard to answer because everyone loves to complain about bad drivers all over the country. My boyfriend grew up in Maine and I lived in New England for 12 years, so I have heard many stories about the aggressive drivers of Massachusetts and beyond. A little bit further down the East Coast, Washington D.C. is bad, too. According to U.S. News & World Report, drivers there are 107.3 percent more likely to get in an accident.
I've also heard that Quebec drivers are nuts, but they tend to avoid accidents. So maybe that explains the mean New Orleans drivers? Maybe it's a Francophone thing? Possibly?
I really have no idea. Maybe drivers are just crazy everywhere, but I seem to be encountering a lot of mean and aggressive drivers in New Orleans lately. Please stay away from my bumper, people. You're causing me anxiety.