Driving Me Crazy
Why is no one in this city capable of operating a motor vehicle?
Getting annoyed with this city is part of living here, I know.
The boil orders. The crime. The messed-up streets. The confusing and not-great school system. The termite swarms and the flying cockroaches and the predatory camera tickets.
And mostly, it balances out, right?
You eat the perfect oyster poor boy (dressed, extra pickles, extra lemon) or have a sublime night of live music or make lifelong friends at a crawfish boil or catch a beautiful sunset over Lake Pontchartain or walk past a sweet olive tree on a spring day – and all is forgiven if not forgotten.
I’ve written some version of this blog probably 10 times since I started writing in 2009 – maybe even more.
I love living here. (And I am not really fit to live anywhere else.) I love the river and I love the lake and I love drive-thru daiquiris and I love 80-degree December days. I love my neighbors. I love my friends. I love chocolate sno-balls with condensed milk. I even love the humid summers, and I’ll take a hurricane over an earthquake any day.
But my God, I hate driving here. I lived in Missouri for 10 years, and I got into two accidents (one my fault, one the other driver’s fault) that whole time. I had been back in New Orleans for maybe a month before I had a guy back into me in a parking lot (I was in the car; he gave me $100 and we called it good), followed shortly by being rear-ended while making a U-turn on Vets, followed shortly by a car taking off my side-view mirror and denting my door while I was parked (they left a business card under the windshield wipers, but it was bogus). Meanwhile, my ex-husband, who had been in one car accident as a teenager in Missouri, was T-boned by an uninsured driver running a stop sign on Canal Street and then rear-ended in traffic on Metairie Road. We had a collective five accidents in about three months in NOLA.
Since then, I’ve honestly lost track.
I am a good driver, I swear! I haven’t been at fault in an accident since 1999! I’ve never gotten so much as a speeding ticket!
And yet, I’ve been rear-ended now twice in less than two months! In neither of these cases was I swerving into lanes or slamming on my brakes suddenly or doing anything crazy. Both times, both on April 15 and yesterday, I was stopped in traffic and had been for some time! And I wasn’t even out late or anything. One accident happened around 8 a.m., the other around 1:30 p.m.
The first accident was understandable to some degree: A 16-year-old kid, driving in the rain, in a hurry to get to school, whatever, that can happen anywhere.
The one yesterday though? I was stopped in traffic at South Broad and Erato when a car slammed into me. I got out of my car, shaken up, and the guy who hit me said, “Hang on, sweetheart, I’ll pull over …” and then sped away the wrong way down Erato, too fast for me to do much of anything besides get a vehicle description and a partial license plate. My phone was in my purse, which had gone flying in the collision, so I couldn’t get a picture or anything.
Luckily the kids weren’t with me, and I wasn’t really hurt (I have a headache and my lower back is sort of sore), and my car, a 2012 Mazda with 125,000 miles on it is not really some great loss.
It’s not like I’m going to move or anything, but it’s no mystery why our insurance rates are through the roof in this city. And as the mom of a 14-year-old daughter who is itching to get behind the wheel ASAP, I’m terrified.
I know New Orleanians in general drink too much, but in the vast majority of the accidents I’ve been involved in, I don’t suspect alcohol was a factor.
So what is it, do you think? Why are New Orleanians so freaking bad at driving?
Please share your thoughts or commiserate in the comments.