In Our World

All the Slow-Turners are in the South

Maybe I'm just getting old. If I am, I hope that it doesn't involve the need to signal that I'm going to turn a mile down the road – and then come to a complete stop before starting up again to actually make the turn. I'll admit that…

Maybe I’m just getting old. If I am, I hope that it doesn’t involve the need to signal that I’m going to turn a mile down the road – and then come to a complete stop before starting up again to actually make the turn.

I’ll admit that it’s been a while since I’ve lived anywhere other than the South (approaching twenty years now), and when I did it was – gasp – California. But the people in North and South Carolina are really bad at turning.

We’ve already established that there appear to be more bus stops in Charlotte than, well, just about anywhere.

I know that the DMV lines can be bad, but that’s not unique to Charlotte (or the South) – that happens everywhere I’ve ever lived.

There may certainly be a correlation between Charlotte drivers and the issue they have with divided highways and understanding when to stop for a school bus – but frankly, based on my observation, they seem to come to a stop for just about anything other than a yellow light, and it’s not just unique to Charlotte. It seems to be the entire South. So I’m not sure what it is.

The Problem

This is actually a two-pronged issue.

Most commonly, you’re moving along and all of a sudden the speed drops. If the speed limit is 45, you find yourself traveling at perhaps 20. No school bus in sight, no people, rain, snow, dogs, or any other potential problems can be found. It just seems like there might be an issue. Usually this happens at the most inopportune time – like when a garbage truck pulls alongside, or a lengthy line of cars in a funeral procession starts moving by in the next lane, so you have no chance of passing. But it’s a fairly common happening.

At some point in the next 5 miles, you notice that this person starts looking all about – at first they seem lost, but then you realize that they are just looking around because they feel like it and have no concern for the fact that they are causing such inconvenience to the entire world. Eventually, they glide into the turn lane and you can finally be on your way. Unless they are turning into a driveway, or some other turn that approaches 90°. If that’s the case, they will come to a complete stop, at which point they will start moving only after reaching a state of zero momentum (and just about causing you to impale yourself on the rear of their car). Then they will pull into the driveway at approximately 5 miles per hour, where you can then be on your way. Assuming someone else doesn’t need to turn.

The next possibility is someone who may actually be traveling at a reasonable speed, but because they have recently turned, they have forgotten to turn their signal off. Since you just experienced this nightmare, you expect that they will drop their speed in half at any given moment. Usually this is actually not the case – instead, they will turn in the other direction – if the left signal is on, they turn right, if the left one is on, they turn left. Just enough to annoy you and completely disrupt traffic.

Why these jokers cannot realize that they do not have to coast for a few miles before turning, I do not know.

There is one other type of driver you might run into, and this is the person who doesn’t know how to use the turning lane. They will invariably wait until both lanes are clear on both sides of the road and then pull out. Or perhaps they will even pull their car perpendicular to the turning lane, blocking it and at least one of the travel lanes on each side of the turning lane. Nice.

The Solution

Move. Either move their car (unlikely, but the most relevant solution to the problem) or move somewhere that the problem doesn’t exist, or that it doesn’t bother you. Perhaps somewhere that you expect people to drive in this manner. I suggest Amish Country.