Thoughts on Driving Habits in IL, TN and VA

I’ve lived in three states and have some interesting observations on drivers in these areas. I find it quite interesting that people can have such distinct characteristics from region to region.

Illinois - #1 of 3 Fast and assertive.

Central Illinois – Rank #1 of 3
Fast and assertive.  Going places.

Illinois is my yardstick, where I was born and raised, and how I base much of my opinion on proper driving etiquette. Non-Chicago drivers honestly are pretty good. In Illinois we like to drive fast and see just how many cars we can get through once the light turns yellow or red. It can make left turns a little challenging when you have to wait and wait and then go.  Sometimes when your light turns green you have to look both ways before accelerating for stragglers. Yikes. If you’re going 5-10 miles over the speed limit, that’s just about right. People can be a little rude, but generally not that bad.


Nashville – Rank #3 of 3.
Behind the wheel, we’re all tourists.

Tennessee drivers, or at least Nashville drivers, in general all drive like they’re on tourists and have never seen the route they’re on, whether they’re local or not! Nashville has a lot of lanes that are left or right turn only, and it’s amazing how many people go cruising along in one of these lanes and then suddenly slam on their brakes because OMG I NEED TO GO STRAIGHT. They bring two whole lanes of traffic to a stop as they wait to change lanes in what is typically busy traffic. If you’ve lived in Nashville more than a few days you should know ahead of time where most of these turn-only lanes are, or at the very least those on your regular commute. Add to this an interstate system with an inappropriate amount of on and off ramps and the confusion doubles. I also have never in my life seen more people go down one way streets the wrong way – my record in one day is seeing four. Again, if you live in this city you shouldn’t be making this mistake so often! Nashville drivers also have a knack for crowding their cars into the intersection when the light turns yellow (and obviously red shortly after) preventing the cars in the other direction from going on their green light. How frustrating. Aside from all the problems, Nashville drivers are probably the nicest of the three groups.

New River Valley - Rank #2 of 3. Don't understand how passing works. A few too many crazies in the mix.

New River Valley – Rank #2 of 3.
Nobody understand how the passing lane works. A few absolute psychopaths in the mix.

Virginia drivers are an interesting bunch. 95% of the drivers are nice and courteous, as you’d expect in the South (well…not we’re not that far south.) If you put your signal on they’ll gladly make room to let you merge. They wait their turn patiently during the occasional traffic backups. Honks are infrequent. However, that last 5% is some of the meanest, nastiest drivers I’ve ever seen. They seriously try to cut you off or run you off the road for no reason. You put your signal on and they do everything they can to prevent you from changing lanes.  It’s weird and I have no explanation for it. The other strange thing about Virginia drivers, which drives me crazy coming from speedy Illinois, is that everybody thinks it’s okay to drive 10 miles under the speed limit in the left/passing lane. This happens nearly every day and I just don’t get it. Move over!


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