Friday, October 2, 2009

OZARK ROAD ETIQUETTE

The bad always make the news. I want to compliment those who behave properly and receive no notice. Because they are behaving so instinctively good, they are probably unaware that their behavior is remarkable. This is a shout out to the Ozark Mountain drivers.


I lived in Florida for many years and have traveled to several large cities out side of Florida, so I do have a comparison. Florida drivers are not the best, partially due to the fact that there are very few native Floridians. The native has been watered down by the huge influx of tourists. Not many natives remain. Thus the highways are full of people from many states with different ideas of road courtesy, sometimes, no idea of courtesy.




The freeways are where turf wars are fought daily. Speed means survival and but can also mean the end. To travel just the speed limit on I-95 for instance, would cause an accident. At least 10 miles over the limit is necessary for your survival and those sharing the road with you. Driving on either coast of Florida is a thrill ride.


The farther south you travel, the shorter your life expectancy. Luckily I mostly lived in the center of the state. If you have ever traveled cross state in Florida, you realize that 90% of the people in the state live clinging to the coastline, hoping for a glimpse of the ocean and a share of the tourist dollar.


There is not much in the middle of the state besides cows (both dairy and beef), vegetable farms, alligators and orange groves once you remove Disney from the equation. With the glut of cars fighting for road space in the hectic coastal areas, anger seems to ride in most cars as a non-buckled in passenger. The sad thing is even if they never have an accident, the anger itself is life shortening.


What immediately impressed me when I moved here, was the Ozark Road Etiquette and lack of anger. Now if you go to Little Rock or any congested Arkansas city, you may find attitudes similar to Florida. I can only speak for the Ozark Mountain Manners.



Our roads are for the most part, narrow, two lane, very curvy, with periodic high accents and low gear descents. Most of our serious accidents here are single car involvement where someone just tries to take the curves to fast.

Passing lanes are very brief and for that reason, there is a very refreshing show of patience. Often you only have the length of a football field to pass another vehicle. The double yellow line dominates. Most everyone drives with a built in cushion of time in case they get stuck behind a slow moving vehicle. I think that is one of the differences between us and large cities, that built in cushion of time.


Rarely do people tailgate just for the sake of tailgating. They quickly realize speeds are probably not going to pick up, there is fat chance to pass, so they just fall several car lengths back, relax and work on that morning coffee. If you do get behind someone who is driving very timidly and slowly, the offender will invariably find a wide spot on the side of the road and pull off letting the more aggressive pass safely.


Though I usually drive a bit over the speed limit, if someone is on my bumper, I too will pull over when safe and let him go ahead. Tailgating is rare but when it occurs, they are only on my bumper because of the previously mentioned tiny passing zones and are probably late for work. They forgot or had something tamper with their time cushion. After you pull over and allow them to pass, they always wave appreciation and I do mean "wave." The middle finger salute is just not done here.


Car horns I am sure just die of rust, never of overuse. No one honks if the light changes and you don't leave a rubber trail accelerating through the intersection. The ONLY time I have heard a horn used is when my neighbor's dog is too close to the road or a friend drives by.


Because of the twisty nature of our roads, when someone asks you how far someplace is, we measure in time it takes to travel, not distance. I always allow extra time for travel when an appointment is over 40 miles away. Yes, that ole time cushion.


You never know when you will get behind a log truck,semi, or an RV. These large vehicles often can't find a spot to pull over and you are stuck. But that is OK for the scenery is wonderful and since I have allotted enough time, I take the slower speeds as an opportunity to just enjoy.

Only have one recommendation if you are traveling the Ozark roadways. Make sure you are the passenger, for the driver has to concentrate on driving and can't fully enjoy the really jaw dropping scenery.

Do hope you live in a peaceful area.


Happy Motoring.

19 comments :

  1. Patti, having lived in and driven the streets of Nashville, Pensacola and Hot Springs, all of which are mostly full of drivers from everywhere, I know exactly what you mean!! :)

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  2. So true, Patti! Little Rock drivers have a bit of the Florida syndrome and it's not my favorite place to have to drive, but out here in the boonies, with few exceptions (mostly young folk), drivers are very courteous. My awards for Driving Hell go to Houston, TX and Washington, DC. I limit myself to those two simply because I have never been to California!! LOL

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  3. Amen! from a fellow Arkansan.

    My tiny complaint is usual lack of road shoulder for my SUV tank to safely park for photo ops of the always amazing scenery. I try to find driveways and pray someone doesn't come along with immediate need for access.

    Need for a place to park is hampering my getting a better picture of the new accessory sitting on Bull Shoals Dam in my FOTO FRIDAY Post. <:~)>

    Enjoy weekend.

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  4. The terrain there must be similar to my home state of WV. If you take your eyes off the road there, you may find yourself plummeting down into a chasm you can't see the bottom of!

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  5. well I had almost forgotten about driving on those 2 lane curvy roads...Here we also have many snow birds driving around especially this time of the year...I know to always watch out for them. They are often older than dirt and richer than God...a scary combination....

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  6. If your road photo is a common example of the roads you travel, well no wonder everyone is in no hurry. I live in a rural area too, but the the cities are advancing slowly but surely.

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  7. Carol,
    I have been in Nashville and Pensacola and do understand. Hot Springs is on my list. Guess I should plan on going during the week huh.

    Pat,
    Know what you mean. I have been known to go to Missouri in lieu of Little Rock for shopping. I will do my best to stay away from the Driving Hell cities you mentioned.

    Nitwit,
    Oh how I know. Here we have such beautiful views and now way to capture them. That is why I loved riding a motercycle, always room to pull off when there are only 2 wheels.

    kenju,
    We aren't quite as bad as WV but the first year I was here, I did have some breath sucking moments trying to enjoy the views and nearly veering off the road and down the mountain.

    4th Sister,
    They really slow you down don't they? Snow birds were the scourge of Florida. Just wish I were rich enough to be one. I am old enough but that isn't enough. Need the coins.

    Wanda,
    Actually that was a good stretch of road in the photo. Not my pic but I know where it was taken.
    I know, when you find a good spot, pretty soon every one wants to live there.

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  8. Hooray for the Ozarks and Southern Hospitality! I love our home state!

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  9. Hi Patti, There are so many advantages of living in a rather rural area, aren't there???? I would never want to live near or in a big city again. We just prefer the 'slowness' and courteousness of life here on the Cumberland Plateau.
    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  10. Driving there actually sounds fairly peaceful compared to Los Angeles. Horns seemed to be used quite often if the person behind you doesn't think you are going fast enough....Everyone is in a HUGE Hurry here and no one knows the word "patience"....! Short fuses abound on The Freeways and the streets, alike. Nobody is curteous here---they are too involved with themslves and getting to where they need to go. The middle finger signal might as well be listed in the California Driver's Manuel Book! (LOL)

    I would love to see the Beautiful countryside there---I know it is Beautiful!

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  11. Janie B.
    You bet Janie. Southern Hospitality is wonderful to be a part of. Too bad we can't bottle it.

    Betsy,
    The only draw city life has for me is shopping and I can get by with out it for long stretches. We are both lucky.

    OOLOH
    "The middle finger signal might as well be listed in the California Driver's Manuel Book." Perfect for too many cities.

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  12. I hate driving in cities. I've lived all my life in a rural area of Virginia and mainly travel on narrow two lane roads. In this part of the country everyone waves to everyone they pass whether they know them or not - just being friendly.

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  13. Well I've driven in many places and Mexico City was really bad, 5 lanes in one direction and no one stayed in their lane and then the Baja with absolutely no shoulder and skinny lanes and big rigs coming from the other direction and me hoping they stayed in their lane. Country drivers are generally more courteous if they aren't driving to the big city to work. Texas drivers routinely pull over on the shoulder to let you by. In California pulling over on the shoulder isn't legal unless there are 5 cars behind you. Arkansas drivers were great, but when I first lived there I was caught off guard when a funeral procession of cars went by and everyone stopped in both directions right on the highway no matter where they were.

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  14. Niiice! Lucky you is all I can say :)
    Your post makes me wanna visit Ozark & enjoy the picturesque drive.

    Imagine the bang opposite of the scenario you have described & you can vaguely picture my city (Bangalore, India). But I enjoy driving nevertheless. These days its raining and I enjoy the drive even more..

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  15. Sweet Virginia Breeze,
    Thank you so much for stopping by TNS. Welcome.
    We are big time wavers here also but it almost gets almost ridiculous when you are on foot. Sitting on my front porch gives me all the upper arm exercise I need. Sounds like I am complaining, but I love it.

    Linda Starr,
    You have seen all types haven't you? Glad to herer Texas is in the good guy mix.
    We also pulled over for funerals in rural Florida and I was glad to see it done here, though it is nerve wracking with almost no shoulders. It is a sweet sign of respect.

    Lost world
    Poor baby, you can have it. Sure don't envy you. Large city driving around the world is mainly for the brave.

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  16. Only you could write an interesting post about traffic and driving etiquette. But, I don’t believe you are right about all those patient Ozark drivers. Here’s my theory. Patient drivers are everywhere and nasty ones are everywhere. If you’re cranky going somewhere else isn’t going to make you not cranky – My brother who abides in outback country Virginia would vigorously disagree with me.

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  17. Grayquill
    Thanks.
    What if you are cranky but you go somewhere you don't NEED to be cranky and there is no one to make you cranky, are you still cranky?
    Gotta go with your brother here.

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  18. Other than when I have to be somewhere at a specific time, I always take the back roads. Always looking for the perfect picture.
    Drivers in the boonies are more polite and patient than in the city!
    Sunny :)

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  19. Sunny,
    Totally agreee and that explains some of your great photography.
    Our roads usually have no shoulders so we just have to go Awww and get no pictures.

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