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Interests: Anarcho-Capitalism, Critical Rationalism, Moral Skepticism, Cranky Atheism, Drunken Journalism
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Thank you, Dr. Grace, for broaching a topic on which I can expound at length. I am a Virginia driver now, but I have been at various points in my life a New York driver, a California driver, a Florida driver and I spent the bulk of my driving life as a New Jersey driver. I've also driven in both Atlanta and Boston. Atlanta drivers, I must tell you, struck me as completely unremarkable, much like California drivers (at least, Bay Area drivers -- I'm much less familiar with L.A., but we've all heard the horror stories there) and, since you bring them up, Pennsylvania drivers. And I'd venture that, when it comes to driving, if a group of drivers fails to make an impression, that probably means they're pretty good. Boston drivers, on the other hand, routinely break even the laws of physics. As to the New York/New Jersey thing, this is an ongoing debate for decades that I remember frequently being the subject of feature stories on the local broadcast networks. New Jersey drivers think New York drivers are the worst. New York drivers think New Jersey drivers are the worst. Having been both, and having the perspective of driving in many, many different areas of the country, I must report I've seen very little difference between the two. Driving in Manhattan, specifically, is a more intense experience than driving either in New Jersey or the New York suburbs -- particularly due to the cabbies -- but the actual driving behavior remains fairly constant. Manhattan just happens to have many more drivers per square inch of road, confined into a smaller space and moving at a more rapid pace than you'd generally see on the suburban highways. When drivers of either state report their frustration with drivers of the other, they're really just suffering from a form of negative confirmation bias. No one notices the good drivers. You'd only notice when a driver cuts you off or otherwise annoys you. Drivers of your own cohort are unlikely to leave an impression such that you'd group them together (since that group must necessarily also include YOU), but out-of-state drivers do. North Jerseyans (who represent the bulk of the state population) are most likely to encounter New Yorkers on the road, just as downstate New Yorkers are most likely to encounter drivers from Jersey. Hence, the impression each retains that the other set is awful, en masse. For what it's worth, my impression is that Florida, in fact, has the absolute worst drivers in terms of their actual skills behind the wheel. Yes, I'm guilty of ageism, but certain things can't be denied -- one's sight and reflexes deteriorate as you grow older, and Florida's got a whole lot of old people. Thankfully, in South Florida, where most of them are concentrated, the traffic is usually too thick for them to do much real damage. But I'd note that just having a lot of bad drivers isn't actually the most important factor in contrasting regional driving culture. The key thing is any individual driver's expectations. If you know how other drivers will behave and react, then you can adjust accordingly, but if those behaviors are inconsistent, or vary substantially from your own, that's when you get into trouble. I wrote about this some time ago in a post about, well, why driving in D.C. is such an awful experience for one used to the New York metro.