Rules of the Road

Traffic Light

I’ve driven all across the country, and I have taken the driver’s test in several states over the years (California was, by far, the hardest test).  I had to renew my driver’s license this past year, which was basically an online renewal form.  It got me wondering how I’d fare with the driver’s test today?  Have the rules changed in recent years?  Driving around Charlotte, it sure seems like it.

So in case you’ve never driven in the Queen City, here are the rules of driving in my neck of the woods:

  1. Proper Lane Etiquette
    1. The left lane is for normal driving and the right lane is for passing unless you are coming up on an exit and then you must drive 10 mph less than the speed limit.
    2. If it is a three-lane road, the left lane is the driving lane, the middle is for passing, and the right lane is for Sonic the Hedgehog style driving (you must be going twice the speed limit and you earn kudos if you do it with your cell phone attached to your chin).
  2. Stop Signs
    1. Stops signs are optional.
    2. At a four-way stop, whoever hits the gas first has the right of way.
  3. Traffic Circles
    1. Unlike stop signs, you must come to a complete stop at every traffic circle (It is okay to stop here and check your cell phone for text messages).
    2. When you decide to go, make sure to do it slowly so that everyone must wait for you to find your exit from the circle.
  4. Traffic Lights
    1. As is common in many areas: Green means go, Yellow means go faster, and Red means floor it.
    2. Stopping at a red light is not required for the first 15 seconds or 3 cars whichever occurs first.
    3. No Turn On Red signs are just for decoration.
  5. Left Turn Lanes (Designated left turn lanes have the most complicated rules of all)
    1. If you are the first driver waiting in the left turn lane, you must play with your cell phone while you wait.
    2. Once the light changes to a Green Arrow, you must meticulously time your approach to the intersection so that yours is the only vehicle that can make the green light.
    3. The normal red light rules don’t apply. Once the first car perfectly times the green light, 5 more cars are allowed to run the red arrow (there is no time limit).
    4. If the light changes to a Yellow Flashing Arrow instead of a Green Arrow, you have the right of way as long as you beat the oncoming traffic to the intersection. Actually, it is like a game of Red Rover.  As long as the chain of turning cars is not broken by oncoming traffic, they maintain the right of way.
  6. Finally, using your cell phone while driving is standard practice. If you are not playing with your cell phone while driving then you are a novice and should be sent back to driving school.

I guess it’s a good thing I could do an online renewal.  I’m not sure I would pass the test today.

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