While reading today’s newspaper I learned one out of five drivers in New Jersey and other states in the northeast U.S. failed a two-part test on their knowledge of the rules of the road. Excuse me.
“Watch it, @$$hole! I’m tryin’ to drive here!”
Sorry, it’s not easy to read the paper while driving. In truth, New Jersey drivers should be applauded for our ingenuity. We are more capable to multitask than drivers from every other state. Pardon me.
“Move it Grandpa! Crank up the model T or I’ll crank it for ya!”
Sheesh. Where was I? Oh yeah. Multitasking. The prime example being there are no self-respecting Jersey girls who do not know how to put on their make-up using the rearview mirror, redirected from its intended purpose, while steering with their knees through rush hour traffic.
Maneuvering the highways and byways of New Jersey used to be easy. All you had to do was flip off a rude driver and be done with it—
“Hey! Dipstick! This is my lane, for crying out loud! No! You are not trying to cut me off, Mr. Lexus-driving-Dunkin’-Donut-eating moron. Get back! Back! It’s MY LANE!”
Damn, dealing with the other drivers on the roads in Jersey requires creativity and adjusting the rules to fit practical applications. It might be nice to know that the best drivers are from Oregon, but put them on Route One at rush hour and let’s see them survive a few jug handles, a circle or two and a million freakin’ minivans. ‘Scuse me.
“What the hell are you doing? That’s a right turn lane, you dipwad! Get outta my way!”
New Jersey drivers have a bad rep, but the truth is it’s all those drivers from Pennsylvania and New York coming to New Jersey, driving on our roads, that gives us the bad rep. We were forced to resort to innovative and unique driving methods in order to survive behind the wheel. In the interest of helping so-called “good drivers” from other states cope with the apparently arduous task of driving on New Jersey roads, I’ve put together a list of “New Jersey Road Rules”.
1: If a person is driving along with their arm out the window, they are not signaling a turn. This is New Jersey, for crying out loud, not the Ozarks. We do not use archaic hand signals. The auto manufacturers made blinkers for a reason, and by God we use them.
2: We do use a few hand signals, or rather gestures, commonly known throughout most of the world. Those gestures at no time can be misconstrued as a signal to turn.
3: A New Jersey driver who is eating a burger, balancing a cold drink between their legs, changing radio stations, and reading a map is a slacker. We have the ability to do all of that plus read the newspaper, type on our laptop, talk on our hand held cell phone, and light a cigarette or flick a butt out the window. If we are doing less than five things while driving, we are just cruising and not living up to our potential.
4: Cell phones. The law says we cannot use hand held cell phones while driving. In New Jersey many of us do, and those of us who don’t have found a way around that law by using an earpiece and voice dial feature freeing up our hands for more important tasks like re-folding the newspaper, turning the pages of the map books, combing our hair and sipping our iced lattes.
5: While in New Jersey it would be polite if drivers from other states would refrain from using main roads or major highways. I only suggest this because the sight of out of state plates only serves to irritate the true New Jerseyan, and elevates the risk of the owner of the out of state car ending up in a pile-up when they signal a left turn using their good for nothing hand signals, causing the New Jersey driver to swerve around them shouting “Eat my exhaust!”
6: If you are from out of state, and must drive in New Jersey, please learn that it is “down the shore,” and the left turns from the right lanes are made at “jug handles”.
7: In New Jersey pedestrians have the right of way “IN THE CROSSWALKS.” Pedestrians will forget the crucial “IN THE CROSSWALKS” part of this, and sometimes need to put in their place, or in traction, should they insist on crossing the streets any old place they feel like crossing.
8: It is okay to see an elderly person crossing the street while you are driving and say aloud, “two points.”
9: There is an art to flipping the bird, and it should not be done by amateurs, or namby pamby drivers who are not ready to engage in some real road rage tactical driving.
10: New Jersey is the garden state, so don’t toss your garbage out the window when traveling at a high speed, such as 20 or 30 miles over the speed limit. We want to keep New Jersey clean.
11: Speed limits are for wimps.
12: It is acceptable to do just about anything while driving, as long as you don’t get caught. Jersey girls (and guys) know it is okay to flash truckers, but not school buses.
13: Do not get into a debate over which goes faster, the red Iroc or the black Iroc. It is a no win argument. And don’t claim the Z28 can beat both of them, unless you want your candy ass kicked from Atlantic City to Hoboken.
14: If you’ve got a bumper sticker bearing the name of a heavy metal band from the 80s on your car, it is acceptable to drive in most New Jersey communities, but if you have a Liz Phair bumper sticker on your car, I would suggest limit driving to college areas only.
15: Just because it’s called a traffic jam doesn’t mean it can’t travel at 70 miles per hour.
These are just some helpful tips for you should you ever find yourself driving on the roadways of New Jersey. Now if you’ll excuse me once again, I need to save this on my laptop, finish my drink, check the road map to make sure I’m close to where I want to be, re-fold my newspaper, and change the radio station, while crossing three lanes of traffic.
Robert is the author of the novels Cool Mint Blue, Melba Ridge, and the recently released The Adventures of Homosexual Man and Lesbian Lad; and the creator of the on-line comix Impure Thoughts found at his web site Inside R.A. Melos, as well as having been an on-line staff writer for QBliss where he had a monthly humor column, Maybe A Yip, Maybe A Yap. In his non-writing time, when he's not studying the metaphysical or creating a tarot deck, he sells real estate in Middlesex County New Jersey, hangs out with his dog Zeus, and spends time at the Pride Center of New Jersey in Highland Park, NJ, where he is on the Board of Trustees.
ABOUT ROBERT A. MELOS
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IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
6.10.05 @ 10:21a
I was nearly hit this morning by a guy wanting to merge.
Now, there was COMPLETE open space a full two car lengths BEHIND me, but he was determined to cut in front of me. So I did what any self-respecting driver would do.
I merged over, just enough, so he couldn't get around me. Which promptly sent him into a torrid rage and he tried to bumper car me. When traffic merged in the opposite lane, he was able to ROAR around me, drive 60 mph past 7 cars, then dive into traffic, causing our entire lane to, of course, stop dead.
Meanwhile, that space behind me? Still wiiiiiiiide open.
6.10.05 @ 12:27p
I love the Metro.
6.10.05 @ 12:59p
Indeed Tracey, Robert's column could be just another day driving around our fair city, could it not? And supposedly we're among the safest of drivers!
Bunch of savages in this town.
6.10.05 @ 1:31p
Do not get into a debate over which goes faster, the red Iroc or the black Iroc.
This is GOLD.
6.11.05 @ 12:17a
You know, for all the grief that Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) gets here - much of it deserved - they've come out with a great new publicity campaign for one of those things that bugs the snot right out of me, and probably a zillion other people: people who refuse to merge to the open lane at the first notice of a lane closure due to road construction, instead choosing to race ahead in the closing lane hoping to pressure or "sweet-talk" someone into letting them in ahead.
Tennesseans apparently have complained enough about it, as well they should, that the police will now ticket your sorry ass for not merging in time. You can read more about it here.
6.11.05 @ 12:41a
In New Jersey the merging when coming to a lane closure is like everything else, an every driver for themselves experience. In fact, that every person for themselves attitude seems to be the way of life in the garden state.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing.
6.15.05 @ 10:16a
When I lived in New Jersey in the early seventies I found that being a native Floridian and having learned to drive on my state's roads which were full of crazy, drunk people from everywhere else, made it very easy to fit right in with the Jersey drivers. I already had a copy of those rules you mentioned emblazoned on my alleged mind and followed them relentlessly. I didn't fail to notice that the closer we got to The City the more relentless we all became.
About that merging thing, I've been known to straddle the two right lanes to keep the bastids from getting ahead of those of us who were waiting our turns. Several times when I've done that the driver in back of me followed suit.
6.15.05 @ 10:54a
I'm with you, Sandra. I learned to drive on I-4 in Orlando, dealing with thousands of international tourists and DamnYankees...and then I moved to metro Chicago. The commutes up there are cutthroat. Screw defensive driving; if you spend all your time trying to react to the other guy, you'll never get anywhere. I drive offensively (tho' not to offend) -- I know where I'm going, and I do whatever I need to get there, respecting the law as often as I can, but willing to break it if it gets me away from the crazies, the unattentives and the otherwise hazardous drivers.