Thursday, July 28, 2022

Georgia Driver's Guide

Every region or municipality has its share of, shall we say, unique driving skills. Today, I'd like to focus on those that are noteworthy in the region I've called home for 40 years, the state of Georgia. I'm sure that many of these practices exist in your area as well, so it's important to note that I'm not just picking on Georgia. I am, after all, one of its drivers.

For the sake of brevity, and also to hold your attention, because I know you're reading this online, I've condensed the need-to-know rules of driving in Georgia into eight simple guiding principles. I hope that these help you in your travels within our fair state. Let's get started.

1. Making a Left Turn

It is important to realize that making a left turn (at least in the United States) is a more complex endeavor than making a right turn, since one must be aware of traffic coming from more than one direction. Therefore, in the interest of safety, it is recommended that any left turn be made as slowly as possible, even if this involves stopping in the middle of an intersection to decide whether said left turn is, in fact, the preferred option. Take your time here.

2. Handling Four-Way Stops

There is perhaps nothing more confusing than the four-way stop. In this scenario, traffic coming from four directions must all come to a stop before proceeding. Traditional driving instructions indicate that the first vehicle to arrive at the intersection has right of way; however, in recent times, this rule has largely been discarded in favor of the philosophy that everyone must decide, via a roll of the dice, who goes first. The person rolling the highest number, of course, goes first. In case of a tie, the larger or most expensive vehicle goes first.

3. Controlling Speed

States and municipalities vary widely in the degree of speed enforcement. In Georgia, a law enforcement officer will rarely stop a vehicle unless a) it is traveling at least 30 miles per hour over the speed limit or b) it jumps a curb and begins traveling on the sidewalk, and the latter of these is not strictly enforced.

4. Driving in Congested Areas

When driving in congested or confusing areas, i.e. five-way intersections or areas with heavy traffic or misleading signage, it is advisable to speed up so as not to further complicate what is already a bad situation. The basic rule here is KEEP MOVING. Exceptions to this are cases where either pedestrians or Canada geese are crossing the road. Deer frequently appear on Georgia roads, but most of them know to avoid vehicles. Not all.

5. Parking Techniques

When pulling into a parking space, backing in is recommended, particularly in areas of dense traffic or in parking garages with small spaces. This is especially important for large SUV's and pickup trucks. Drivers of such vehicles should never pull forward into a parking space. When pulling out of a parking space, whether forward or backward, looking to the right and left is not recommended, as this is unnecessary and can change the angle of egress.

6. Driving on Straight Roads

In Georgia, straight roads are rarely seen, but drivers must remember than many people from other regions or countries may be used to driving on them. The main thing to remember about straight roads is that eventually, they will curve. Be patient on the straightaways, and keep speed to a minimum so as not to distract other drivers.

7. Negotiating Roundabouts

In recent years, roundabouts (also called "rotaries" or "traffic circles") are a relatively new phenomenon introduced to Georgia in an effort to make intersections safer (see #2 above) and reduce the severity of collisions. If you find it necessary to stop in the middle of a roundabout, which is unusual but not entirely impossible, be aware that other drivers around you may keep moving, resulting in higher insurance premiums for all involved.

8. Purchasing an SUV

The modern world demands consumption of every conceivable technology, so when shopping for an SUV, aim for a vehicle in the $100,000 and above price range. This will ensure the ultimate safety in backing into parking spaces, taking charge at four-way stops, and particularly in making left turns, where the LED lights mounted on each surface will ensure that all other drivers are aware of your intentions.

I hope you find these driving pointers useful. Happy Motoring in the Peach State!