I’m not from here. I mean, I’m from Georgia, but I’m not from Atlanta, Georgia. Anyone raised outside of the metro area knows what I’m talking about. There isn’t another roadway as vast, complex, and tangled anywhere near us. Atlanta is a special kind of mixture of folks from other parts of the state, the South, and the greater Everywhere.
I love it here. I love the incredible depth of diversity here that I didn’t get in the isolated rural town where my siblings and I were raised – not that there is anything wrong with that per se, but this place that is always full of people feels more like home to me than anywhere else I’ve lived.
Except that sometimes the “full of people” part can be a bit – what… Full. I’m referring specifically to our roadways. If you’re from anywhere and driving through Atlanta OR if you are from here and I and my neighbors have to perpetually glare at you over our steering wheels, here are
1. Plan head. With love, please plan ahead. You didn’t just surprise yourself with a trip to/ through Atlanta. For example, if I head to a new part of the city, I sit in my driveway, open my favorite navigation app, and read the steps. I make a mental note of the roadways, exit numbers, and directional turns.
2. Don’t STAY in the far right lane. Ever. (I love you, Mom.) This happens most when you’re traveling through the city. I was taught to stay in the right-hand lane while driving. If you need to pass, then signal appropriately, pass in the left lane, and return to the right lane as quickly as you safely can. That does not work in Atlanta. A LOT of those far-right lanes are Exit Only. If you’re cruising in that right lane, then get flustered about moving over a lane, there is a real possibility that you will increase the rate of brake-slamming in the city.
3. Update your GPS/ Use a good navigation app. It’s safe to say that most folks are using technology to navigate them these days. Whatever you’re using, make sure it works. Good apps will magically know about things like accidents and roadwork and take you around it or at least alert you to the trouble. My favorite for getting around town is Waze, who isn’t paying me to say so. It’s available for all platforms and free and it works, according to this user.
4. Southern hospitality works on the road. There will be some folks who won’t let you into the lane you want to approach. You absolutely have to get in one of the 3 left-hand lanes to drive north on I-85 through the city. Turn on your blinker and someone will almost definitely let you in. When they do, stick your right hand into the air between the front two seats, just in front of the rearview mirror and twitch it a couple of times before returning it to the steering wheel. This is the Southern Hospitality Roadway Thank You.
5. It’s not a competition. Every single one of us on the roadways wants to get somewhere. You are not alone. Don’t cut anyone off unless you really can’t help it. IF you cut someone off in traffic, refer to number 4 above. That works as a Southern Hospitality Roadway Apology in those situations.
When you’re stuck in crazy traffic, as can happen around any holiday and every Friday from about 4:02-7:09, or later if there is any kind of event in town, stay nice. Laying on your horn doesn’t make traffic move faster, but does rile your traffic-jammed neighbors. If you can’t see a reason for the traffic and want to know if there’s a wreck you should try to navigate around, call 511 from anywhere and DOT will tell you what’s up. Your tax dollars at work, really working.
Friday quitting time approaches and Spring Break is just behind it. Let’s drive safely, y’all.