The World According to Keitho

Just another weblog

New York vs San Francisco: Who are the better drivers?

Posted by keithosaunders on May 24, 2010

I spent this past weekend in the Bay Area looking for places to live since I’ll be relocating there late this summer. While I was there I couldn’t help but notice that the driving style was very different from that of New York City. I do a lot of driving — always have, having grown up in L.A. — so I feel very attuned to the road.

In New York we’re usually running late and in a hurry.  We tend to drive a little bit too fast on our small, crowded highways, and we like to weave in and out of traffic.  We liberally (no pun intended) honk our horns, and do not take offense to being honked at as long as the honk is brief and to the point — not a sustained wail.

In the Bay Area the roads are generally congested and people drive close together, but at slower speeds.  I found it very difficult to change lanes as people usually wouldn’t make room. For some reason, New York drivers expect you to change lanes and are usually accommodating.  The Bay Area drivers jealously guarded their lanes and I could tell they considered it an affront when I had to force my way in.  These were the only times I ever heard car horns this weekend.

That’s right, they never honk their horns unless they are mad at you, the catalyst for this anger being the aforementioned lane change.  If you are at a red light and you haven’t noticed that the light has changed, don’t worry.  They will not honk, but wait patiently for you to notice.  This is clearly not a honkable offense out west which is much different from New York.  Here, if you don’t move the split second after the light changes you are reminded immediately.

I’m interested in other impressions.  I admit that this could be all in my head, or perhaps I’m just an impatient driver. 

3 Responses to “New York vs San Francisco: Who are the better drivers?”

  1. I was born and raised in southern Connecticut, and have extensive experience driving up and down the I-95 corridor from Maine all the way down to southern PA. I’ve also driven in New York City and Boston. Each of these areas presents a somewhat different set of challenges.
    But I can say without reservation that the worst drivers / driving I’ve ever seen in my life happens everyday right here in Greenville, SC, where I’ve lived for one year. Southern hospitality, be damned. They are aggressive, ornery and make unbelievably dumb decisions constantly. On average, I see one or two things on the road everyday that makes me shake my head in amazement.
    Good luck on the roads of San Fran, Bill

  2. bkivey said

    Welcome back to the West Coast!

    I think your observations of San Francisco traffic is spot-on. About the only time I drove my car there was to drove somewhere out of town; the rest of the time I took transit. Seattle and Portland traffic is much the same, so may be it’s an upper West Coast mindset. ‘I worked hard to get in this lane, and I’ll be damned if I’ll let you in.’ When I let trucks in they always sem a little surprised. I’ve noticed in the last several years that people are quicker to use the horn at lights; must be all those LA refugees.

    In my completely subjective opinion the worst drivers are in Philadelphia (they use the ‘angry’ honk a lot) and Honolulu (put your hands in the air and drive like you just don’t care). The most careless are probably in Florida (what turn signal?). When I was living there I swore that I’d move to Canada and drive around real slow.

    Blair “Not guarding my lane” Ivey

  3. southern cooking…

    […]New York vs San Francisco: Who are the better drivers? « The World According to Keitho[…]…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: