Thoughts on Texas Driving

First let me preface what I’m going to say with, I’m a native Texan and I love Texas.  I have lots of family there and I hope to live there again someday after everyone forgets I said all this.

Now, let me talk about Texas driving.  It’s fast.  It’s assertive.  And I wonder why does the second largest state in the nation have the shortest on-ramps?  Most states have fairly long ramps where you can get up to speed before you have to merge into traffic.  In Texas, you have about 50 feet to merge.  And a lot of the on-ramps have curves from the frontage road that you have to slow down to make. So unless you have a muscle car that will do 0 to 60 in 3 seconds or less, it’s dangerous to merge when traffic is flying by at 75 mph.  Especially when you’re in a minivan!

Same goes for exit ramps onto the frontage roads.  Those are about 50 feet long too, with no room to slow down before entering the frontage road.  But that’s okay since the traffic on the frontage road has to yield to those flying off the interstates.  That makes the frontage roads dangerous because you really have to watch out, especially if you’re on a two-way frontage road.  On a one-way frontage road, the left lane is dedicated to those incoming missiles coming off the interstate so you’re fairly safe as long as you stay in the right lane and they stay in the left.  On the other hand, when there’s a two-way frontage road, you see them flying at you and you hope they get into their lane before hitting you while you are stopped at the yield sign.  Or you have to crank your head around to look behind you before going past an exit lane to make sure it’s clear or you might get run over.

All I can say is that those road engineers around Amarillo and Abilene must live somewhere else because they surely don’t drive on those roads.  Or they should have studied safe traffic patterns more in school.  They’ve put entrance ramps just after the crests of hills and exit ramps just before them.  I guess they think the hill gives us minivans a little more speed before entering traffic.

One other issue, then I’ll quit harping on Texas driving.  If you’re going down the highway and a car comes up behind you, you’re expected to pull over on the shoulder and let the other car pass, even on double lines and when traffic is coming.  That is so weird to me.  The shoulder of the road is full of roadkill, road debris, and other things I’d just as soon not drive over.  In other states, shoulders are often populated with bicyclists—not something you’ll see in Texas and who can blame them.

If a car came up behind me, I didn’t pull over.  To me, it’s dangerous.  If they wanted around me, they could slow down a bit and wait for a passing zone (I’m generally doing the speed limit anyway so what’s the hurry?).  Or if I was behind them, I waited for a passing zone so they didn’t have to drive on the shoulder and stick their arms out the window to wave me around.  But I can’t blame those who did that.  How could they know that Texas minivan had an Idaho driver in it?  Oh well, at least no one leaned out the window and yelled at me to learn how to drive.  That only happens in Idaho, but that’s another story.

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