I grew up in SW Florida and live here still. Every year, from mid-February, until August, it is tourist season. We use to have a much shorter season, but lately, we Floridians are taking vacations in our own state. Every year, the frustrations rage as we double our population in less than a week.
Today, I found myself driving, just to the market and my children’s school and…well, I’m staying in for the night. The roads are so unsafe, and it is because many people are unaware of some of the basic “rules” of driving in Florida. Since I am staying in, I’m quickly jotting down a few that may or may not be useful to someone at some point.
Things to know when driving in Florida
1. Seat belts are required. Helmets are not.
2. U-turns are legal. The law basically states: it is legal to make a turn going the opposite direction (u-turn) as long as it is done safely and does not interfere with other traffic. We get to use our discretion as to what is safe and interfering.
3. Most day drivers are retired and heavily medicated. Albeit sad, it is also dangerous. It is also reality, so travel cautiously. Night drivers are younger and heavily medicated, drive cautiously.
4. Floridians do not use directional blinkers at all. No turn signal. Our direction is of no one else’s concern; so assume we will turn when we want. Who doesn’t love a surprise?
5. Florida drivers do not read signs as we are not required to be re-screened for things like vision or comprehension, until age 80. We use GPS. I loathe GPS. So I just wing it.
6. Stop signs. No one can remember the 4 way stop sign rule. Procedures, whatever. Just go when you feel it is safe. Don’t forget, we all get to choose what’s safe.
7. You may turn right on red anytime.
8. Texting is against the law but you may use your built in touch screen dash monitor at any time, phone calls are also permitted.
9. It is okay to drink while driving as long as you are not drunk yet. Pills are okay as long as you have a script. Pot is NOT okay. It is not legal, and the law enforcement is pretty stern with weed.
10. Should you be driving and suddenly it starts storming, it’s just a tropical storm; it’s JUST rain, wind and lightning. If you are uncomfortable driving in these conditions, please pull off the road. DO NOT put your hazards on as it is illegal. Hazards are for distressed vehicles, not distressed drivers. Floridians can drive in the rain. We have it mastered, so please get out of the way.
I don’t get road rage. Never have. I have learned, in order to survive, defensive driving is the only thing that works for me. Keep your eyes on the road and be aware of your surroundings at all times. NEVER look away from the car in front of you, as it may stop or turn, without warning, at any second. Good luck and good day.