About a month ago, I had some family drive in from out of town. When I first saw them, there was no “Scotty!” or even “Hiii!” What I got was NOT your traditional friendly greeting. The first words out of their mouth was “your traffic is HORRIBLE---HOW do you drive in that –(colorful metaphor)? We already know we are in the Top 30 for traffic congestion in the nation. And, it’s not just about the traffic volume; it’s the behavior we display. Right or wrong, it’s an exclusive to Baton Rouge. SOOO-with that being said- here are 12 VERY Unique Things About Baton Rouge Traffic –And Drivers -- you won’t find anywhere else.
Just because you’re in the left lane on the interstate doesn’t mean you’ll travel the fastest in heavy traffic. In fact, quite the opposite. Because the left lane is perceived to be the passing lane with the faster speeds, almost everyone wants to be there, so what happens on the interstate? Exactly. The left-laners will stay stopped longer in stop-and-go traffic than the other lanes. Try the right lane; even with the entrance ramps.
Baton Rougeans never refer to our commutes as “RUSH hour” like some other cities. For obvious reasons.
Some of our drivers steer with their knees. After all, it’s a difficult challenge for them to be on the phone and drink their Cane’s sweet tea or CC’s coffee at the same time. I mean, what other choices do they have?
If you have lived here for longer than 3 years, most of us know where every single red light camera is in the city. So, we know to leave a little more space between us and the car in front, since they may change their minds to go through the yellow light and hit the brakes abruptly. Nobody wants to receive that special greeting card from the city-parish, and you certainly don’t to rear-end that guy that could potentially Get Gordon.
School zones. This is a closely related phenomenon mentioned above; especially on more heavily traveled roads with higher speed limits. Again, many drivers already know where the school zones are, so if you’re on South Harrell’s Ferry approaching Southeast Middle, most drivers continue a 45 mph speed until the exact spot of the school zone sign. At that EXACT point (and not before), they lock up all 4 wheels to be compliant with the 20 mph speed. Some of that will involve screeching and smoke. So-again-leave some space.
In Baton Rouge, we are guilty of vehicle profiling. You see the cars ahead of you waiting at the red light, so you have to quickly make a decision on which lane while move the quickest after the light turns green. (Sadly, I am guilty of this discriminating vehicle/driver profiling). The Crown Vic, Mercury Grand Marquis or Toyota Avalon are probably NOT good choices to pull up behind, especially if that vehicle is 8 years or older. Obviously, big trucks can slow you down also, with 2 notable exceptions-school buses and cement trucks. They hit cruising speed fairly fast because they have students to deliver, and concrete to pour. Now.
In BR, the horn is not a warning signal; it’s a weapon of mass anger. Don’t even THINK about a 0.6 second response time to start moving when the light turns green. You should drive off like the checkered flag at the drag race is waving NOW!
When your light turns green, you better keep your brakes on because at least 3 cars will continue to go through the light from the cross street. And yes, this does create a problem with the 0.6 jackrabbit rule on green and will result in massive honking.
When you are merging onto the interstate from an entrance ramp, you can count on an F-150 in the right lane to use all of their available horsepower to race up to you for the block. And if you have a Texas plate, forget it. You don’t have a chance.
People in South Louisiana are still learning roundabouts. Especially those crazy double circles found in Walker and that “what-were-they-thinking” setup in Hammond off I- 12. They were supposed to be the latest design plan to help traffic flow, but I don’t see it when I go visit my daughter at Southeastern. What I do see is an obstacle course with speed. Roundabouts are like a driving seminar on how to properly cut someone off in traffic, and we certainly don’t need any help there.
The Mall of Louisiana exits/entrances double as a steering test track. We want to complain about what a hot mess that is, when we should be thanking them for these on-going driving skill courses that we don’t have to pay for…unless we run off the road into that pond.
We may never truly know which one person is to blame for the massive confusion we call the Airline/Sherwood/Siegen/Jefferson obstacle course. It takes some time to learn, especially for those from Alabama. You have to admit, there is some entertainment value to counting the cars that run a red light in front of you, since they have learned the traffic given the green light is over 75 yards away at their starting gate. Of course there’s that, and the fact there is NO red light camera. How COULD there be with those crazy angles and turns?