An Observation or Two…

The Sunshine state has been “home” for just over two months now. As you’d imagine dear readers, I have already made a few observations in-between opening boxes and runs to the donation center. Nothing overly keen mind you, nevertheless such observations can be added to my portfolio—if you will—of observations and opines attesting to years of living in many different places, both in the U.S. and abroad.

Firstly, I can attest that Floridians are genuinely nice folks, at least those I have encountered so far. Every person we meet is generally cheerful, friendly, helpful, respectful, and, at first blush anyway, non-judgmental. Folks here seem to have the “You do you and I’ll do me” approach to life. Add to that a refreshingly relaxed pace of life.

That is, until they get behind the wheel.

Which brings me to observation number two (and this is not an opine): Floridians are AWFUL drivers! And no, it is not because there is an eighty-year-old behind the wheel. Yes, I am now In a state that is heavily populated by senior citizens but I can affirm that many of the people driving dangerously are clearly younger by a decade or two more than I.

First of all, they DO NOT abide by the posted speed limit, whether on the freeway or on surface roads. I’ve no problem with no more than five miles over the limit; it’s often my practice on major highways I’ll confess (this coming from a gal who has never had a speeding ticket in over forty plus years of driving). But Lord have mercy, I’m talking about people flying past me going at least twenty miles over the limit. And, passing on the right? an overday occurrence, as well as ignoring stop signs and even red lights! Just last week I witnessed an SUV run a red light literally in front of a sheriff’s vehicle!

“Surely you saw that?” I all but screamed out the window.

Apparently not.

And, do not get me started on traffic circles (also called roundabouts). We have three roundabouts in our new neighborhood. I should not be surprised really as roundabouts have been gaining in popularity for several decades now as a measure to smooth traffic flow and reduce cars idling at traffic light, which may well help to reduce pollution, among other things. The real estate agent that handled our house-hunting refers to them as “death traps.” At first I scoffed at her reference, being none too pleased at the suggestion being planted, as in, you will absolutely become the victim of an accident in a roundabout.

Just one of the roundabouts in our neck-of-the-woods

Gee, thanks for planting that little nugget.

In all fairness, she doesn’t know that I have experienced enough of them when living in Europe. Though I do not know the entire history of this traffic “delight” I know they have been around on the other side of the pond for centuries. France has over 30,000 of them, far more than Spain, the UK or Germany. Even in the chaos of the huge traffic circle at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris people generally know what to do (full disclosure, I did NOT attempt navigating through that insane traffic circle but I’ve handled tamer ones in Germany and even managed several in Scotland while cycling).

Sadly, It happens that our agent may indeed have a point. Folks in my new neighborhood do not seem to have a clue as to how to properly navigate a two-lane roundabout even with a huge, highly visible, painted symbol on the pavement, along with road signs, just before entering the roundabout clearly indicating how traffic must flow! It is also crazy that too many drive well above the posted speed limit as if they are on the Daytona speedway. It really is a bumper car game free-for-all just trying to get through it.

Though it was in 2017, I am not surprised of one survey conducted by SmartAsset, a personal-finance company, which rated Florida as the number one state for the most unsafe drivers, not one, but two years in a row! Remarkably, Florida did not make the top five worst state for drivers in a Car Insurance Comparison study conducted in 2019. I am not sure I believe it given my observations in just these two months! One explanation I recently heard when commenting on my observation was that since Florida is flat, as in flat-as-a-pancake, one can drive for long stretches without nary an obstacle but when one suddenly “appears”, the zoned-out driver becomes befuddled and is thus caught off-guard. Doesn’t take a genius to figure out the ramifications.

Still, in my humble opinion, seems like a lame explanation. Clearly folks need better education.

And so, I have observed in myself that Florida has made me more of a worrier with respect to my rocket-man (more than usual let’s say.). Though he is not quite the Mario Andretti, he can tend towards the zoom-zoom mentality when getting behind the wheel. This has prompted me to to add to my requisite good-bye kiss when he leaves the house: I literally take him by the shoulders and look steadily into his lovely blue eyes. “Practice defensive driving and absolutely no zoom-zooming!!”

“Yes, my love” is his reply as he plants a kiss on my forehead.

So, until my next observation, and there is sure to be one, mind the rules of the road dear reader, in whatever State your wheels take you. And don’t forget the kiss and “I love you” for your most treasured dear ones as you leave the house.

There is bliss in that.