By Margaret Hedderman
Not until the fifth saggy-bottomed truck careened in front of me did I officially begin to fear Oklahoma. It wasn’t the wind threatening to blow my car and all lifeforms into oblivion or the Oklahoma City smog covering the horizon like the gloom of Mordor. It was the high-speed interstate race of cosmic idiots. I say cosmic because these guys were worse than speeder-bike student drivers.
I’ll admit, New Mexicans aren’t the best drivers. Let’s just say we take the speed limit into consideration when deciding how fast to drive. Once the cruise control is set, we don’t slow down for nothing except maybe elk, buffalo, falling trees, boulders tumbling off the mountains, and the occasional lost hippie. And then only sometimes.
Driving across America has taught me one thing (I can’t stand to learn much more): state driving laws are pretty much arbitrary. Don’t gasp, I’ve seen you running red lights and cutting me off. Well, maybe some laws are important like no left on red, turn signals, and braking for small animals and children… What I’m talking about it is the driving culture. The unspoken law of the road. Ever wonder how Green Bay fans just know to wear dairy products on their heads? Or how frat boys just inherently know when to rip off their shirts and yell? It’s like that. And every state has its own set of rules.
I stopped in the official Oklahoma Welcome Center in search of the Driving Subculture Guide. (That’s a lie. I just needed a segue.) Anyway, the Oklahoma Welcome Center doesn’t sell this guide I just made up. In any case, here is a excerpt for your convenience.
New Mexico: Set cruise control 10-15 mph above speed limit. Don’t stop until you get there.
Texas: See above. Texas drivers only speed when they invade your state, but they’ll generally get out of the way in their’s.
Oklahoma: See how many times you can change lanes in a minute.
Arkansas: Speed 5 mph above the limit, chicken out, slow down to 10 mph below, and repeat.
Tennessee: Play hopscotch with big rigs.
Kentucky: Find a speeding gang of Toyotas and tag along.
Ohio: Slam on the brakes to teach tailgaters a lesson. Have insurance.
New York: Watch out for cops.