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How Smart People Turn Stupid

I had my first experience of moving in NYC yesterday.

There were thunderstorms, six flights of stairs, and back-breaking boxes. But, possibly most salient was the driving.
New York City drivers have to be, by far, the WORST drivers I have ever encountered. It’s not just the taxi drivers that are the problem, which you would expect since the majority come from countries where the
primary form of transportation is by foot or maybe a bike. The crazy part is that even the people in brand new cars, luxury vehicles — thus, they are likely to be hard-working/intelligent/lucky to afford to have and park a car in Manhattan — are just as bad.
I’m pretty sure I was the only person that uses a turn-signal. The standard train-of-thought for New Yorker’s is “aggressive driving”, not “defensive driving”. I’ve heard multiple natives suggest the best method is to be aggressive. I’m guessing this becomes a mob-behavior, because typically the way people change lanes here is by simply drifting into the other lane regardless of if there is a car occupying the space. I lost track of the number of times I was minding my own business as some idiot is near my front bumper and started moving into my lane.
Also, on several occasions I was trying to turn and drivers would go around me and attempt to turn in front of me, even though there is no place to go because I was blocked by traffic.
That reminds me of another piece of madness in terms of New York driving. In California, and every other state I’ve driven, when you are at an intersection with a green light that indicates left turns yield to oncoming traffic, and there is another car across from you also trying to turn left, as you are making the turn you pass in front of the other car so that it will be on your right as you pass. Well, the crazies in New York will often drive into the intersection, become side-by-side with the oncoming car on your LEFT, cross paths and then turn AROUND each other. This works if there i
s only two cars and they time it properly. However, once you get multiple cars then paths start to intersect. I cannot understand how this method is at all logical.
Abuse of Lights/Sirens

For some reason I’m also reminded of something I saw a few days ago. I was about to cross Eastern Parkway as I hear sirens blaring and see a van hurtling towards the intersection. Problem is, people were already beginning to cross as the light had just turned red. At first the van changed its siren tone to try to get people to notice (changing tones literally every few seconds is very common in NYC due to most drivers simply ignoring emergency service vehicles), but no cars got out of the way and the pedest
rians kept walking, so it came to a stop at the intersection and simply turned its lights/siren off. Hm.

If this were a true emergency, they would have kept everything on and went around the car and the pedestrian and sped off. However, the fact it just stopped everything and was fine continuing with the rest of traffic just confirmed my suspicions that there are plenty of people with sirens that abuse them. In NYC there is a lot more leeway about who can install these in their personal vehicles. Technically, as an EMT I could purchase concealed lights/sirens and install them in my car legally. So, as such, I feel plenty of people that have no real need for them will install them (likely even legally) and use them to simply avoid traffic. Walking through the highly Haredi/Hasidic Jewish area of Williamsburg, Brooklyn there is probably a 50% chance I will see a private car barreling down narrow streets with sirens. I highly doubt Jewish people have this many emergencies.
Categories: New York
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