Driving in Nashville is a dangerous affair.
Having spent my entire driving career in Kansas City, I was used to a certain type of driver. Everyone will drive ten miles over the speed limit. Everyone will tailgate. Everyone will drive stupidly in the rain, sleet, snow, ice, hail, or any other perceivable thing that might fall from the sky. We all knew the drill and we all followed it.
Then I arrived in Nashville. The first day that I drove, I noticed something seemed off. On my left, I was passed by a car going 85 in a 70 M.P.H. zone. On my right, there was a car who must have been concerned that the speed limit was far to close to the sound barrier. Some cars would slam on their brakes and others would just rapidly jut into the adjacent lane and keep on going.
In the past week, I have seen cars honk due to my stopping at a red light. I have seen cars run that exact same red light. I have seen cars go the wrong way down one way streets and have seen roughly 830 near-accidents due to merging and a lack of signaling.
Driving here is not for the faint of heart.
As a reminder that Tennessee driving is the traffic equivalent of wearing a steak scuba suit as you swim through a convention of sharks, the Tennessee Department of Transportation has posted a scoreboard on the highway. Every few miles you pass one.
“TN ROADWAY FATALITIES: 709”
As if the semi-truck next to me were not enough to make me worry that I was not long for this world, now the Tennessee Government is screaming at me:
“Hey! HEY YOU! 709 PEOPLE HAVE DIED! YOU TOTALLY COULD TOO! GO AHEAD AND UNBUCKLE THAT SEAT BELT! YOU COULD BE 710!”
As a slightly paranoid individual, this is not ideal. I have gripped a steering wheel tight enough that I have gotten blisters on my hands. Constantly reminding me that it is possible to die while driving is not going to prevent me from gripping a steering wheel so hard that my hands start to bleed and I am fairly certain that this is not the safest way for a person to drive.
Worse yet is the effect these signs are having on my daily thought process. Every day I see that the numbers have gone up, I feel a little bit excited. I have outlived another person! No, it is not great that someone died, but as far as I am concerned, it would be even worse if I died. I have no interest in dying right now, so the fact that I have not earned a mark on the state’s morbid tally is one of my proudest accomplishments.
There is only one thing I can do. Give up driving. I will become a recluse who will never venture outdoors. It is much harder to become a roadway fatality if you are inside of a structure.
- Texas Approves 85 MPH Speed Limit – Should Other States Do the Same? (wot.motortrend.com)
- Tennessee Department of Transportation Aims to Improve Service While Saving Tax Dollars (clarksvilleonline.com)
- Benefits to upping speed limits on select B.C. highways: driver’s advocate (theprovince.com)