By Danielle Strejc
I’m not the best driver in the world. But I definitely do feel like I am when you put me and my car on the streets of Tampa Bay.
The first week I moved to the area, I instantly felt endangered on the road. I was nearly T-boned at arguably the most dangerous intersection in Tampa – Highway 60 West and Rocky Point Drive – by a driver who apparently thought red meant, “Go.”
Since that incident, I couldn’t help but notice the abundance of reckless and absent-minded driving around the Tampa Bay area.
An easy tell of lousy driving within a city is to observe the amount of car-part debris at each intersection – I am never surprised to see new build-up of headlights, bumpers and side-view mirrors in the middle of Westshore and Kennedy Boulevard in addition to a five-car pile-up on my daily commute to the University of Tampa.
I quickly began to wonder if it was just me or if the Tampa Bay area was noted for their horrific driving skills.
After a quick Google-search, my initial thoughts were confirmed. Tampa really was bad at driving – bad enough that Forbes Magazine ranked Tampa #13 on it’s list of the top 25 cities with the worst drivers this past August.
So, I figured, if you can’t beat ‘em, you might as well join ‘em. I have quickly possessed the skills of a Tampa driver and packed them into my own survival guide: Driving Like a Tampanian.
In order to classify yourself as a Tampa driver, there are several, if not hundreds of bad-driving techniques you must perfect.
For one, there’s the cutting-off-the-driver-next-to-you technique, which you must ensure to never check your side-view or rear-view mirror and God forbid – don’t ever use your turn signal when doing so. (That would only confuse other drivers for accidental turn signal usage since no one in Tampa uses or properly uses turn signals anyway.)
Then, you need to have an urge to jump into the lane next to you. Once you’ve successfully squeezed into the adjacent lane for no reason, somehow avoiding a game of bumper cars, you can then feel superior while blasting Lil’ Wayne on your fully-stocked subwoofers and 30-inch rims.
And anyone that politely asks you to get into your lane – don’t let them! This only will show your weakness, and you can’t do that. Don’t forget – driving is a game, not a privilege in the city of Tampa.
You must never look into the other lane, check your side-view mirrors, and once, you’ve realized you’ve almost caused an accident – don’t ever make eye contact or admit you were wrong. That would be un-Tampanian-like.
Lastly, when a young girl like me is just trying to make a left turn onto Davis Islands Boulevard during rush-hour, don’t forget to wail on the horn and throw your hands up in the air as if I’m unaware of the extra turn lane dedicated to left-lane drivers. I’m just scared to cross due to the unpredictability of Tampa driving and the possibility someone might merge into my car due to their overall negligence of holding a driver’s license. But it’s okay – your BMW 750 Li more than entitles you to do so.