Thursday, November 19, 2009

Driving in Atlanta is stupid.

I began noticing differences within the first half hour of the first day I came to Atlanta. I had always heard about how bad the traffic is here, which I attributed to a large population. Rush hour. You can’t blame anyone for rush hour.

This, however, is not the reason driving in Atlanta sucks. Sure, there are way too many cars. And, sure, they don’t have any form of required driver’s education classes to take before you get your license so no one knows how to drive a car. And, sure, the lanes are far too narrow and the traffic lights screw up occasionally. These are problems, but, really, nothing you can easily point to as an absurdity worthy of ridicule (well, maybe). My main beef with driving around here are the traffic signs.

I noticed this one when I was being shown around town the first day. At first glance, I recognized it as the Ghostbusters symbol but without the ghost. I’ve seen this red circle before and know it to mean that whatever is in the middle is bad. No whatever-is-in-the-middle allowed. But, since this sign has nothing in the middle, I was led to believe nothing was allowed in the intersection. No nothing allowed. It took me a few months but I finally figured out what it means. The sign is placed on the opposite side of the intersection that it faces and is over oncoming traffic. The lane it sits over lines up with the left-turn-only lane from the sign’s point of view. This makes sense, kind of. This means that they put the sign up because too many people were pulling into the left turn lane, thinking it was a normal lane, and driving head first into oncoming traffic. This must have happened a great number of times to warrant the pressing of these signs and placement of them throughout the city.

Next, street names. The city planners of Atlanta thought up about seven street names and just decided to repeat them no matter how confusing it makes the daily commute. Going for a job interview in a part of town you’ve never been before? Make sure to print out the directions from Mapquest and then throw them right out the window. While driving around to take a picture for an example of this, I found three intersections besides the one I had in mind.

Two of these occurred on the same street, two miles apart.

That’s right, there are two intersections of Ponce De Leon and Ponce De Leon within the same zip code.

The original target for the example was the corner of Clifton Road, East Clifton Road, and, again, Clifton Road. The first time I saw this sign I thought my head was going to explode. It is a three-way intersection where, I guess, Clifton turns into East Clifton and is intersected by Clifton. That makes sense, right?

Kramer knows what I'm talking about.

ALSO, there are 71 streets with a variation of the name Peachtree. Just sayin’.

The streets are confusing enough that, on this same excursion to find stupidity in traffic signs, I saw a fire truck get lost. I had a green light at an intersection and wasn’t moving. I was wondering why, but I wasn’t wondering too hard. When in Atlanta, you just have to assume you’re going to see someone do something stupid whenever you leave the house. After about 15 seconds a fire truck slowly entered the intersection. Once again, I didn’t give it much thought since the truck was crossing against the light. He just wanted to be safe. However, I saw the driver pause in the middle of the intersection, look around, and slowly continue through. After the truck passed, the light turned red and I had to wait. Before my light turned green, the same fire truck, lights still flashing, turned the corner a block ahead of me and came back through the intersection, turning left, going the opposite way it had originally came.

The driver had no idea where he was going.

Lastly, the parking situation here is a little interesting. It seems that you can park on either side of the street, facing either direction, whenever the hell you want to. I saw this car parked nose-to-nose with another car.

This isn’t unusual. The best part? Not only is the car parked the wrong way, but it’s also blocking a driveway. That’s right, there’s a driveway right outside the car’s driver-side door.

These are the reasons it sucks driving in Atlanta. I refuse to leave my house between 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. unless it is absolutely essential. If you ever decide to visit Atlanta, take this advice to heart. Also, if it starts raining, pull over immediately. Once the ground gets wet, everyone shuts their eyes and forgets that they don’t know how to drive.


  1. This is hilarious. Favorite line: When in Atlanta, you just have to assume you’re going to see someone do something stupid whenever you leave the house.

  2. If it starts raining, slam on your breaks and roll your car into a ditch to avoid drawing attention to yourself.

    Maybe my favorite post yet. Besides the gay broccoli one, of course.