Letter: Attention, fellow Asheville drivers

Graphic by Lori Deaton

We all work, live and play in Asheville. We come to this area for many different reasons, but we stay for many similar reasons. We are your neighbors. We go to the same schools, play in the same parks, practice on the same fields, shop at the same stores. We are Asheville. We enjoy the same sunsets, clouds, weather, activities.

Sometimes, we must get in our vehicles to get somewhere. Sometimes, we must coach our teenagers to drive these roads. Sometimes we must drive when we are sick or sad or lost. We can all travel smoothly, without incident, through thoughtful, skilled driving. Driving well requires skill. People’s skills can improve or wane depending on practice and thoughtfulness. Thoughtful = deliberate = steady in movement.

We can create better traffic flow in and around this town. Let us travel our roads with thoughtfulness and efficiency together. None of us want to be stuck in traffic; we want to get to our destinations quickly and without issue. So, you know how to drive; now learn how to drive better!

The best way to accomplish this is to follow these simple laws of the road.

Use your turn signals to let fellow drivers know where you wish to go. We can help you. We will help you. Don’t assume we know where you are going but realize that we need to know. Please be thoughtful while on the phone, or whatever else you are multitasking on while driving, and let us know where you plan to go. This driving thing is a cooperative system. Cooperate with your neighbors.

Do not turn left across many lanes of traffic. That’s just asking for an accident. You are a part of a bigger system; don’t be so selfish with a moronic decision like turning left across many lanes of opposing traffic. This will very likely cause a crash. That will disrupt many, many traffic systems on our roads and lives. Don’t be selfish. Go a bit farther down the road and turn left at a traffic light. Be thoughtful. Consider the repercussions. You are effectively choosing someone to be [in] a wreck with you. Why would you do that? Turning left across opposing traffic is dangerous. Don’t be dangerous.

Know where you are going. Familiarize yourself with your route. We are patient people but don’t take advantage of this. Do not abruptly think that you can dart across lanes of traffic and take a U-turn or some other obnoxious maneuver without throwing the traffic out of flow. You are a part of this flow. Be thoughtful. If you should be traveling in a different direction, consider pulling over and parking to get your navigation correct. You need to take some time to fix this, not your fellow drivers. Most of us know where we are going; don’t f**k our flow. Pull over and figure your s**t out. Don’t block lanes attempting to turn around, or stop abruptly because you should have turned. Your wrong turn does not have to create a situation for anyone but yourself. Leave no trace of your bad decisions.

Pass in the left lane; return to the right lane. If you are not or will not pass a car within the next few seconds, return to the right lane. You are gumming up traffic if and when you stay in the left lane on the interstate and/or highway. Maybe you pass a few cars, get back in the right lane and must pass a few more cars. Maybe you think that’s lame or annoying. So what? You are driving a vehicle. Do it right, and do it well. Get over. Yes, people could pass you in the right lane and leave your lazy ass alone while you cruise in the left lane, but the system was built for you to get back in the right lane. Do not f**k with the flow. If you are driving the only car on that stretch of road, then you are the fastest and the slowest car on the road. Get in the right lane. While in the right lane, cars exit and enter from ramps; decisions are made. You have no idea what may be next. Be aware, be prepared, be thoughtful.

Learn to parallel park. Practice in an empty parking lot with a friend and two rubber garbage cans one afternoon. You can do this.

I’m sure there is more.

Please share these valuable tips with your friends.

You can go against these helpful suggestions and be an a**hole on the road, but why? Does your ego require that much attention?

— Melissa Nicholson


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28 thoughts on “Letter: Attention, fellow Asheville drivers

  1. hauntedheadnc

    Bless your heart.

    I don’t know why, but Asheville drivers know they’re horrible and they are profoundly proud of it. They encourage it in their young. And, every time anyone ever tries to advocate for any improvements in Asheville driving culture, Asheville drivers not only double down on the subhuman driving habits, they get mean about it. Expect a rash of drivers turning left from the right lane and right from the left lane and speeding up in crosswalks until the collective fury over this letter dies down.

  2. Bright

    I do know why Aville drivers are so terrible…and proud of it. They want soooo badly to be different and “free spirited.” They are excessively small minded and insecure in a nation of some very intelligent cities. They sure have reason to be intimidated. Give them the booze, and they dumb down even more. That’s why Aville is becoming known as “Hit and Run Drunktown.” Be careful out there.

    • luther blissett

      ‘That’s why Aville is becoming known as “Hit and Run Drunktown.”’

      You keep trying to make this a thing. It’s not a thing outside your head.

      Asheville has a perfect combination of factors for bad driving: young drivers who can get their license if they can do a short loop from the DMV without crashing; retirees in land-yacht Buicks who haven’t been re-tested since 1965; Buck the Truck and his perpetual sense of grievance; tourists who don’t really know where they’re going and panic when they miss their turn; badly-planned interstate exits, messy signals and turn lanes, confusing signage.

      • Robert Thompson

        “Buck the Truck and his perpetual sense of grievance.”

        I nominate this as both the funniest line of the year as well as the most true.

  3. dyfed

    In my experience, the people who complain the loudest about bad drivers tend to be the most impatient, aggressive, obnoxious road ragers out there, usually with a history of at least minor accidents and speeding.

    Just the way people who complain about ‘drama’ all the time tend to be histrionic and emotionally immature.

    • TheVest

      I complain about drivers here all the time and my record is clean.

      • dyfed

        As I said: usually with a record. But not having a record of moving violations and at-fault accidents doesn’t make you a good driver.

        My experience is that those that blame bad driving experiences on others are usually the problem on the road. You could be the exception, I guess.

        You do realize you’re commenting on a story that’s nearly a year old, right?

        • TheVest

          I guess I very well could be the exception.

          As for commenting on a year-old story, honestly this particular story hasn’t been any more relevant than today. The problem has been getting worse over that year and these days I’m almost afraid to get in a car. And I’m a car enthusiast, so that’s saying a LOT.

  4. bsummers

    I wasn’t able to find it, but there was a letter here some years ago by a guy who claimed that it was his responsibility to squat in the passing lane if it prevented others from speeding. Might have been in the AC-T…

    Point is, there are people out there who don’t want to get along. To them, driving is not a “cooperative system” – it’s a place to act out their inner control freak.

    • Jay Reese

      When I am approaching a yellow light on my bicycle I veer to the left into traffic to keep the car behind me from running the red light. It’s frustrating how many cars run the red lights.

        • Peter Robbins

          Boy, howdy. You know society needs you to hold down your medical costs, too.

        • ApePeeD

          Traffic law enforcement AND removal of annoying cyclist, 2 for 1! How could you beat that?

          • Jay Reese

            Haven’t met a driver yet that can beat me in a game of chicken. My favorite is jumping the green light so I can trap the cars going through the red light. I love watching them slam on their brakes to avoid me and then having to sit there blocking the oncoming traffic. Whats’ funny is they actually get made at me for not allowing them to run the red light. Same holds true when I pull beside a car that I have witnessed breaking the law and they get mad at me for calling them out for their egregious behavior.

  5. DreadT

    Thanks for writing this letter, as I have been composing one similar in my head for months. One of the bigger problems you did not mention is the failure of our police to enforce the laws. I’ve have seen several people run red lights directly in front of police officers and sheriff deputies without anything happening to them. If you don’t get pulled over for blatantly running a red light (I’m talking about fully red before approaching the intersection) in front of law enforcement, then why expect to follow any of the roadway laws?

    I’m almost ready to start taking donations for a billboard that says “Welcome to Asheville! Where speed limits and red lights are suggestions!”

  6. Bob the frog

    All we have to do is to send the “speed limit enforcers” and their ilk to just about any European country like France, Germany or Italy for a week. They will *never* feel like trying any of the behaviors that Ms. Nicholson describes, again.
    While they are there they will also learn to watch for – and care for – cyclists.

  7. Jay Reese

    I have heard this complaint about local drivers in every city I ever lived in. These anecdotes combined with the national crash data shows me that many lack the ability to drive safely. It is only through chance and good luck that there isn’t more accidents. The problems stems from putting an emotionally charged human with all their fallibilities into a insulated steel box with conditioned air and gadgets of all sorts. Couple this with the American spirit of individualism and the marketing of the automobile as a toy for fast paced adventure and you have recipe for disaster. Bottom line is the automobile has become a plague in our society that can only be cured through the construction of active transit infrastructure.

  8. William Weeks

    Unintended (not thought out) consequences. As with most all big problems, it’s really a pile of smaller ones. Asheville restaurants and, hotels and shops demand more tourism, you get more tourists clogging the roads. Same group pressures police to not issue traffic violations. Lights on main roads (Patton, Tunnel, Biltmore, Hendersonville Hwy, Leicester) are not timed because lack of leadership at the city and county level. Workers traveling to second and third jobs to afford to live in Asheville clog the roads with tired, angry people . Lack of driver’s education in the schools that teach things like the left lane inside city limits is the through lane, not the fast or passing lane. Little or no consideration of traffic patterns when permitting massive apartment complexes in the name of affordable housing. I lived in Asheville for 37 years and realized that there was not going to be progress to resolve these issues so I left. One less car for you folks to honk at and flip off. Fix the problems or whine and live with them, it’s your city, and your job to get involved and be the solution. Or not.

    • Deplorable Infidel

      ah, Mr. Weeks…so you moved to a place in the REAL world , right ?

      Now council is spending hugely on more unnecessary greenways rather than fixing and repaving our intercity streets that ruins everyone’s wheel alignments and causes your vehicles to develop
      rattles much faster! our third world streets are an embarrassment to the city too ignorant to realize it…

      • Jay Reese

        Greenways are a vital addition to the community and their funding does not affect road maintenance.

  9. Mike

    “Squatting in the left lane…” So, here’s some examples:

    I’m going west on I-240. I want to get onto Patton at the end. Before Charlotte, I’m going to get in the left lane and stay there during traffic peak hours due to both merging traffic coming in from right and overall traffic volume. It’s safer for me and everybody else, IMO.

    I’m merging from 19-23S onto 240- east, a terrible left lane merge. I’m going to stay in the left lane until I get past Charlotte, again because of merging traffic from right.

    I’m on anyway road, going say 5mph over the speed limit. I move into left lane to pass a lane of slower moving cars, like on the hill on I-26s between the 240/40/26 junction and 191. Other drivers come up behind me going 15mph over the speed limit. No, I am not going to move back into the slower lane of traffic so the other driver can speed recklessly. I’m passing too…

    I’m just saying that get over into the right lane isn’t always the best choice.

    • luther blissett

      This is on the mark. For I-240W between the mall and downtown: the rightmost merge lane ends, then you’ve got left-lane off- and for Chunns Cove Rd, then the right lane ends, then you have the left-lane on ramp, and then the right lane becomes “exit only” for Charlotte St. It’s a mess. In situations like that, where lanes appear and disappear on both sides, the pragmatic approach is to get into the lane that requires fewest changes through sections where it’s potentially dangerous and out-of-town drivers won’t know what’s going to happen next.

    • Jen

      Wholeheartedly agree Mike! Most people complaining about the left lane “hoggers” are the jerks going 90 in a 55. Often on merimmon during rush hour I HAVE to be in the left lane for quite some time otherwise jerks won’t let me over once I actually need to turn left.

        • Jen

          I turn left at the light at the Masonic Temple, where I have a protected Green arrow to turn left.

      • JustSain

        Uhhhm, Merrimon is a surface street, not a freeway! We’re posting about dumb dumbs who clog freeways. I live down the mountain in McDowell. We ALWAYS know a driver is from Asheville, as they clog the highway by driving in the left lane for miles and miles in their Subarus with stickers all over them. They also jerk over into the left lane at every entrance ramp. Attention: it is AGAINST THE LAW in North Carolina, to block the left lane when a driver traveling faster than you approaches from behind – NO MATTER HOW FAST THEY ARE TRAVELLING!! Also, in North Carolina it is the responsibility of those entering a freeway to MERGE. It is NOT the responsibility of those already on a freeway, to jerk over into the fast lane to let the new driver onto the freeway. That is dangerous and it pisses off everyone else in the left (faster) lane. Also, if you are from the Asheville area, please know that once you get to the bottom of Old Fort Mountain heading east, it is customary for drivers to run a minimum of 80 in the left lane. So PLEASE MOVE RIGHT!!

  10. Robert Allwyn

    I think the best solution is the old-fashioned concept of defensive driving. It will set you up to be aware of the offensive drivers and the things that might happen. We know it is only going to get worse because of the onslaught of so many places for people to move into in this area. The saddest thing is that the majority of people who should read this won’t even see it because they don’t bother with such things. It is like talking to the trees. Of all the complaints listed, the one least mentioned (if at all) was the number of complete fools who talk on the phone while driving – I am sure than includes many who find the offenses listed in this article bothersome to them. We live in a society we have created where many, many people seem to think the national anthem should be “My Way”. ——– Be careful this Thanksgiving weekend since they are out there.

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