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Driving In Arizona

It is no secret that driving in Arizona is dangerous and can be expensive. Did you know, depending on what address you register your car insurance, the cost can go up or down based on the number of car accidents reported in that area? The insurance might be cheaper in laid back Chandler or Gilbert versus busy college town Tempe.

There are literally car accidents reported all day and all night on every local news channel. In your daily commute, I can almost promise you’ll see at least one or two car accidents. Once I can afford it, I’ll be hiring a personal driver, I just simply can no longer do it.

Have you ever heard the saying, “you have to drive for yourself and for others”? My mom used to say it to me all the time. It wasn’t really until I moved to Arizona that this saying became a fact. When you drive in Arizona, you are not only driving for yourself, but you are driving for those around you. You have to think quickly and move accordingly if you want to stay safe.

The goal of this article is to provide a few common sense road “rules”. In effort to educate those, who need the information, and to shed some light on common issues I see in traffic. You just might run into the same issues. Driver’s education can only teach people so much. How many people really take driver’s education before getting their license anyway?

Or is the problem distracted drivers? That’s supposed to be a big thing here, multiple cities within Arizona recently passed laws banning handheld phone usage while driving. You know how not everyone listens in class? Well you can expect to see this with every ‘rule’. This is why you have to drive for others in addition to for yourself. If you know what to expect, you can better prepare for it.

Signs of the Road

The YIELD sign

Yield signs are used to help regulate merging traffic. The lane(s) merging into active traffic are supposed to stop if there is traffic and proceed when traffic clears. If there is no oncoming traffic when you reach the merge then you may proceed without stopping. In this scenario the active traffic has what is referred to as the right-of-way, the right to proceed in traffic before others. A common place to see the yield signs is around highway off ramps and on ramps.

I’ve noticed what usually tends to happen in Arizona, when exiting the highway, is you have to almost muscle lanes from the merging traffic because they do not stop and allow you to pass first.

The WRONG WAY and DO NOT ENTER signs

These signs are pretty self explanatory. Their purpose is to deter oncoming traffic. Drivers should not proceed in the direction they are driving in if these signs are ahead.

There is a wrong way driving accident reported every morning on the news in Arizona, that is way too common. The signs that say wrong way are usually really hard to miss. They are even reflective, so you won’t miss them at night. Not everybody put they lights on. You could argue that, the turning lanes at some intersections are confusing. If you are aware that you can be confused by turning lanes, you should probably preplan your trips or exercise more caution at the intersections.

Road Rules

If you know you are driving slow or slower than the rest of the active traffic going in your direction and you notice an oncoming car is clearly accelerating faster than yours and you want to get over into their lane, allow that car to pass before you proceed to get over. This allows you both to continue without any disruption. I’ve noticed a lot of Arizona drivers like to do the opposite. The slower car will get over in to the faster car’s lane. Often causing the faster car to quickly brake or quickly switch lanes, which can lead to accidents.

You could be in denial and say you didn’t see the faster car approaching, but then I’d argue you should check and double check your side mirror for on coming traffic before you proceed to switch lanes. You should also probably stay clear of passing lanes. Nobody saying that you cannot cruise, I love cruising, but be mindful of those you share the road with who may have more urgent business to tend to. Stay in the slower lanes unless you need to pass an even slower car.

Passing and Turning with 2+ Lanes typically works as described below:

-If there are two lanes, the right lane is for slow traffic and upcoming right turns. The left lane is for faster traffic, passing, and left turns.

-If there are three or more lanes, the above rules follow, the middle lane acts more as a speed lane with no upcoming turns and passing lane. If you are heading to a red light and you don’t plan to make a right turn, maybe you shouldn’t choose the right lane. This allows people to make that right turn should the traffic allow.

In Arizona, I’ve noticed most drivers love to be “first”. They like to be the first car in the lane or the first to turn. The driving commute is not a nascar race. We all have somewhere to be, do not be that driver causing unnecessary misery. If we follow the natural flow of traffic, we can avoid more car accidents. Naturally there are speeder and cruisers, know who you are and drive accordingly. If you often find yourself upset in traffic, you might need to evaluate what you could do differently during the commute to change that. What other people do in traffic is none of your concern unless your vehicles collide.

Sometimes at high traffic or major intersections there will be multiple turning lanes. Most commonly you’ll find multiple left turn lanes, but there are also some multiple right turn lanes. Watch for the visible lane markers and road signs if you need direction. A tips for the inexperienced in multiple right turn lanes, choose the farthest right lane. If a car chooses the other lane, you can just go when they turn. It’s usually easier to turn into traffic from that lane.

When some one flickers their headlights at you, it can mean a number of things depending on the context. If a driver notices you using your blinker to enter their lane, they may flicker the head lights to indicate it is safe for you to move into the lane. If you are driving in the dark with no lights on, another driver might flight their headlights to tell you to turn your car lights on. I also noticed that in Arizona if you go around a slower car, the driver might flicker their lights as a display of anger or frustration.

If you are making a right turn or left turn into oncoming traffic, know you car and know yourself. Hesitation, can be the deciding factor between you and a car accident. If your car cannot handle quick acceleration or you know that you jumping into the lane will disrupt traffic, just wait. It really would not hurt you to wait a moment for traffic to clear enough for you to safely mix in without slowing down the driver behind you. Usually with the left turn you might have the median to pause until traffic clears. Sometimes with a right turn, you are given a specific lane that allows you to gather some speed and merge over.

In no situation ever is it smart to ride the back of another vehicles bumper. Read that again if you have a slow reaction time because you really cannot afford to mess this up. Did you know any time you hit a car from the back, you are at fault? So if you fear this happening as a result of a vehicle ‘break checking’ you out of anger, I would suggest investing in a dash cam to cover your ASSets.

I’ve noticed a lot of drivers in Arizona, who will ride your bumper as a way to indicate you need to speed up.

When exiting a parking lot and merging onto traffic, if there is enough space for two vehicles to exit simultaneously to the left and the right, make sure to leave enough space for all parties. In Arizona, I’ve noticed plenty of times where an exiting vehicle would be in both lanes. It wouldn’t be such a big deal if these drivers were more experienced in making turns in high traffic situations. Don’t block multiple lanes and hold up traffic. Don’t be that person in traffic that holds up other people just because. That’s evil and very much miserable.

Please understand every action has a reaction. You might get away with doing reckless things in traffic, but don’t be surprised if you meet you match one day and you are not prepared to deal with the consequence of your actions. What ever you do, just don’t bring your misery in traffic it’s a dangerous game. If somebody is going to slow for your comfort, go around. If somebody is so speeding and you have room to get out their way, do it.

Misery loves company, but let the world tell it nobody wants to be miserable. When driving in Arizona understand you have to drive for yourself and others. Look out for the common issues discussed above to help you navigate more efficiently and stay accident free. If there’s a common sense road rule you would like to add comment it below. If you agree or disagree with our road rule, tell us why.


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