Why Driving In The South Is Different From Anywhere Else

It's not just how we drive. It's who's behind the wheel.

Generally speaking, Southerners are well-mannered people, and that congeniality carries over into our driving habits. If your Papaw just passed, Southern drivers will pull over to the side of the road while his procession passes, bless his sweet heart. (How's your Mama'n'em holdin' up?) According to Savannah folklore driving rules dictate ladies first at four-way stops. And we've never cared for the honk of a horn. It's the automotive equivalent of swearing in public—Mama thinks it's tacky.

Despite some of our more genteel rules of the road, we are not above our own brand of highway hijinks. And while we hate to admit it, some Southern drivers exhibit relatively predictable behavior:

The Elbow Out Guy

Most Southerners who drive with their elbow hanging out an open window are male, and they are steering pickups. Drivers of older models are more likely to elbow-out than your king cab owners, who like their creature comforts and see no reason for fresh air when there's an AC on board and it's 90°F in the shade. (If you see a Southern woman doing the elbow-out, she is likely driving/riding in a convertible with the top down, in which case the elbow-out looks sporty and makes her jewelry—pronounced "JUHL-re"—sparkle.) The males of this species are notorious for driving a good 20 miles under the speed limit, often in the left lane. Try not to lose your temper and get around them as quickly as possible because they will NEVER speed up.

King Cab Drivers with Texas or Louisiana Plates

They will absolutely run over you and your brand-new hybrid. Get out of their way. Right. Now.

Drivers Who Live In/Used to Live in Atlanta

See King Cab Drivers with Texas or Louisiana Plates. The freeway is Atlanta's own personal Talladega racetrack. Anything goes during rush hour.

30A Bumper Sticker Girls

You have to watch this driver because you just never know. Maybe she's fresh off a week at Grayton, all chill and relaxed, feeling nothing but compassion and goodwill for her fellow motorists. On the other hand, maybe she's about to leave for her first vacation in two years. She's simultaneously trying to remember what she did with that Seaside confirmation, mentally making her beach supplies list, and wondering if there's time to squeeze in a Cajun Shrimp mani-pedi before she has to drop Fluffy off at the Kitty Kat B&B. (Of course, there is.) Err on the side of caution.

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Soccer/Baseball/Cheerleader Mom

Cut this SUV-driving sister with her school pride stickers a little slack. She's got six kids in the car, it's her turn to do snacks, she needs to pick up the girls at gymnastics as soon as she drops off the boys at soccer, and little John David and Mary-Clayton-Elizabeth both have science projects due on Friday. You should probably pray for her. And for heaven's sake, stay out of her blind spot.

Gameday Fan Behind the Wheel

If you approach a Southern vehicle with banners and shakers and school colors every which way, just know that everyone inside is oblivious to your position on the highway unless you are in front of them, in which case they want you to STEP ON IT BECAUSE WE'RE STILL TWO MILES FROM THE STADIUM AND THERE ARE ONLY THREE MORE HOURS TILL KICKOFF!

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