The 8 Habits of Lousy Philadelphia Drivers

The pickup truck that drove into Hymie’s Deli last week proves Philly’s reputation is well-earned.

Last Thursday at around 6 a.m., a pickup truck drove into Hymie’s, the popular Main Line deli. For anyone who knows where Hymie’s is located, this was quite an impressive move.

Hymie’s is not at an intersection. Nor at the end of a road. The restaurant is right smack in the middle of a group of shops, behind a row of parking meters with a wide sidewalk in front of it. The driver of the truck somehow made his vehicle take a sharp, perpendicular turn (was it left or right?) in the middle of a quiet, almost deserted, early morning thoroughfare and plow it through the restaurant’s main window and into its dining room. No one inside was seriously hurt, thank goodness. I still can’t find a complete explanation of how this happened. But I’ll say one thing: That’s one lousy Philly driver.

Are you a lousy driver? If you’ve got a lot of dents in your car, that should tell you something. Or if you’re over the age of 70, you might want to consider getting your kids to chauffer you around.  If you’re a mom driving a Honda Odyssey, then please keep a safe distance from everyone because I know what’s going on inside that car, and it ain’t safe (my wife drives a Honda Odyssey… trust me, this is good advice). And if you’ve got that ridiculous “COEXIST” sticker on your bumper, then you’re living on another planet and probably won’t be able to adjust to the reality of the roads (Really? Like everyone, even Al Qaeda, is going to coexist? They hate you!).

Is this you? Are you a lousy driver? Are you one of the reasons why Philadelphia was recently ranked the city with the second worst drivers in the country? Sure you are. So I’ve got some advice for you.

Stay out of the left lane

Don’t cruise there at 55 mph on the Schuylkill. The rest of us are trying to get to our destinations… today. I realize that’s the speed limit. But everyone knows you can go at least 10 mph over the speed limit without attracting any police attention. And on the Schuylkill, I’m convinced it’s more like 20. So get out of the way.

Stop tapping the brakes all the time

Don’t you know how to gauge the distance from the car in front of you? It’s simple depth perception. Here, let me explain: lightly press your accelerator to speed up and then when the traffic begins to go slow (hint: you can cheat by looking a few cars up the line) take your foot off the accelerator and glide. Simple! You don’t need to be braking all the time. It’s distracting to other drivers. We have brake pads too, and we’re hoping for them to last more than six months.

Don’t be so freaking nice

Good drivers aren’t “nice.” We just drive and do our best to get out of the way of other drivers so they can drive too. So when you get to a stop sign, and it’s your turn to go… then go! Waving on other drivers out of “courtesy” only confuses us and can cause an accident. The same goes if you’re making a left turn from a busy street while I’m waiting to make a left turn from a side street. You have the right of way. Don’t be nice and give me the “go ahead” sign. It’s not nice. It’s dangerous and can also cause an accident. I’m okay with you taking the left turn in front of me. Because that’s what the rules say. Let’s everyone abide by them and move along, shall we?

But don’t be so competitive either

Do you know the place where the Vine Street Expressway hits the westbound Schuylkill and two lanes have to merge together? Well, for God’s sake let the car in the other lane merge into your lane in front of you. And if you’re driving on I-95 and someone’s trying to switch lanes into yours because he or she needs to get around a slower driver? Let them do it. Give way to other people if it means that overall traffic will move faster. This is not a competition. The other guy doesn’t “win” because he merged in front of you—everyone’s a winner, and that should be especially pleasing to hear if you’ve got one of those ridiculous COEXIST bumper stickers on your car.

If you’re making a right turn then just do it already

Why do you take so long to make a right turn? It is not that hard. Why do I have to come to a complete stop behind you while you’re making a right turn? I understand why I would do this if you were making a left turn. But a right turn? Move!

Use your turn signal when turning

Especially if you’re going to make a left turn from a busy street. And do us all a favor and think just a wee bit ahead and put the turn signal on about 30 seconds before you arrive at the intersection. That way other drivers will be more apt to COEXIST with you (and not kill you) when you spring the left turn on them before they have time to switch lanes and move on. Oh, and it goes without saying to turn off your signal after you’ve made the turn. It’s really not that hard to notice. Good drivers are always looking at their gauges to quickly see if gas is running low, the engine is running hot, their speed is within the limit and their turn signal is still blinking. Why aren’t you doing this? Oh that’s right…you’re a lousy driver.

Don’t slow to a crawl when going through the EZ Pass lane

Am I the only one experiencing this? If you’ve got an EZ Pass, then you don’t need to slow your car to 1 mph when going through the EZ Pass lane. You can go through a lot quicker. You know those “express lines” on the turnpike where you cruise through at 60 mph and the EZ Pass system registers fine? Well… same equipment everywhere. I’m not saying you should barrel through a toll booth at 60 mph. But you don’t have to slow it down to a crawl. Just move.

Don’t drink and drive

I’m not being moralistic here. I’m just being fair. I know that I can have a couple of drinks and drive fine. Honestly, I’ve done it before, back in the day. But I don’t do this anymore. Why? Because I’m a husband and father and business owner and it would be mortifying for me to get pulled over for DWI. And God forbid if I was in an accident or hurt someone, whether it was alcohol-related or not. So I’ve compromised. I don’t drink when going out. I drink at home. That way I don’t have to worry about these things when I drive. It’s 2013. That’s reality. And that’s what grownups do. So put away the booze when you’re driving. You’ll cope. Life is still good. You don’t need it to have a good time. If I’m not doing it, you shouldn’t either. It’s only fair.

Am I missing anything?

Let’s face it—there can be no rational reason why that guy drove through Hymie’s other than he’s just a lousy driver. And maybe you’re one, too. If so, then I hope this advice helps.  More importantly, if you are a lousy driver, then please just stay out of the way. That’s the best way to COEXIST with the rest of us.


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  • Brandon

    Traditional EZ Pass toll booths and the express lanes do NOT have the same equipment. The express lane readers are designed for high speeds.

  • dunemi

    I’m guessing someone with a “COEXIST” bumper sticker really ground your gears?

  • Mike

    How about – Don’t slow down or stop on an On Ramp. Speed up to the flow of traffic and merge. On the topic of merging – learn to merge

    • Mark Gisi

      YES! I am from LA, and this is my biggest pet peeve. Philadelphians do not know how to merge.

  • Susan

    Often the reason they tap the brakes all the time is because they are riding so close to the other guys bumper that they have no time to just low down or coast — they HAVE to hit the brakes or else they’d hit the guy. Back off people – no need to obliterate the license plate in front of you from view — a little space goes a long way on a busy (or not so busy) road!

  • Denise Rambo

    I’ll admit that I’m one of those people who tend to favor the left lane and, after that woman in King of Prussia got a load of scrap metal dumped on her when a tractor-trailer tipped over on the on-ramp above her – that’s right where I’m staying. Unless, of course, the ramp is on the left side :)

  • Denise Rambo

    And the problem with the EZ Pass lanes is that they have a sign that says “5 MPH” AND a digital speed detector there flashing the speed you are going at you. It’s intimidating.

  • Lulu

    Agreed on all points, especially the Odyssey drivers. I do admit being extra vigilant with any minivans I see on the road. And KUDOS for mentioning the coexist stickers. Hate them, and thought after the Boston bombing suspects carjacked a woman with that nonsense on her car, they would go out of favor. Ah, delusional people! Gotta love ’em.

  • acm_acm

    Re the “left” lane – maybe it would help if we called it what it’s supposed to be – the PASSING lane. Don’t be in it unless you are passing someone. If so, complete your pass and get out of it b/c I am waiting got pass you and I’d rather not go into the right lane to do it. But I will, so save the stink eye for your mirror.

  • Oskar

    You forgot the swerve left to turn right move which is highly correlated to drivers who don’t use their turn signals. It’s as if they are purposefully trying to hide their intention of turning right.

  • Jane Yavis

    Well, since you left out “Community College” as a cost effective hint for Higher Education, and now have not mentioned beans about the texting, Cell Phone Drivers clogging up the road while swerving at 10mph in a traffic jam, – I’m not so sure how to take your conclusions.

  • Connie Caldwell

    Philadelphia pet peeves: a) Drivers who drive in the middle of two lanes preventing anyone from passing, i.e. using the two lanes as they were intended. b) people that cannot parallel park in a conscientious way that allows for the maximum # of cars along a given stretch. Here’s a tip: if you are the first or last car in that given stretch and parking next to where the PPA signs designate said start/end of the permitted parking stretch, park so that your bumper is line with the sign – not 2, 3, 4+ feet beyond. It messes it up for everyone else! :) thanks


    Why don’t people in the Philadelphia area understanding merging? The state just passed a $4 billion spending bill and the hope is that the money will improve driving conditions. Guess what? No amount of money will make drivers on 422 any less stupid. How is it they are so completely clueless about how merging works? 15 miles of road backs up because of that stupid exit on eastbound 422 by Valley Forge.

    Also, why hasn’t this state figured out the acceleration lane? Every other state seems to have a pretty good grasp on the quarter mile stretch of road that gradually merges from an on-ramp. That lane is there so you can gradually get up to speed and join the flow of traffic naturally. Every workday I drive past at least 100 Pennsylvania idiots sitting in their cars in KOP ignoring the far right lane (acceleration lane). The urban planner who designed the road put that there for a reason. Use IT!

    Lastly, why the hell does this state let trucks, buses, etc drive in the left lane? Is it because there are only two lanes and Benjamin Franklin was the original architect of everything in this city? Every day without fail traffic slows on the schuykill because two large vehicles are driving 50 mph side-by-side.

    I used to drive from Northampton County, PA to Jersey City, NJ (66 miles) every day in less time than Montgomery County, PA to Philadelphia (37 miles).