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Fish or Cut Bait

Drivers' Test
By Bob Ciminel


April 09, 2006

The traffic problems around Atlanta are monumental. I've been driving through Atlanta for over 30 years and have lived in the metro Atlanta area for 12 years, and it has only gotten worse with every passing year. Atlanta's roads and streets are in much better condition than most cities, and particularly cities in the northeast, because it is a young city, relatively speaking. Many of our most heavily populated areas only recently transitioned from dirt roads to paved roads, but not so much because of progress. It's difficult to sell land for $350,000 and acre and homes for $500,000 and expect people to drive around on gravel-topped red clay roads, particularly people who routinely drive through residential areas at 55 mph.


Photo by Bob Ciminel

What follows are some of the unwritten rules I've learned to live with while driving in Atlanta.

When you see a traffic light change from green to yellow, speed up so you don't have to stop for the red light. If you're caught by surprise because you were talking on your cell phone or putting on makeup and didn't see the light change, you can always rely on the "5-second rule," which says you can run a red light if it hasn't been red for more than 5 seconds. The rule also allows you to blow your horn and flip off anybody who enters the intersection because they had the green light.

Treat the "right-on-red" rule as you would a yield sign, which means continue moving and do not stop, unless there is an 18-wheeler coming. This saves you from being honked at and flipped off by the guy behind you who was right on your rear bumper and assumed you would not stop. Be sure to point to the 18-wheeler to justify your stupid actions.

At stop signs, touch your brake pedal only long enough to flash your brake lights. This lets the driver behind you know that you saw the stop sign, but are going to continue through as if it was a yield sign, unless there is an 18-wheeler coming. If you are one of those people who drive with one foot on the brake and one foot on the gas, be careful; there's a fifty-fifty chance you will press the wrong pedal, which can be bad if there is an 18-wheeler coming. Also, try to develop the habit of using your left foot for the brake and your right foot for the gas. This could explain why you're having so many accidents.

Never ever use your turn signals to signal a turn. However, if you insist on using turn signals, signal that you are going to turn and then continue straight ahead. Be sure to blow your horn and flip off the guy who pulled out in front of you because he thought you were going to turn, unless it was an 18-wheeler, in which case you may want to try tapping your brakes and slowing down. Do this very carefully because the guy behind you may have assumed you were not going to turn, even though you signaled that you were, and could be speeding up about the time you hit your brakes. It's no big deal because, at worst, you might be rear-ended, in which case it's his fault. Besides, you still have that 18-wheeler that pulled out in front of you to deal with.

A lot of Atlanta-area police officers are not familiar with these rules of the road. You could be stopped. If that happens, simply wait for the police officer to come up to your window; roll down the window and say, in your most arrogant voice, "Do you know who I am?" At this point, the officer's response will depend primarily on whether you are Caucasian, African-American, Hispanic, or Asian. It's really a toss-up. You could win or lose depending on the police officers race or nationality. If there is any doubt as to the potential outcome, simply say, "I apologize, officer, but I was hurrying to visit my friend, who was injured while responding to an 'officer-needs-assistance' call last night." After that, you are on your own.

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Fish or Cut Bait by Bob Ciminel

Bob Ciminel's articles may include satire and parody, and mix fact with fiction.
He assumes informed readers will be able to tell the difference. Bob lives in Roswell, Georgia, and works for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations.  He is also a conductor on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway.
Contact Bob at

Bob Ciminel ©2001 - 2006
All Rights Reserved

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