Ryn: Tucson’s five worst driving habits drive us crazy

Working from home has a bazillion perks – from lounging around in pajamas to bouncing ideas off your dogs.

Typcial Tucson traffic/Ryn Gargulinski

Typcial Tucson traffic/Ryn Gargulinski

But the biggest perk, by far, is not having to deal with Tucson traffic.

The few times I do have to drive each week I have become so acutely aware of how bad some drivers can be that it’s actually painful.

Tucson’s top five worst driving habits are so widespread, in fact, they may actually be perceived as diseases.

Let’s start with putt putt disorder – Unlike it may sound, this ailment has nothing to do with golf – unless you note those suffering from putt putt disorder move as slowly as a golf game on TV.

Putt putters especially enjoy speeding up to cut in front of you, only to have the disorder kick in the moment you are locked in behind them.

They will proceed to putt putt down the road at an agonizing slow pace nowhere near the speed limit. They will also habitually take the left lane, especially when the lane has a sign that asks slower traffic to move to the right.

Putt putt disorder leads to late appointments and wasted gas from averaging between 14 and 22 mph with lots of sudden braking in between.

Some driving disorders can lead to crashes/Ryn Gargulinski

Some driving disorders can lead to crashes/Ryn Gargulinski

Fishbowl syndrome – Unlike putt putters who take it slow all the time, those suffering from fishbowl syndrome are afflicted only when they have to make a turn.

It will not matter if they were cruising down the road at a keen 45 mph. Nor will it matter if there are seven cars on their tail.

The minute they have to turn left or right they will come to a complete stop and then slowly maneuver around the bend, as if they were protecting a fishbowl perched on the front seat from splashing.

Wouldn’t want to kill that goldfish, now.

Fishbowl syndrome can definitely lead to rear end collisions and a lot of ruined roads from all those skid marks right behind them.

Blinker oblivion – If we took a random poll of Tucson drivers to ask them what the blinker is used for, we could probably bet at least half of them would not even know their cars were outfitted with such a feature.

The other half would not know how to shut it off.

This ailment could easily lead to sideswipes, T-bones, collisions with pedestrians, motorcycles and bicyclists, and a bad case of road rage.

Some drivers use any excuse not to move/Ryn Gargulinski

Slow down, now!/Ryn Gargulinski

Green light paralysis – This is definitely a Tucson thing, for in no other city have I ever seen a line of cars just continue to sit there when the light turns green.

Even when the cars do begin to move, they will do so at such a crawl that by the time it’s your turn to go through the intersection, the light is once again red.

Green light paralysis can lead to missing the next seven or more lights since the dude at the front of the line is most often the one who is paralyzed.

This ailment can also induce headaches from the blaring horns.

Speed camera hypnosis – Similar to green light paralysis but not as terminal, speed camera hypnosis only slows down the driver rather than stops him completely.

Whenever there is a posting, sign or actual sighting of a speed camera in the area, many motorists will automatically go into a stupor that lies at least 10 miles below the actual speed limit.

Speed camera hypnosis causes neck tension and backups, not unlike a real bad case of heartburn.

While these driving diseases may seem insurmountable, they can be cured with a lot of practice, common sense and a dose of that thing called driving school.

In fact, take two classes and call me in the morning.


Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and TucsonCitizen.com Ryngmaster who often thinks sticking toothpicks in your eyes would be more than driving in Tucson traffic.  Listen to a preview of her column at 8:10 a.m. Thursdays on KLPX 96.1 FM. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. E-mail rynski@tucsoncitizen.com.


Photo Ryn Gargulinski

Photo Ryn Gargulinski

What Tucson driving habit irks you the most?

Are you guilty of any bad driving habits? What are they?

Do you think Tucson should try enforcing the MINIMUM speed limit to offset all the Putt Putt Disorders?


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at ryngargulinski.com.
This entry was posted in danger, life, Rynski Column, Stupidity and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

42 Responses to Ryn: Tucson’s five worst driving habits drive us crazy

  1. azmouse says:

    I feel like I make people mad because I’m an extremely laid back driver.I’m never in a hurry, because I’m one of those people who is way early for everything.
    I do go the speed limit, though.

    I’m guilty of being to happy and enjoying all the moments of life,even when driving!   😉

    • Rynski says:

      hahha! good one, AZMouse, to be “guilty of being happy.” if too many cranky folks see that, some do anything in their power to try and change it – it’s the old “misery loves company” syndrome. watch for people cutting you off!
      glad to hear you do go the speed limit – those that crawl below it in oblivion are maddening.

  2. Mike says:

    When we visit Tucson from Phoenix, it takes a few hours to get used to all the “bad habits” of Tucson drivers.  We actually enjoy it.  The competitive driving techniques of the big city are largely non-existent.  Maybe you would happier driving in Phoenix?  We prefer Tucson.

    • Rynski says:

      hi mike – glad you can make an enjoyable show of the tucson driving habits. must admit some are very amusing, like the folks who speed, swerve and blast through a line of traffic only to be the first person at the red light.
      overall, however, i don’t think i’d be happier in phoenix. actually, i don’t think i’d enjoy driving anywhere. i’m a walker. but it takes too dang long to rely wholly on that means of transport.

      • azmouse says:

        I always laugh at those people who are in such a hurry, then there they are sitting at the red light, one car ahead of you.

      • Jennatoolz says:

        You probably laughed at me back when I was a little speed demon, lol. That would happen to me all the time, I hated it! 😛

  3. Dom says:

    I am from AZ. Just moved back to OK after living in Tucson for 10 months. I always thought I would like to live in Tucson and perhaps retire there. That is no longer an option having experienced the driving habits there.  For the life of me I could never understand why speed limits are so low, why drivers drive so slow, why drivers don’t move out of the left lane when driving slow, why all of the speed cameras, why no beltway or loop system to relieve some of the traffic congestion. What the hell happened to Tucson??? Traffic has been made into a hazard. Hire some folks who know how to move traffic quickly from point A to point B and set up a better traffic control system……..Dom

    • azmouse says:

      Morning Dom!
      Having been born here, I didn’t realize driving in Tucson was such a pain. I guess I don’t really know any better.
      I do know that Tucson was originally built to stay small (even though it hasn’t) and that’s why there are no freeways, etc throughout town, and nearly impossible to expand the system.

      It’s interesting hearing from non-Tucsonans how they feel.

  4. Jennatoolz says:

    Good Morning!! I used to have a disease called Lead Foot-itis. I’d speed around town, until I got pulled over twice within a month, each time getting a nice little “Driving Award.” Since I had to pay over $500 to take care of those Driving Awards, I decided it would be a good idea to slow it down. 😛
    One thing though, I REALLY can’t stand those Putt-Putters. I’m a pretty happy person, but when I get trapped behind a Putt Putter, I get a tightness in my chest and I find my self being incredibly annoyed. Whether I’m alone in my car or not, I’ll say something to the effect of “Can’t you at LEAST go the speed limit!!??” Then I growl at them a little, and deal with it until I can find a way to safely pass them.

    • Rynski says:

      hiya jennatoolz – there is a reason putt putters are FIRST on the list! maddening, for sure. those ‘driving awards’ are costly…not that i’d know from experience (haha).

  5. radmax says:

    Mornin’ Rynski! The putt-putt drivers drive me nuts! (short drive in a fast car I’ve been told) These are the folks who usually have some sort of ‘hate tailgater’ bumpersticker or mudd flaps. I got news for ya, if you are doing 5-10 miles under the posted speed, you will pick up some ‘tailgaters’! I hear a lot of complaining about ‘snowbirds’. In my experience these out of state drivers generally drive much better than the locals.(unless they are blue-hairs) Left turn ‘wait for the arrow even when there is no oncoming traffic’ people should be shot. 🙂 Also, try getting in the appropriate lane for a left hand turn instead of dashing across two lanes of traffic to make that all important turn.

    • Rynski says:

      mornin’ radmax – i, too, see so many fancy scmance cars all decked out that can probably break the speed of sound – that choose to go 22 mph no matter where they are. i’ve noted the average speed of many tucson drivers – regardless of posted speed limit – is usually about 22, unless the person is a speed demon and they go 28. this is usually in a 40 zone. ARGHH!

      • radmax says:

        Yeah, pretty frustrating to see a car that costs twice my annual salary putt-puttin’. What a waste of machinery.

  6. azmouse says:

    Wow, this is bringing out the aggression…I need to be meaner! 🙂

    I figure my agenda is mine and everyone else has there own. Far be it from me to complain if some one’s to slow, not turning fast enough for me, etc. There’s more important stuff to worry about, like the guy next to me who turns on his turn signal and starts cruising on over, apparently assuming I will somehow suddenly not be there.

    I figure folks driving to slow probably SHOULD be driving slow because they aren’t very good drivers.

    • Rynski says:

      haha – don’t get meaner, azmouse!
      i’ll have to disagree that folks driving slow SHOULD drive slow because they are crummy drivers – if they are that crummy behind they wheel, they should not have a license and instead take the putt putt bus.

  7. Givemeabreak says:

    What about the snow bird syndrome where gray hairs stop not park their cars anywhere they choose (like entrances of parking areas or the middle of the road) for some activity like lunch, a nap or because they forgot where they are.

    • Rynski says:

      haha! all that double parking and parking in the middle of wherever is the norm in brooklyn. glad i don’t see ALL too much in tucson.
      in brooklyn you’ll be driving along and all of a sudden the person in front of you will stop…then get out of their car and leave it there.

  8. Crap Shoot says:

    I am so glad to hear I am not the only person to see these terrible driving habits.   Another one for me is the driver who crowds the line so that you’re not sure if they even know you’re there and aren’t going to hit you. That happen to me twice just yesterday and also those drivers who fly out into  the turn lane so they can make a left. I somethimes wonder if they are not going to keep coming right at me. I hate driving here.

    • Rynski says:

      yes – a bus was crowding the line next to me yesterday – beneath the stone avenue underpass, no less. i just slowed down and let him hog his lane and 1/2.

      • Jennatoolz says:

        Speaking of busses, some streets (such as Broadway) have lanes on the far right side designated for busses only. I think this is a good idea as it keeps the busses out of your way for the most part. 🙂
        However, I did see one person (so far) use it as an actual lane and they drove a couple miles in it, lol. I think the bad Tucson drivers’ problems are that they just don’t pay attention to the signs around them…

  9. Jennatoolz says:

    Do you guys remember the “suicide lanes” we had a few years back? I had a scary experience with that on Grant back in 2004 or 2005 I think, which was before I officially moved here to Tucson–I used to live in Chandler. I came down to Tucson to visit for a day, and I was cruisin’ down Grant sometime in the evening. I wanted to make a left hand turn into to the parking lot at Bookmans (Grant/Campbell), so I put my blinker on, and got into the center lane to wait for cars to pass. Next thing I know, there’s tons of cars coming straight at me, honking and flashing their headlights at me. Then I was in panic-mode, so I got out of the center lane and continued to drive down Grant…but I still wanted to make a left! So when I got up to the light at Grant and Campbell, I was in left turn lane waiting for the light to turn green. A nice guy at the light next to me made me aware that I was in the way again, and he let me swoop out in front of him once the light changed. I eventually made my way to Bookmans…but I have never been so frightened in my life! I’m so glad they took those suicide lanes out! 😀

    • Rynski says:

      yuck! those were in place before my time here so i’ve never experienced them.  and all i can say is THANK GOODNESS!

    • azmouse says:

      People loved those lanes because they were secretly hoping some innocent, unknowing person would do what you did and then they could get all mad and make you feel bad. Some people live for the misery of others.

      • Jennatoolz says:

        Yes, I was the one they where hating on that day! Right after that incident, Im pretty sure I pulled off into a parking lot (on the right hand side..) to just sit and relax a bit, lol. It’s funny now, but at the time I was scared out of my mind!

      • azmouse says:

        I was so used to the suicide lane thing, since I lived off Grant back then. It was a double edged sword for sure.
        But there was always lots of honking and screeching brakes during rush hour with those lanes.

  10. azmouse says:

    I’m just thinking I wanna stay at home, because you people sound like some pissed off drivers!


    • radmax says:

      I often wonder(during the hot months)what the hell everybody is doing on the roads at non-rush hours, airconditioner at home busted? Sigh, If only more folks thought that way az. My job involves a lot of driving, so it irks me to see this many cars on the road continuously. PS-If all these folks are tooling around town for work,(sure they are) my apologies. If they are all shopping-well, there would be no recession, right?

      • Jennatoolz says:

        If they’re like me, then they’re driving around trying to decide where they should go for lunch. 😛

      • azmouse says:

        I wonder the same thing. I always think that there is no way all those people out there drive around for a living. Where are they all going?
        The days I drive to work (luckily, I’m my own boss and set my own schedule) I do all my errands. I only go out a few days a week.
        I also wonder what kind of jobs not only allow them to drive around town all day, but how do they afford those fabulous cars? What kind of job in Tucson affords you to be able to drive around, shop, drive some more and have the best newest car?

        I need a new profession….

  11. Nick says:

    Green light paralysis:  Thank you! I moved to Tucson a year ago from LA and this has been driving me nuts! People of Tucson, put your foot on the gas and go! Some people have places they need to go!

  12. tiponeill says:

    People talking on cellphones is the biggest annoyance I encounter, and it isn’t limited to Tucson.
    I would suspect that if you looked more closely at “green light paralysis” you would find most of those folk paralyzed because they are in the middle of phone conversations.

    • azmouse says:

      ….or texting, putting on make-up.

      A woman recently driving a truck hit and killed a motorcyclist because she was painting her toenails.

  13. Anon says:

    Good list – but… correction.    Green light paralysis is for safety and it’s a good thing.
    Oncoming traffic has a green arrow during your red.  When you get green, often, someone is still speeding toward or through the intersection to make that arrow.  Pausing to make double-sure the intersection is clear is actually being a smart and alert driver in Tucson.

  14. Lizette says:

    Love the article…its like you were in my mind when writting this. I deal with all of these bad driving habits from others DAILY and it’s causing severe road rage haha. I’m actually sick of driving now and make my fiance drive everywhere I don’t have to so that I can avoid it- but to be honest…even in the passengers seat- I’m giving people the evil eye. bahahaa

  15. Gil Carver says:

    We moved here from Washington DC last October… we howl whenever anyone complains about traffic in Tucson… then laugh when they they say we live “too far away from everything over there on the west side of I-10 ”
    Tucson doesn’t have a beltway, cause there is no need for one… We drove home from Alvernon last night back to Starr Pass… 15 minutes and only had to stop at 2 traffic lights…
    15 minutes back in DC was just traveling two blocks and three traffic lights… Our car is getting 32 mpg here … never got above the  low 20’s back in DC’s stop/sit/go traffic…
    This place is delightful…  traffic wise…  and everthing elsewise…

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