Tuesday morning as I drove to work, a car with Kentucky tags merged over in front of me and slowed down. The speed limit was 70, and Kentucky drove a whopping 60. Inspiration hit me. Out-of-state drivers may need a little help before heading to Music City, unless they want an ugly experience. Here are 10 rules to help tourists drive in Nashville.
1. On a four-lane interstate, the left two lanes are called fast lanes. If the speed limit is 70, you should go 75 in the third and 80 in the fourth. These lanes are also passing lanes, and people use them to pass. Most times, we’re pretty good at this, so just let us do our thing and everyone wins.
2. Unless you are in a school zone, always go 5 miles over the speed limit. Nashvillians like to drive fast, so it’s necessary to keep up with the natural traffic flow. If you refuse, be prepared for hand gestures and horns.
3. Pay attention. Interstates 65, 40, and 24 run throughout the city and change and split along the way. Read signs and make sure you are on the right one.
4. Use your blinkers. If you’re changing lanes or turning, use your blinker and let others know which way you are going.
5. Get over immediately. When you see a lane end sign, try to get over. Do not drive to the end of the lane and expect people to let you over. They won’t. In fact, sometimes we enjoy making you wait. Southern hospitality does not exist when we’re in the car.
6. Be prepared to wait. You will come to long lines of traffic at red lights, off ramps, and on the interstate. Take a deep breath and relax. You’re going to be there awhile, and your plans are not more important than ours.
7. Avoid rush hour. Rush hour is Monday-Friday from 7-9 a.m. and 4-7 p.m., and most everyone commutes to work. Thousands of people live in surrounding counties and work in Nashville and vise versa, so rush hour can be painful. For example, I live in Nashville but work in Franklin (22 miles one way), so my average time to work is 35 minutes, and my average time home is 50 minutes.
8. Do a little research. Old Hickory Blvd. is so confusing it has its own Wikipedia entry. There are several sections of this road, and they do not connect. Know where you are, and pay attention to maps because several roads turn into something else. E.g. Nolensville Rd. turns into 4th Ave.
9. Know where to park and bring cash. Check your apps and ask for recommendations. And listen to them. Residents know the best places to park and the quickest walking routes, and not all lots are safe.
10. Follow the rules. Navigating Nashville isn’t too hard, but there are a few basics to keep in mind:
— Red means stop, green means go.
— Yield means stop when there is oncoming traffic.
— No right on red means exactly that.
Check out our Worst Drivers in Nashville list!