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I Hate Driving on Highways

 

I will have to drive on a lot of highways this year for school, and I’m not happy about it. I hate the short entrance ramps, and being squished between two trucks, and having no stop signs to rest at. My ability to read road signs and drive at the same time is very limited.

I did a practice drive for an interview a few weeks ago, with Cricket in the car. I had already done one practice drive and I kind of thought it would be good to practice again, with some distractions. I did not realize that Cricket’s car anxiety had ratcheted up quite so high that she would try to climb behind my neck while I was driving and screech at the top of her lungs. She clearly thinks she can drive better than I can. I’m not sure she’s wrong.

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Don’t worry, neither one of us is driving in this picture.

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“I would be so good at this.”

I’m overwhelmed by the number of highways that even exist on Long Island: the Northern State, the Southern State, the Meadowbrook, the Long Island Expressway, the Cross Island parkway. There are more highways further out on the island, but I don’t know their names, and hopefully will not be required to drive on them any time in the near future.

The worst, for me, are the exits that are so curvy and loopy that they turn you more than 360 degrees around, and some guy behind me always thinks I should be taking this roller-coaster at high speed. Not gonna happen.

I have to stay very present while I’m driving and make sure not to drift off into thoughts, of any kind, because I have a tendency to lose track of lane lines when I’m distracted. And if I get too comfortable, I’ll forget when I need to shift lanes in order to avoid hidden exits that will take me out to the Hamptons (though, that could be nice).

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Cricket loves the beach

Driving has never been my favorite thing in the world. It took me a long time to even attempt highway driving because of the speed and the feeling of being pushed along by peer pressure. I can almost hear the other drivers complaining about me from inside of their cars. What’s with this freak only going the speed limit? I want to get home!

In order to manage my anxiety, I do at least one practice drive (preferably two or three) before I have to drive somewhere new for an appointment, so that at least the anxiety of the drive itself can be reduced, and I don’t have to think too much about which lane to be in, or read too many signs to find my exit. Ideally, every place I ever had to go would have a route by the side streets and never require highway driving, but this has not been the case. And, recently, when I’ve found alternate routes that avoided the highways, I found that street names like to change with each town boundary, and three streets in a single town will decide to have the same name, except that one will be a Road, one will be an Avenue, and one will be a Place, as if that makes all the difference and no one will ever get confused.

I am looking forward to the day when we all learn how to Apparate from one place to another. I don’t care if it’s magic, like Harry Potter, or science, like Star Trek. I’m ready. Cricket might need some convincing.

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Cricket prefers to travel by foot.

About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

107 responses »

  1. Well there are driverless cars coming soon to a dealership near you. No way would I go anywhere in one. Not sure what apparate is… Is it like tesseract?

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  2. I’m with you!
    I’m also trying to learn to use a GPS navigation system since on Monday I have to go into a major city that I don’t know well. Strange things might happen… 😉

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    • I can’t get used to the GPS lady telling me I’m going the wrong way, all the time, no matter what I do. She really doesn’t seem to like me.

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      • Use WAZE. It’s an app on your phone. The best driving directions, with or without sound. You can choose to ‘avoid freeways’, and it will also route you around heavy traffic. It’s my companion in L.A., where I drive all the time. For those lacking a sense of direction (like me),it’s a life saver.
        Also, you can choose the voice. Mine is a friendly, classy British male. Much better than the snippy, judgmental GPS lady. 😀

      • Ooh, classy British male! That would definitely help.

  3. About trucks, I find one heading in my direction and follow.it. Other drivers don’t want to get behind a truck, and so don’t sit on my bumper. 😉 They are also usually not going so fast so I get time to think.

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  4. I hear you! I print out maps. com and we use my husband’s GPS. I am directionally challenged, although he is very kind to me. He says I didn’t get lost; I just chose a different route. Good luck, Rachel.

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  5. Different country – same anxiety regarding driving. There are so many selfish lunatics on the roads these days. A bit of courtesy and slowing down would certainly improve the driving experience for many, I think.

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  6. I’m with cricket! 😊

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  7. He wants to drive someday.

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  8. I can imagine that driving on Long Island is like driving in Boston. At one point, I had meetings in Boston fairly often – actually in one of the boroughs. I hated the drive from the airport to the hotel, so much so that the last couple of times I went, I took a taxi to the hotel and then found a car to rent close to there.

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  9. Out here in the “Wild” West, driving is mandatory. Nobody built anything close to anything else (initially) and so you either walk long distances (not happening for this old woman), take public transportation (I’ve done my time and I’m DONE with that), or drive. I love driving, but I understand fully the anxiety effect. Something that I did in the day when I used to have to go somewhere for a REASON instead at my own whim; was go there a day or so before (or more if you have time), when traffic was slower (like on weekends out here anyway) and then I’d know where I was going and could avoid delaying and anxiety causing pitfalls like unexpected road construction, hidden ramps and idiots in high speed chases with themselves. I suspect in Long Island the problem is so much more complex than I can envision. Good on ‘ya for continuing to str(drive!) drive… 🙂

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  10. I am the same! I always to a trial run. I am a very nervous driver.

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  11. My, My. You would have a problem driving in LA!

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  12. Too bad you have to maneuver in and around NYC. My beloved husband, having completed a training in Brooklyn, called me(in Connecticut) from New Jersey! It is very easy to get mixed up. My first trip driving from NJ into Washington Heights in 1968 I could see the GW Bridge, but could not figure out how to access it. I still remember pulling off the highway and crying. So you have good company, in addition to Cricket.

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  13. I haven’t been able to drive partly because of anxiety (and the fear of losing my concentration while on the road)…I may have to try your strategy, though, if I get behind a wheel again, hopefully sooner rather than later!

    And go Cricket! She’s a wonder dog for sure!

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  14. Absolutely, by foot would be the best

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  15. Long Island highways are mind boggling to me!! They make me very nervous as they are always jammed and busy. I stick to my local NJ highways when I can!!

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  16. I drive no more than is necessary and am grateful I don’t need to do any interstate driving. I detest winter driving most of all. My late grandfather lived to age 90 and never once drove a car. He bought a house across the street from where he worked. The older I get, the more I admire his driving avoidance.

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  17. As my peep remembers, there’s no danger with the Long Island Expressway at all. It’s hard to have a problem in that parking lot.

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  18. ramblingsofaperforatedmind

    My daughter, now 19, refuses to drive.

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  19. I love traveling with dogs. It makes adventures 100x more exciting with a sidekick.

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  20. I sympathise. I’ve just started having driving lessons. I say bring on driverless cars.

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  21. I’ve just learned to drive, but there’s no way I would drive any great distance with Chicki in the car. She started barking once when I was at the wheel, and honestly, that’s the only thing that’s really thrown me. I sympathise with your dislike of driving on highways!

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  22. Thank you for sharing your anxiety about driving. I think if more people were in touch with their driving concerns, we would have fewer drivers and fewer accidents. I grew up in Detroit (motor city) and driving is equal to freedom and independence. Lots of elders refuse to stop driving because it means a loss of independence. It also means lots of dangerous drivers on the road.

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  23. I despise highway driving. Everyone is super aggressive, and I worry about morons texting, reading email and engaging in other distracting behavior. A colleague of mine was hit head on (not on the highway, mind you) by a woman who was texting with someone. The woman was fine, but my colleague has endured multiple surgeries and has been out of work for a year.

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  24. i used to love driving the NYC highways at off hours when I actually got to appreciate the scenery a little–like at sunrise with the glass buildings glowing orange. The George Washington Bridge was the scariest for me because there’s upper and lower decks and so many exits, yet I kind of miss the “down state” energy. Up here everything below Albany is called “down state.” 🙂

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  25. Scottie had the answer 🙂 .

    I do hope the journey becomes easier with familiarity.

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  26. I too dislike driving unfamiliar roads. Nice photos. Specially the one with you and Cricket.

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  27. Someone once told me there are two rules in life: 1. Don’t worry about what’s behind you unless it has flashing blue lights, and 2. Rudeness is punishable by death. I told this maxim to a classroom of 9th graders that I was substitute teaching after a couple of unbearable weeks with them, and never had another problem with them!
    Anyhow, hope rule #1 helps. 🙂

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  28. Do you think Cricket felt your anxiety?

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  29. Ha, ha, this is a funny one! Now that I’m not working full-time and zipping around on our San Diego freeways, I’ve enjoyed taking the slower back roads. When I do have to take the freeway, I feel nervous and yes, peer-pressured to go 100 miles an hour. And I guess people behind me assume I’ll do that since I drive a red sports car! Lately I’ve been thinking I should go somewhere on the freeway once a week to keep up my skills, less thrills. A few times a year I drive up the Pacific Coast Highway, either to San Clemente, 50 miles north to visit my son, or to the LA beach area, where my sister lives. I HAVE to get on the freeway north of San Diego because a large swath is taken up with the Marine base, Camp Pendleton. Otherwise, it’s the coast route all the way. People think I’m nuts because it takes forever, but Iove it!
    Good luck!

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  30. Ah Rachel, you have my sympathy. I hate driving almost anywhere these days,not just highways. The road departments insist on putting the signs at the intersection, so of course you don’t see the turn you should take until you are in the middle of the intersection going past it.Not to mention how downright rude and scary drivers have gotten. Putting on eye makeup while driving can’t be safe. The things I’ve seen! Maybe the idea of self-driving cars is not such a bad idea after all.

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  31. Obviously Cricket is feeling your pain. Practice runs? Always! When I was a wedding photographer I always checked the routes out well before the big day. As for driving where I don’t know – I just hate it.

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  32. Rachel, you are lucky you don’t live in Texas where to get anywhere you need to get on a highway. Nevertheless, you have my sympathy as does Cricket.

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  33. I’m with Tom! I live in North Texas and absolutely hate driving here. It feels like literally taking your life into your hands when I have to drive anywhere further than to the town grocery store! Even that can be risky depending upon the time of day! I hope everything goes well – love the pictures and your writing about this Rachel!

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  34. I agree with this in respect to Long Island highways and parkways. I lived in California for 15 years and had no trouble with the freeways, drove back to my native NY cross country alone, taking Interstate 80 – no problem.. However put me on Long Island and I can never remember whether I should take the Meadowbrook, Northern State, Southern state, Grand Central, or whether i’m going in the right direction on the Cross Island. And once I figure that out, I have to make sure I’m not in a lane that’s going to disappear, and it’s the right lane so that I can get off at my exit. Give me the LIE any day.
    Luckily I only have to deal with these roads voluntarily if I want to leave the main land and go to the beach.

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  35. That sounds tough driving where you live, the practice drives are a good idea. I like your assistant in the car, too.

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  36. It’s a bit like our motorways I prefer to travel by country roads!

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  37. I’m with you Rachel. When the speed limit was 55 and everyone drove 70, I could handle it. But now that the limit is 70 and everyone drives 85, I can’t. There are even some stretches here in Michigan where it has been raised to 75. Recently I was going 70 in the slow lane when the semi behind me (the limit for trucks was 65) started blaring his horn at me. I got off at the next exit and took the back roads – the kinder, gentler, stress-free back roads.

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  38. Great post! I grew up in northern NJ and never really minded highway driving. I was terrified of driving in Manhattan, though. Now I live in southern CA and the highway…freeway…driving out here is way worse than back east. I’ve never seen more aggressive drivers who weave in and out of traffic, cut in front of you, etc…all while talking on their cell phones. It’s horrifying!

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  39. You’ll do fine.. rather have attentive to detail drivers on the roads.. patience, and drive defensively…

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  40. Would love to Apparate!

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  41. On behalf of everyone on California freeways, thank you for driving on Long Island.

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  42. hairytoegardener

    I share this anxiety and avoid highways whenever possible. (Sometimes I dream that road makers will make special “Little Old Lady Lanes” for people like me, but of course that’s pure fantasy.) I can empathize completely.

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  43. I hate it too. Long and boring but I have started to use that time to think. Clear my mind. Just have to be alert.

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  44. I had a job with high anxiety producing traffic commuting involved, I found having a small plate of baklava ready while driving significantly reduced my need to pull over and catch my breath.

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  45. I also sympathize! I hate driving on highways and always allow myself extra time and a practice run or two, as well. I love the pic of Cricket climbing behind your head!

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  46. I think if I was that anxious, I might consider selling my vehicle and taking the bus or taxi instead.

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  47. Ugh highway driving is the worst! My humom always needs a nice nap after a long stressful drive in traffic! You should look into getting one of those self driving cars! BOL! I wonder when those will become available!

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  48. Oh, it is so scary to be on the road with people that are afraid to be on the road. EEEEK. I am hoping that you will get more comfortable driving on the highway the more you do it. The less afraid you are the better driver you will be. Scared drivers do crazy unpredictable things.

    You can do it. You can focus AND be confident!

    I am going to suggest something to you . . . . Oh! And it is on sale right now. Cool. I might get some more. http://store.fesflowers.com/flower-essence-formulas/flourish-formula-sprays/fear-less-1-oz-dosage-spray-bottle.html

    I use it when there is stop-and-go-traffic because I can’t stand that. I never understand why we are stopped, then go 80 mph, then STOP! That is just crazy. Especially since – in my state – most of the people driving are on their phones and they are not even looking at the road.

    I also use it when I need to “stop thinking” and get to sleep.

    I am not a seller nor an I affiliated with the company in any way. I just think it really helps ME to be less anxious . . . so . . . I am just putting it out there for you! 🙂

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  49. I agree with you: Beam us up, Scotty!

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