By the end of our US trip we'd clocked up more than 2000 miles in our convertible, so we've seen a lot of how Americans conduct themselves on their roads. And it ain't pretty. Jarek and Evelyn have laid down some very choice words about the general principles over on their blog, but I think there's still room for more rules about how to fit in like a local:
- You're not a real American unless you're driving a "pickup". This should ideally be the size of a double-storey house, with a cab wide enough for 4 and a tray area that could carry an elephant. Note that you will never use any of that space though. It's just there for the look.
- Similarly, your ride should have been jacked-up an extra foot or so, and with the regular semi-reasonable tyres replaced with the ones from those trucks that work in quarries. This will make an excellent roaring noise as you progress down the carriageway, and may even hang out into the lanes on either side of you. Awesome.
- Your steed must be propelled by an "All-American" V8 or (ideally) the Ford Magnum V10 (did they name it after the gun, the ice-cream or Tom Selleck?). The engine capacity will be at least 5 litres, more likely 6.0 or 7.2 - necessary because your vehicle weighs two-and-a-half tons, has an automatic transmission from 1963 and has the aerodynamic qualities of Flinders Street Station.
- Because you're perched about 6 feet above the road, you needn't take any notice of the mere mortals inhabiting the lower levels of blacktop. You are king of the road, and your subjects can make way when you choose to move over. No indication or head-checking required.
- Likewise, road signs are present for the guidance of lesser road-users. Advice such as "Keep right unless passing", "Don't talk and drive" and "Speed Limit: 70" are only applicable to much less skillful drivers than your good self, who is able to flout all of the above and more, simultaneously.
- Your American road journey, no matter how short, is not complete unless you have performed the following manoeuvres:
- Used the size of your vehicle as a threat to smaller cars
- Used excessive speed as a weapon to insert a gap for yourself in traffic
- Turned onto the road right in front of another vehicle without looking (or caring)
- Ridden the horn or made an obscene gesture at a fellow driver
- Nearly killed a pedestrian
Johnny has lots of new grey hairs after driving on American roads!