Minnow serendipity

Survival Tips for Driving in Southwest Florida

(to help you safely reach the pool)

From the 2007 Florida Bureau of Motor Vehicles Driving Manual:

1. Turn signals will give away your next move. A confident Florida driver avoids using them.

2. Under no circumstance should you maintain a safe distance between you and the car in front of you, because the space will be filled in by somebody else, putting you in an even more dangerous situation.

3. The faster you drive through a red light, the less of a chance you have of getting hit.

4. Warning! Never come to a complete stop at a stop sign. No one expects it and it will result in your car being rear-ended.

5. Never get in the way of an older car that needs extensive bodywork, especially one with Georgia or Tennessee plates. With no insurance, the other operator has nothing to lose.

6. Braking is to be done as hard and late as possible to ensure that your ABS kicks in, giving a vigorous, foot massage as the brake pedal violently pulsates. For those of you without ABS, it's a chance to strengthen your leg muscles. Think of it as dry-land training.

7. Never pass on the left when you can pass on the right. It's a good way to prepare other drivers for cars entering on highway ramps.

8. Speed limits are arbitrary figures, posted only as a suggestion, and are not enforceable in Florida during rush hour, especially on Immokalee Road.

9. Just because you're in the left lane and have no room to speed up or move over doesn't mean that a Florida driver flashing his high beams behind you doesn't think he can go faster in your spot.

10. Always brake and rubberneck when you see an accident or even someone changing a tire. This is seen as a sign of respect for the victim.

11. Learn to swerve abruptly without signaling. Florida is the home of high-speed slalom-driving thanks to the Department of Transportation, which puts pot-holes in key locations to test drivers' reflexes and keep them alert.

12. It is tradition in Florida to honk your horn at cars in front of you that do not move three milliseconds after the light turns green.

13. To avoid injury in the event of a collision or rollover, it is important to exit your vehicle thru the windshield right away. Wearing your seat belt will only impede your high-velocity escape from danger.

14. Remember that the goal of every Florida driver is to get ahead of the pack by whatever means necessary.

15. In Florida, 'flipping the bird' is considered a polite salute. This gesture should always be returned.