Learn to Merge
It turns out that the jerk who speeds to the front of the lane has been doing it right all along. Most Coloradans are too polite when it comes to merging. They see the giant yellow arrow blinking a mile ahead and decide they need to get over as soon as possible and wait for their turn in line. Merging too soon may make that same polite driver in the waiting lane angry since those who stand in line longer feel they are more deserving since they paid for it with their time. Waiting then leads to denying a “cutter” and not letting them in. In actuality, it is best to whizz up to where the lane merges and use the zipper effect. Using the zipper effect increases traffic flow for both lanes. If you are one of the drivers in the waiting lane, let them in! They aren’t rude. They are just merging as they should.
Move forward and drive the minimum speed limit
Driving too slowly can be just as dangerous as speeding. Slow drivers who linger in the left lane of multilane roads are especially sketchy since you may have to pass them on the right. There are a few types of slow drivers that we Coloradoans run into daily. The first type is the distracted driver. These drivers are usually on their phones, texting, checking Facebook, reading books, looking for something that fell on the floor of their car, etc. These drivers tend to miss when the lights turn green, causing a delay at traffic stops and / or causing the flow of traffic to slow down considerably because they don’t stop what they are doing and keep going.
Another type of slow driver is tourists and leaf peepers. In Colorado, they are also referred to as Gapers. Out-of-towners driving up I-70 into the mountains for the first time with their heads out the windows, mouths wide open and looking up at the peaks. We’ve all been in this situation. Luckily in Colorado, there are scenic view pull-offs for you to grab those photos and keep the flow of traffic moving. Don’t worry. If you stay here long enough, you will catch a glimpse of that big-horned sheep without putting everyone else’s lives in jeopardy.
The third type of slow driver is newly licensed. Many teen drivers are uncertain, unfamiliar with their surroundings, and not too sure of situations that more experienced motorists take for granted.
And finally, the last type of slow driver is seniors. Stiff joints, worsening vision, and slower reflexes can lead to slower speeds in older adults.
Stop braking, keep calm and go with the flow
In Colorado, especially along I-70, we experience a lot of phantom traffic jams. These are traffic jams that cause slow-going to standstill traffic, and when you finally start to speed up again, there is no evidence of construction, an accident, or anything that could have slowed this down. With Colorado’s overcrowded highways, any minor disruptions to the flow of traffic can cause a self-reinforcing chain reaction. If one car brakes slightly and then the vehicles behind it brake just a bit more to avoid hitting it, the braking eventually amplifies until it produces a wave of stopped or slowed traffic. Keeping your distance and going with the flow is the best thing you can do in these situations. By continuously speeding up and braking, you can make this situation worse for those behind you.
Do not drive like you own the road
Colorado is home to some high-speed limits of 75 MPH in some areas. In many states, finding speed limits over 70 is impossible. These high speeds are on many roads in Colorado that aren’t straight and flat, making it a recipe for disaster. Colorado ranks 8th among the states for high-speed traffic fatalities, which probably isn’t a surprise to most. If someone is driving fast, weaving in and out of traffic, it is tempting and a bit rewarding to get in the way of their path and then go really slow. This move can be a passive-aggressive form of road rage, so instead it may be best just to let them fly by you while cursing them under your breath. If you are that motorist weaving in and out of traffic, watch out.
Learn how to drive in winter conditions or stay home
In Colorado, you can experience all four seasons in one day at times. You could head into work with snowfall and leave work in a t-shirt. There can be window-shattering hail, torrential downpours, and piles of powder all in the same month. Don’t be stupid. Make sure your vehicle has undergone winter maintenance. Check your brakes and your tires, especially for mountain driving. If you do not have 4-wheel drive, you may have to throw some chains in the back of your vehicle if you get caught in the mountains in a storm. Unfortunately, learning how to drive the Colorado roads in the winter is not something they teach in driver’s education. These skills have to come with experience. If you are unfamiliar, stick to the main roads, take your time, and pull over for faster traffic.
Don’t put others at risk
Colorado is full of breweries, bars, and dispensaries. It seems there is at least one of these on every corner. If you are going to partake, call an Uber or a Lyft.
Tell your friends Colorado is a terrible place to live
Colorado’s population has boomed in recent years, and the roads have yet to catch up. Colorado traffic is reaching a surge unlike ever before. With the overcrowded roadways, this means less margin for error. Sitting in traffic causes tempers to rise, and weekend trips to the mountains are not even worth it at times. Please do us all a favor. Tell your friends Colorado sucks.
Forget how you drove back in your home state – you are in Colorado now.
There’s probably more fluctuation in driving styles on the roads in Colorado than there would be in most places. Colorado is attracting a ton of new residents from all around the country. While most transplants probably know how to drive, these drivers have probably adapted to different driving styles. From the slow-and-friendly Midwest approach to the fast-and-furious approach from New England, having so many styles meeting for the first time may not be the best idea. If you just moved here, do yourself a favor and learn to drive the mountain roads, and pay close attention to the above list.
Coloradans are frustrating to be on the road with thanks to a blend of driving styles, overcrowding, and inability to follow the rules. Please, don’t be a “terrible” Colorado driver.