4 Driving Tips For Surviving Dallas

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A typical day in downtown Dallas.

Ever tried driving around Dallas? We assume you have, as otherwise you'd have been stuck in the same quarter-mile or so for your whole life. We're not a city that likes to build anything that would be easily accessible by non-cars. Sidewalks are an afterthought. Pedestrians are treated with suspicion. Cyclists are reviled by both drivers and pedestrians. Also, it's balls hot.

You will, however, need to survive somehow. The daily commute in Dallas is less a drive and more a fun-filled obstacle course of terror, as every pickup truck in the known universe conspires to cut you up while you're trying to avoid the pothole cunningly disguised as a road. And unless your job offers you the hours of 11 a.m.-2 p.m., forget about actually using the freeways, because everyone else got there first, and none of them can drive.

Here then, are your best hopes for surviving the traffic-choked concrete bowl that we call home. Tape them to your windscreen, and consult them as often as you consult your phone while driving, which anecdotal evidence suggests is all of the available times.

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The fixed version. THE FIXED VERSION.

1. Surviving the Mixmaster

Negotiating a path through the Mixmaster can be tricky, particularly during periods of heavy congestion, typically found during hours between 5 a.m. and 4:59 a.m. the following day.

Let's let the folks behind Project Pegasus, the longstanding plan to improve the Stemmons Corridor, explain:

"The traffic problems in the Canyon/Mixmaster are worsened by the outdated, geometric layout of the main travel lanes, service roads, ramps, and surface streets in the area, all of which fail to properly provide for the routes and destinations of current-day travelers. Secondary problems include forced lane changes, abrupt and unexpected merges, weaves and exits, and poor access for emergency vehicle response. Additionally, the Mixmaster is missing direct connections from eastbound IH30 to southbound IH35E and from northbound IH 35E to westbound IH30."

So complex is the geometry of off-ramps, on-ramps, between-ramps, etc., that the Mixmaster distorts time and space, opening up a portal to a hellish dimension where demons dwell, which we suspect is in Waco.

And they all drive BMWs.

What this means practically for the traveler is that no matter which direction you're traveling in the Mixmaster, only one lane will get you to your desired destination, and that lane will be two lanes to your right or left and moving in the opposite direction. Also, traffic in the lanes you'll need to cross to get to the ramp to your desired path will be moving at least 60 mph faster than lane you're currently in until you enter it, when it will slow by 45 mph for no apparent reason.

It sounds awful, but following some simple rules you can survive the Mixmaster.

-- Always maintain proper following distance to the vehicle ahead of you, which in the Mixmaster is 9.25 inches, no matter how fast you're moving. This makes the fullest use of available pavement and weeds out the weak, indecisive and sane, who have no business driving on Dallas freeways.

-- Never use turn signals before attempting a lane change, as this indicates weakness and will cause alpha drivers to close ranks and force you to drive all the way to Waco as punishment.

-- Thanks to the Mixmaster's unique design, it's virtually impossible for any traffic cop who wishes to collect a pension to pull you over. Feel free to ignore any traffic laws and drive as fast as you can, which in most cases will be about 7 mph in the lane you're in, or 85 mph in the lanes to your right or left.

-- Remember that aggression, fearlessness, quick reflexes and a total disregard for common decency are the hallmarks of successful motoring in Dallas, and if you survive your trip through the Mixmaster you'll have much to brag about. Via Twitter, say. While driving. It's the Dallas way.

Patrick Williams


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77 comments
ruslanav
ruslanav

well what did you expect from a left brain mentality?


cactusflinthead
cactusflinthead

I haven't seen any great differences between Houston and Dallas concerning traffic. We all haul ass as much as we can get away with. This lane thing you speak of in Cali, what is this heresy? If you are a slow ass wobbling down the shoulder I am going to fly by you on 635, 610 or 6. If you decide to stay put in your lane because by God and law you are doing fast enough I might leave a spray of gravel as we play chicken. 


Need I remind you city people that we die more often out there in the rural highway? 


I feel sorry and full of schadenfreude at the same time when I know out of towners come through. I have been known to take pity upon them and escort them through the gauntlet. yeah, I can get you there. Whiskey is acceptable payment. 


I find it amazing that the Englishman spent some summers here with no A/C in the great conflagration of summer. Boudreaux, the quality of a parking spot is gauged in terms of its shade and not its proximity to the door. 


Toss this wrinkle in the mix. The Corporations have Declared because Safety some of us must drive at a set speed or less. No matter how much we piss you off because we are poking along. I wish the sign said something like, "Sorry But HR is on my ass and the insurance went up last month." 


That doesn't excuse the random Bs falling off a trailer and impaling you. 


A suicidal race in shiny boxes. 

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

I get south of 635 and cringe at the the "underinsured".   You know, people basically driving in the back seat, with duct tape holding shite down. 

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

I was shocked earlier today.  The lights went out at Greenville and Lover's and drivers were quite surprisingly polite.

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

Detroit drivers headed to the suburbs are the best I've seen.  Incredible discipline, all going 65 across 3 lanes, close together, none of those wimpy brake lights Dallas drivers do at any distraction, almost drafting on each other  It was almost like riding in NASCAR except at 1/3 the speed.  I figured it was a collective terror that allowed no stopping or even a thought of stopping until well outside the city limits.  Accidents shoved to side with no rubber necking.  Cars were in good shape with none of those stupid mechanical breakdowns we see in Dallas.  I figured it was for the same reason that a Ranger keeps his rifle clean and oiled:  Your life might depend on that gadget. 

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

Is why I stopped using the freeways in Dallas about 2 years ago.  Dallas isn't bad to drive in if you can convince yourself you're not in a hurry, which is easy for me since my main drives were to work and back home from work.  Neither place is someplace I'm in a hurry to get to.  3 weeks ago, I started using DART and haven't looked back since.  I guess because I'm NOT in a hurry to get anywhere, cutting my commute costs in half (fuel only) is well worth the extra 35 minutes it takes to wend your way through the city.  

The first saturday I took the train home from work, I got off at West End and took a tourist walk along the tracks to Baylor Medical center. (disclaimer, I hopped back on from Pearl to Deep Ellum, because I was NOT going to try crossing that mess on foot.

J_A_
J_A_

Everytime I'm going over that bridge from 75 south onto the mixmaster my heart drops a little in anticipation for the aggressive driving required to change lanes to get on 35 south. Sometimes you're not in the mood to drive like an asshole.

ColonelAngus
ColonelAngus

I love when idiots try to cut me off for using my turn signal.  They always chicken out when my 5,000-pound SUV moves over.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

  "If someone behind you honks at you for being careful, hit your brakes and wait a full 30 seconds to force them reflect on how they're a huge asshole ."

^^This^^

Guest
Guest

Talking about the drivers in a particular city is like talking about the weather. No one else cares and everyone thinks that where they live is special. It isn't.

becoolerifyoudid
becoolerifyoudid

If you can avoid the highways at rush hour, Dallas traffic isn't that bad.  Austin has far worse traffic.  (Of course being conditioned to having only two main roads that go north and south in a city is probably why I think Dallas traffic isn't bad.  I suppose if you are from somewhere other than Austin or Houston, you might think this stuff sucks).

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

Dallas, by far, had the most entertaining drivers of any place I've lived. People are free to express themselves without the impediment of law enforcement. You're free to comment on the driving styles of others with either end of the car, limited only by your own courage or BAC.

The lack of lane discipline that would get your ass pulled over within a mile in LA is a matter of pride in Dallas, and leads to all these subtle little battles. You've got folks whose last conveyance was a Burro mixed with F1-level experts in pickups, and there's always the Bimmer/Merc gang, who didn't spend all that money on a fast, high-G machine (who are already frustrated because the roads are so straight) just to have lesser marques force them to stay in 2nd gear for miles.

When my son went off to clean up after Muslims, I traded him one of my pickups for his race-prepped SCCA gymkhana/auto cross beast. For fun, I'd drop it into second gear at 70mph in underpasses, unleashing the racing headers and a million angry rotary bees that would crack the windows of any car within 100 yards. It was fun being a total asswipe, but hey, it was all part of my assimilation.

But the best driving I ever experienced was taking I-35 North, and never coming back.

mcdallas
mcdallas

Flame war with Houston drivers in 3, 2,...

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@TheCredibleHulk  That's fine, you get a full 30-seconds of horn.  I don't honk and leave it, I honk until you correct your error.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@Guest

I disagree, every city I've lived in has similarities, but they all have unique qualities.

Bostonians, quite simply, are dangerous assholes. Miami/Gold Coast, mix of E Coast/NYC aggressiveness, bluehairs and such. Most of the Midwest, people are pretty polite, same with FL Gulf Coast.

LA has the worst traffic, but the most disciplined drivers because there are three cops for every driver, and lane discipline is their biggest concern. The motorcycle cops there are also completely invisible, until they appear bedside you, or light you up.

NY/Jersey. Aggressive but efficient, horn- happy.

Dallas, a mix of all of the above, with no cops, no lane discipline, and old timers who ain't moving that dualie from the left lane for no damnyankee.

Etc.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@TheRuddSki  and there's always the Bimmer/Merc gang, who didn't spend all that money on a fast, high-G machine (who are already frustrated because the roads are so straight) just to have lesser marques force them to stay in 2nd gear for miles.


You left out us Audholes.  I bought a stealth rally car for a reason.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@TheRuddSki  

New Mexico doesn't require annual inspection of vehicles hence, you see macabre apparitions hurtling down the highways at very high rates of speed.  Smoking, shit flying off, one tire shuddering, tons of twisted and rusting iron . . . and a guy with his head hanging out the side of the cockpit with a blunt in his mouth.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@TheRuddSki  I driving a very high revving machine with a few aftermarket parts (no, I did not put a fart can full of bees on it), and my favorite thing to do is when leaving work and heading down commerce is the wide open throttle 1st to 2nd gear at at about 8300 RPM under the bridge just past the JFK X in the road.  so much loud, so obnoxious, yes I CAN be that guy

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@everlastingphelps @TheCredibleHulk  

So, in your opinion, if my careful driving constitutes an "error" in your estimation you feel justified in honking at me?

You'd be sitting stuck behind me all day. I would lose my job just to pin an asshole like you into a parking garage  for the sheer delight of it.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@TheRuddSki  LA cops on motorcyles are what keep everyone from dooring the other motorcycles who legally ride between cars.  And yes, you wont see them tell they light you up, and there carpool lanes actually work, bc only people who actually have 2 or more use them.


When I visit my mom in KC, I have to always remember to check my texas driving habits at the border.  Everyone is fairly calm, the lone exception being the Mizzou plate on the Kansas side of KC.  They are the worst, probably because of Meth

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

@TheRuddSki Dallas drivers, in my experience, are the most cell phone obsessed.  The majority of women can't seem to talk on a phone and keep up with traffic and the men can't leave email alone for the amount of time it takes to drive to work.  Not to mention the under 30 crowd that has to check every text message the second they receive it.

J_A_
J_A_

This is very true about LA drivers. I always say if Dallas drivers drove like LA drivers we'd have significantly less traffic.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@everlastingphelps

I'm liking those Audis, big time.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@holmantx

Drunk Indians. 'nuff said.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@sleepyhead420 @mcdallas  

I have to admit, Houston drivers are good.  Nothing like running in a pack at 75 miles per hour bumper to bumper.  

And if it grinds to a halt, it looks like a Buffalo stampede down and up the grassy knolls to the service road.

And the city of Houston doesn't countenance breakdowns on the side of the freeway.  The city signed contracts with wrecker companies to patrol 29 freeway sections and immediately remove any stalled or wrecked cars.  And for an added kick in the pants, this little gem is on their website:

Citizen! Due to budgetary constraints, the City of Houston has made the following changes to the SAFEClear program:

SAFEClear tows previously funded by the City and free to the public will now be charged to the vehicle owner directly at a rate of $50.00 for a tow and $30.00 for On-freeway Roadside Services.

For vehicle owners who are unable to pay the charge at the point of service, vehicles will be towed and placed in a city approved storage facility for up to 48 hours at no charge to the owner. Storage fees will be applied after the first 48 hours in addition to the $50 towing charge.

triptheory
triptheory

@TheCredibleHulk  That's fine until you do it to the wrong person and wind up with a few bullet holes in you.


Don't really understand those who think that it's a good idea to be an asshole to other assholes.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@ColonelAngus

I'll be there in a few weeks, then up the coast to the Olympic Peninsula. Nyah Nyah.

ColonelAngus
ColonelAngus

@TheRuddSki Century Boulevard (We love it)
Victory Boulevard (We love it)
Santa Monica Boulevard (We love it)
Sixth Street (We love it, we love it)

I love L.A.
I love L.A.
(We love it)

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@ScottsMerkin

Last trip from LA to San Diego, 90 in the "slow" hi-occupancy lane, passed by several cars, including two cops.

I love LA.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@J_A_  Driving in LA sucks and takes forever but everyone knows they cant go any faster so they just stay in their lanes.  It took me 3 hrs to drive from LAX out to I15, but it was the least tense miserable 3 hrs ever. 

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@Myrna

A lot of New Yorkers in the New York area seem to hate New Yorkers.

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz  We don't hate all New Yorkers, just the ones who won't STFU about how much they think Texas sucks compared to New York.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@gavin.cleaver

Your banger could get mashed in Dallas.

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