How to become a local – Miami traffic

Image shows expressway intersection jams.

While it is almost uncanny that every city loves to brag about their bad traffic and worse drivers, Miami takes this to a totally new level. The best term to describe Miami traffic would be complete anarchy. What they lack in narrow car packed streets they make up for with insanity.

Skyline image of Miami traffic jams.
Image of Miami traffic we love and hate.

However, driving through Miami traffic is a skill that can be honed and mastered. If you’re about to move to Miami here are a few tips and tricks on how to become a local and master Miami traffic. 

Becoming local – Game of Stoplights

If you want to become a local and master the Miami traffic “code” forget what you know. Red light is not necessarily a sign to stop. It tends to be a sign that you can squeeze a couple of more cars. To further complicate things, this only applies to cars turning left at an intersection. A sign of courtesy would be to move on ahead as much as possible, leaving space for other cars to pile up behind you.

Failing to abide to these “rules” will result in many honks going off, as well as a very complex set of Spanish profanities and an overall “bad first impression”.

Pedestrians – Bottom of the Food Chain (and maybe Bicyclists)

If you truly wish to become a local, and master Miami traffic you must appreciate some cultural differences Florida brings. Legally speaking pedestrians should always have the right of way. Well no, not really. At least not in Miami. It is important for you to understand this, both as a driver and as a pedestrian. Be careful, and as a pedestrian, don’t expect to be acknowledged by drivers, and most importantly don’t hope for them to stop for you to cross the road.

Miami Traffic’s Worst – The Palmetto Expressway

Image shows expressway intersection jams.
Expressways, especially the Palmetto one, can be a big bother!

Ask any local to summarize everything that’s wrong with Miami traffic and you’ll hear one phrase: Palmetto Expressway. There are several reasons for this, but the overall tip is to avoid it whenever and however possible. The biggest problem with this expressway hides behind the areas it goes through. First stop – Doral, once famous for the Golf Course, now infamous for hosting numerous offices.  Add to this Miami Lakes and Kendall and you got yourself a cluster of people being late for work, sharing your driving space.

Second stop – Hialeah. Hialeah is home to the highest level of Miami traffic mayhem as well as numerous warehouses. The plot thickens with semi-trucks, gravel trucks, fruit trucks and trucks that would be selling just about anything from their back. Your patience and tolerance will be tested whilst battling people rushing to work and trucks rushing to god knows where. Especially if one truck filled with plastic cups or bananas makes a  harsh lane switch, and all of its load gets spilled across expressway…

Insurance is a trap – Miami 101

You’re a decent, rule abiding person who loves everything to be by the book? Well you’re in trouble. The insurance cost in Miami is so ridiculously high that it is almost not worth purchasing it. On the other hand, the way people decide to disobey traffic rules and drive how they please creates a lot of traffic accidents. The law states that insurance must be purchased, but the fine for not having one is measly 85$. Basically, paying this fine once a month without any car accidents, and it would still cost you far less than the insurance itself.

The common way people in Miami deal with insurance is simple. They pay it the first time they are taking the car out of the lot, and they never renew it. Basically, if you’re tight with your budget, drive defensively and hope that an F series Ford doesn’t smack half of your car.

Miami Traffic Bread and Butter – The Horn!

Traffic in India is not the only traffic that encourages the usage of your horn. Granted, there are just going to be weird people honking for no apparent reason, or honking to attract the attention of ladies walking down the street. Let’s face it, that is just silly. On the other hand there are legitimate reasons for using your horn:

  • Someone has spent over half a second not moving when the green light goes on
  • There are not 3-4 cars lined up pass a red light
  • Someone in front of you is not driving fast enough for your taste
  • Someone cuts you off
  • You see an acquaintance driving nearby
  • ACDC TNT song comes on the radio
  • You genuinely enjoy the sound of your horn
  • You just feel like it

Nobody will frown upon such behavior. You will be a Miami local.

Miami Traffic Expert

Mastering all of the above mentioned tricks will be your fast lane to becoming a Miamian. it may all sound difficult but a weeks practice and you’ll be an expert. Learning to drive in such a harsh environment will prepare you to drive anywhere in the world. Following these customs will have you fit right in, and in no time you will become infuriated by the audacity of someone who decides to stop at a red light, expressing your dissatisfaction with constant honking and a servitude of harsh words. Damn tourists, eh?

However, if you fail to fit these standards you still do have two options. One: pull your windows up, play some music you like and shield yourself from external noise. And two: indulge in public transportation. It may not be as comfortable or time effective, but it will still get you to wherever you need to go and maybe save on some money and nerves.

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