A PRIMER.

  1. There are no rules.

  2. Dave Barry made the observation that in Miami, drivers follow the rules of their respective countries of origin. If you come from a place where people always use their turn signals for changing lanes and keep at the speed limit, you'll be quite surprised the first time you come to South Florida and see twenty-year-old Chevrolets with seven passengers doing figure-eights on the Palmetto Expressway at 90 miles an hour. You'll get used to it, hopefully.

  3. Rush hour will kill you... probably from old age.

  4. It's usually best not to get on any expressways between 8 and 9 AM, and if you try to use Interstate 95 during this period, you deserve all the fumes and palpitations you get from the experience. Checking radio traffic reports for accidents is a waste of time, because there is always at least one accident on every freeway every morning. Your best bet is to keep off the highways until 9:30 or so.

  5. Old age rules from November to March.

  6. Come during the winter, and you'll quickly be surrounded by four-foot Yoda lookalikes (who couldn't see the signature line on their driver's licenses) driving Nimitz-class Buicks at two miles an hour down the left lane of Interstate 595, keeping careful formation to ensure that nobody on the freeway can exceed the average land speed of a blue whale. Sidewinders come in useful here.

  7. Though the light tells you to, it's not best to stop.

  8. I think Dr. Dre originally said this about the slums of LA, but the same rule applies to all streets in Miami proper more than seven blocks away from the city center, and especially to Overtown, Liberty City, and the other crack-and-shoelaces antitheses to South Beach. If you see a red light, look around to make sure nobody's coming, then haul ass. Pretend it's a stop sign, pretend you're being chased, and you should come out alive.

  9. If you have an out-of-state license plate, a firearm is a good idea.

  10. A few years ago, German tourists were being shot in Miami while driving their rental cars with out-of-state plates. This isn't a major problem nowadays, but I still recommend you have a weapon in case someone like me sees you on the road and assumes you're a doddering 70-year-old based on your Quebec plate. ("Souviens this, motherfucker!")

  11. Have quarters.

  12. We have tolls in Miami, and they can sneak up on you. If you don't smoke, throw a few Washingtons in the ashtray. If you do smoke, be sure to wash your hands afterwards.

  13. South Beach? Ha! Ha-ha!

  14. Don't attempt to drive here. Please. You're wasting your time and mine. Once you're about a mile away from the club district, it's far more productive to just park and finish your journey on a skateboard.

  15. When the first rain falls, be prepared to curse.

  16. Nobody in South Florida can drive in the rain. They all slow down to five miles an hour, turn on their hazard flashers, and clam up. They will piss you off, and you will curse at them. Don't worry: it's fun, and it's good cardiovascular exercise.

  17. Know the HOV. Respect the HOV.

  18. The HOV is the left lane on I-95, denoted by a diamond. It's for cars with two or more people. If you drive in it during rush hour, and you're the only person in the car, a piggy will pull you over and give you a piggy slip. Some people have attempted to outwit the piggies by putting mannequins in their cars, but the piggies have gotten smarter, bless their cold widdle hearts.

  19. Be prepared for anything.

  20. Miami today is what New York City was ten years ago. Anything goes, and nobody's mature enough to restrain themselves properly. Stay sharp, and you won't get beaten, maimed, or rear-ended for insurance purposes.

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