Anthropocene Review: “Driving in Florida”

Inspired by John Green’s most recent book, “The Anthropocene Reviewed,” this is the first in a series of reviews examining the wonderful, interesting, and oftentimes annoying aspects of life on the planet Earth from the perspective of a high school student.

Sophia Berry, Editor

In May of last year, in the midst of the global pandemic, young adult novelist John Green published his first nonfiction book, reviewing the Anthropocene. The Anthropocene, as Green puts it, is “the current geological age, in which humans have profoundly reshaped the planet and its biodiversity.” In other words, it’s the age we’re living in. In a series of essays, Green reviews everything from Scratch ‘n’ Sniff Stickers to The Notes app on a five star scale. In a series of articles, I will do the same.

Driving in Florida

Florida is known for its beautiful weather, its preponderance of alligators, and its prime location for retirees. Other famed aspects, such as the “Florida Man,” have led others to, perhaps unduly, view Florida as being a haven for, to put it frankly, crazy people. One stereotype, however, is justly earned: that we Floridians are bad drivers. Now, as Floridians we like to blame it on the tourists and snowbirds, but when they all go home, and the Nissan Altima from Orange County is tailgating you on the highway, it isn’t the snowbird from Maine. 

Growing up in this environment, where I’m appalled on a daily basis by the awful driving I see on the 15-minute commute to school, has imbued me with me a sense of dread at just the thought of going on the highway. 

And it’s less often bumper to bumper traffic during rush hour, or the hour-long waits just to turn onto my street when it’s prime beach time, but more the retirees too short to reach the steering wheel and too vision-impaired to see the road. In my long, two-year driving career (I know, I know I’m a real expert), I have heard, seen, and experienced many tales of woeful driving and road rage galore.  

As I sat at a stoplight at three p.m. on a Thursday, I watched in horror as a red Dodge Charger, sitting behind me in the left turn lane, decided that waiting a few minutes for the light to change was just too much. They backed up and proceeded to make a U-Turn, not just across the median, but also just as oncoming traffic was turning into the lane. 

But Sophia, that’s just one person, not everyone here is a bad driver! To which I’d respond: that was actually the third time I’d seen someone pull that move. And it was just a few weekends ago that someone blocked traffic on Manatee because his boat fell off his truck as he was towing it! Or even better when a friend of mine was on the freeway and had to drive over a whole ladder.

And the worst part of this is that you can’t even honk at people (an acceptable form of road rage) for fear that the driver will turn violent. Note how a few months ago a motorcyclist shot a truck driver because he cut him off. 

Perhaps you think I’m being too harsh––and maybe I am––but consider this: Florida was ranked as the 13th most dangerous state to drive in with an average of 83.6 serious motor vehicle injuries per capita. Florida is the perfect storm for bad driving: the murderous road rage, the inclement weather, and the people who learned to drive before the end of World War II.

Not to mention the fact that the road is filled with people who have decided that they’re above the law. They don’t use their turn signals, they cross numerous lanes of traffic in order to make a turn, and they either can’t read the speed limit signs or just don’t want to. It seems obvious to me that when operating heavy machinery (re: cars) people would be careful or conscious of their actions or just generally aware of the road and those around them, but just purely based on the number of people who I’ve heard have been hit in the school parking lot, teen drivers are the worst of them all. 

So maybe next time you drive, don’t honk at the truck in front of you with an NRA sticker and stay back from the car with a “student driver” sticker on it, and have some patience with the elderly driver struggling to see past the windshield.

I give driving in Florida one star.

How would you rate driving in Florida?


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