Tennessee has a "Move-Over Law", the gist of which is: if you see a moving emergency vehicle, you are to move to the far right lane and stay there when possible and safe to do so. This is the case in most states. However, it further states that, if you should see a STATIONARY emergency or recovery vehicle, you should also remove yourself one lane if it is safe to do so, or else slow your speed.
I had moved to Tennessee the week before, and was reporting to my new job. I saw two policemen on the LEFT shoulder (that would be the fast lane, children!) who had pulled over a car. Immediately upon passing them, the second policecar pulled into traffic and pulled me over. I was cited for failing to comply with the move-over law. The officer was not swayed by the fact I just moved there the week before, yadda yadda.
I have my court date in January, but in the meantime, be aware of the law - they mean it! For the record, I do understand why the law is in effect - I knew about moving over for moving vehicles - it just did not occur to me that it would include stationary vehicles in the fast lane...
**UPDATE: I had my day in court - it did not go well. The judge made an opening statement that you can plead guilty, or not guilty. There is no such thing as guilty, but with a really really good excuse... Hence, my defense went out the window. My fine was reduced to $20 plus court fee of $47, and I was sentenced to traffic school ($95). Plus I had to pay for parking ($12) and had ordered my LA driving record ($17). So, in essence, I had to pay $191, when, had I just paid the original fine, it would have been $97 ($50 fine plus $47 administrative cost). Next time (if there is a next time), I will just pay the stupid ticket... :-(
Having grown up on the west coast, learning to drive in Nashville was a major education. Having talked with folks from all over the country, I discovered I wasn't alone in this.
Nashville isn't built on a grid like most cities. It's more like driving along a spider's web with downtown at the center. There's also a quick transition from uban to rural driving in some areas. So here are some general pieces of advice:
1) Get a map. Without a good map, you will get lost everytime you leave the Interstates. Even residents get lost here.
2) If you miss an exit, loop back and get off at the one you wanted. Most roads don't run parallel, so it may not be easy to 'cut over' to your original street.
3) Avoid driving between 7:30-9:00 am and 4:30-6:30 pm. These are rush hours and getting anywhere worthwhile is frustrating. Wait an hour and drive the speed limit.
4) Nashvillians DO NOT merge well. Experienced city drivers will want to be alert at all onramps.
5) Be warned that locals give directions based on buildings, not street names or exit numbers. 'Turn left at the Krystal past the BP station.' Another good reason to have the map handy.
6) At stoplights, make sure you stay back far enough to see the lights. Many are placed so that the first driver in line has to crane over the dashboard to see it turn green.
7) Street names can change for no reason whatsoever. They can also shift without notice. Old Hickory Blvd, at one point, has a 2-mile shift. The unwary will continue onto Bell Rd, never knowing they should be much further south.
8) In case I didn't mention it, make sure you get a good map!!
No, not a caution not to take a tour, but a caution if you are driving to watch them carefully so as not to hit them. They seem to have a tendency to stop wherever they want, even if its in the middle of the street so their clients can see what they wish. I almost hit this one for two reasons. It stopped suddenly, and I was trying to take a foto of something across the street :o) Ok, but still good warning be careful, there are a lot of walkers on the street especially weekends, and always lots of tourbuses, with people getting on and off. Seemed a number of people just wander out and expect cars to stop for them. Just be careful. Along Broadway and West End Streets and generally downtown, there is a lot of traffic and "rubberneckers".
Just in case you get any funny ideas about enjoying yourself in the wee hours of the morning! Obviously there is a problem involving hot-blooded young guys prowling the streets in their 'flash' cars as they try to impress the ladies!
As with any growing city, traffic can be either congested or 75 miles an hour BUMPER TO BUMPER. People drive like maniacs frequently and accidents are numerous in a typical day, causing major jams. (Frequently construction detours can gum up the works too)
This is a great city, but like any other there are places to avoid. Stay close to the main
hotel district downtown and don't wander down dark roads on foot or by car. I once stayed at the Hyatt, which IS lovely. Next morning I could see from my window that only two blocks away was a sleezy looking group of Housing Projects. Not a section I would wish to visit day or night.
Driving in Nashville, particularly on the Interstates, can be potentially dangerous. Many sections of the Interstates are under construction and have been for some time. This means sudden lane shifts and many, many barricades. Also, local drivers can (and often do) drive recklessly and with a lack of regard for courtesy. If you drive in Nashville for any length of time, you will learn that drivers will suddenly change lanes without signalling. Also, you will learn that if you *do* use turn signals, people will often speed up rather than let you merge into the desired lane. A certain sense of 'ME FIRST' has overtaken what used to be a very friendly, courteous area to drive in. If you *must* drive, be *very* alert.