10 Things to Know about Dallas: Traffic Edition

Dallas is a fun city. There’s a lot to do, thousands of places to eat, and many recreational activities. To get anywhere in the metroplex, you’ll most likely drive, so you need to be aware of a few things. Having lived there for four years during graduate school, I know my way around the city and now offer you some advice.

1. Dallas is a driving city. The metroplex is big, but it’s not a walking city. If you want to get anywhere in the city, you need to leave at least 30 minutes ahead of time. Yes, there is public transportation, but because everything is so spread out, you still may have to walk forever to get to your destination.

2. Parking can be brutal. You know how Southern women are obsessed with monograming everything? Well, every business in Dallas must be owned by a Southern woman because each parking space has the name of a business on it. If you’re planning on having a meeting at a restaurant in just an hour-long lunch break, pick a restaurant where people can park easily. That is, if you want to meet for the whole hour as opposed to a shortened break since no one could find a place to park.

3. Saturday traffic can be as crazy as weekday rush hour. No joke. You have plans to travel along North Central Expressway for some Saturday lazze fare shenanigans and surprise! You get on the expressway only to find that it’s a parking lot. It can also be this way on LBJ or the tollway.

4. Speaking of Saturdays, Northpark Mall is a circus on this restful day. Plan to get there early, at least by 10:00am, but brace yourself for long lines at H&M, acrobats and loud music near the food court, and mile-a-thoners (There’s an indoor track around the edges of the mall that measures out to be a mile. This track has no lines to mark it off from the rest of the mall, but you will see people in their workout gear walking at a determined pace.)

5. When driving through an intersection with a yellow light, make sure you have enough momentum to get to the other side before the light turns red. If not, check your mailbox for a $75 ticket with a photo of your car running a red light. Some intersections will even have video evidence. Don’t worry, it probably won’t end up on YouTube.

6. Potholes. They’re everywhere. Even in the nice parts of town, you’ll come across these little boogers.

7. Try not to get distracted by the opulent vehicles that swarm the city. BMW, Lexus, Mercedes, Land Rover, Audi. All of these are considered pocket change in comparison to the more luxurious breeds such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Ferrari, and Bentley. Oh, but don’t be too judgy about it. If you live in Dallas long enough, you’ll convince yourself that you need one.

8. Church parking. Well, this one is common in many cities, but what distinguishes Dallas from the others is that church services fill up so heavily that people have to come back to a later service because the current one is too full.

9. Even though Dallas gets really hot in the summer, you’ll be surprised to find that the roads get really icey during the winter. No reason to complain, however, because you get to stay home while the city of Dallas figures out what to do with this odd thing called “ice.” Get your necessary supplies from the survivalist section of Walmart. Yes there is such a section in the Walmarts of Dallas. It’s where the hunting gear would be.

10. You’re never far from a Starbucks (or a quaint, local coffee shop), and you’ll need something to sip on while driving to your destination. How else do you think a big city keeps going? I’ve heard the most interesting conversations while studying in Starbucks. That time I was staring at my laptop while seemingly in a daze of writer’s block? Confession: I was actually distracted by a director pitching a movie to potential supporters, by a bride-to-be detailing the events of her special day to a wedding planner, by musicians warming up for a performance at the country club, and by a store manager interviewing a potential new hire for a fashion boutique.

You’ll notice that I didn’t say anything about incompetent drivers in the list, but now that I think about it I do need to warn you. Those big rigs drive in the left lane and they will cut you off. Do not try to get in a driving battle with them. Also, you’ll see a line of traffic in the left lane and wonder why it’s so backed up before noticing the one car that’s holding up the rest of the lane. See why you need a Starbucks to sip on?