3 DRIVING – podcast episode 3 – transcript

Hello! A friend of mine has just received a ticket for driving on a Toll Road in California without making the proper payment. That reminded me of our episode number 3.

Learn something about the rules of the American road in our episode titled “DRIVING” on iTunes or here :  


And here’s the transcript!  Enjoy!  Marta


M – In this episode we’re going to talk about DRIVING !

C -Nearly everyone owns a car in America. In cities you will find trains and subways and city buses, but as soon as you exit the city limits you may find it difficult to maneuver about without a car.

M – Maybe that’s why car rentals are so commonly used.

C – We have a well developped and maintained system of highways and secondary roads, and driving coast to coast maybe is the best way to experience America. By driving you can enjoy the people and places that don’t make it into the guide books.

M – In Europe a lot of people have the dream of being out on the open road, riding a Harley Davidson motorcycle maybe on Route 66, lost in the endless landscape

C – We all wish we could kiss our job goodbye and hit the road !

M – Hey, listeners, if you plan to make this dream a reality, before you go, do a little research and familiarize yourselves with the rules of the American road!

C – You won’t find the same organized chaos that you find in some parts of the world, driving laws are strictly enforced. We drive on the right side of the road, we get our driver’s license at 16. In case you rent a car, you must be at least 25.

M – What if I’m driving and I come upon a check-point? What will the cop do to me?

C – First off, don’t call him a cop. The police officer will stop you and ask for your documents, your driver’s license and vehicle registration, if he finds a violation you will be issued a ticket.

M – A ticket.

C – And if you think you don’t have to pay your ticket because you live outside of the Country, you may receive it at home in the mailbox.

M – …exactly like a birthday card !

C – Except that this asks you for money .

M – Yes. Well, back to our check-point, what else may the officer be searching for?

C- Anything really, undocumented immigrants, drugs, drunk drivers… if the officer suspects you may be under the influence of alcohol you may be given a breathalyzer test.

M – So, listeners, don’t drink and drive!

C – The penalties are severe.

M – Before you go out make sure you have a designated driver.

C – Or cab money. And make sure you do not have any open liquor bottles or cans in your car while driving.

M – Cindy, in order to introduce the next topic I’m gonna quote the film ‘Top Gun’.

C – Do it!

M – ‘I feel the need … the need for speed ! ‘ So, let’s talk about it.

C – Speed is great , speed is a lot of fun, as long as you’re within the limits. You won’t get very far before you come upon an officer with a radar gun and “the need….to catch you!”

M – That reminds me of a quote by Dudley Moore: “The best car safety device is a rear-view mirror with a cop in it.”

C – Works for me every time! So keep an eye on the speed limit signs and be aware that the limit can change quickly for instance from 55 miles per hour to 35.

M – Oh, and a mile is about 1.6 km.

C – Remember when you’re travelling abroad to check the unit of measure, for example if you need to get gas, to gas up, gasoline is measured in gallons.

M – A gallon is about 3.79 liters.

C- Right, since gas prices are rising steadily I recommend you pick an economy car when choosing a rental. Stay away from the gas guzzlers.

M – …gas what?

C – A gas guzzler, a vehicle that drinks gasoline because it’s too large or too old and inefficient. To guzzle means to drink or eat fast. For example: it was really hot and I was parched, that is to say I was really thirsty, so I guzzled down a bottle of water.

M – Ok, clear. When I went to America I rented an economy car and it was also very easy to operate.

C – Most cars in America have automatic transmission and many offer cruise control. Two things that make long journeys more comfortable. As well as radio traffic reports around big cities, that can help you during rush hours, times of heavy traffic.

M – Well Cindy, traffic reports would have helped me, had I understood them!

C – Oh, would you like to go through a traffic report with me? We can review some of the words together.

M – All right, that’s a great idea. And you’re on in 3… 2… 1 !

C – I’m Cindy with your Ride Home Traffic Report. A few problems out on the beltline this evening due to ”black ice” making your evening commute a bit longer than usual. There’s a multi-car pile up on the inner belt line. Emergency personnel are on the scene clearing away debris. The outer belt line is clear, but starting to slow down due to some rubbernecking from passersby. There’s a minor fender-bender at exit 12, but all vehicles have been cleared from the scene and traffic lanes are once again moving. That’s all for now on your Ride Home Traffic Report. Drive safely everyone.

M – All right, could you explain a few things, starting with the “beltline” ?

C – The beltline or beltway is a highway that by-passes the city center and makes a circle around the city.

M – And “black ice”.

C – Black ice is rain that has frozen over, so it’s the same color of the road and very dangerous.

M – And what is a “commute”?

C – Your commute is your journey from your home to your school or workplace.

M- And then a “pile up” ?

C – That’s a multi-car accident. More than one car has been involved.

M – What’s next? “rubbernecking”.

C – Have you ever noticed, Marta, that whenever there is an accident on one side of the highway the traffic slows down on the opposite side?

M – Yeah, always and that drives me crazy!

C – Me too! that’s rubbernecking, drivers slowing down, because they’re turning to look at the accident that happened on the other side.

M – The last one: “fender-bender”.

C – A fender-bender is a minor accident , with minor damage.

M – It’s all clear now, the next time I visit the States I will surely understand the local traffic reports.

C – And our listeners too ! Hey guys, just a couple of rules to avoid close calls, and by close calls I mean to come close to having and accident.

M – Ok.

C – #1 : when you get to an intersection with a 4 way stop sign the driver to arrive first is the first one to go, so pay attention and wait your turn. #2 : in many cases it is possible to turn right at a red light unless there is a clear sign stating “no right on red”.

M – Oh, that’s why everyone was beeping at me when I was in Los Angeles ! Speaking of L.A., I noticed special lanes in the highways over there, called car pool lanes.

C – Bigger cities will have car pool lanes on a highway, lanes designated for passenger vehicles with 2 or more people.

M – Any other rule?

C – #3 : do not tailgate, keep a reasonable distance between you and the car in front of you. If you follow too closely the driver in front of you may slam on the brakes to signal that you’re too close.
And #4 : don’t ever cut anyone off.

M – To cut off ?

C – To pull in front of a car abruptly without signaling first causing that driver to slam on his brakes.

M – It’s best to be thoughtful and never cut off a truck driver for example, expecially not the one I’m about to introduce to you now.
Hello, Barbara, welcome to ‘’My American Friend’’ thanks for being here.

B – You can just call me, Barb. Like ‘’barbed wire’’ . All my friends do.

M – Ok, then…Barb. Thanks for stopping by.

B – You Mexican?

M – Well..no Barb. I’m Italian.

B – Oh, my bad. I thought you’s Mexican. I like Mexicans. They’s good hard workin people.

M – …I’m sure they are…

B – (sound of beer can opening) Y’all party?

M – Well…Barb enjoy your beer, but Cindy and I don’t usually drink while recording our podcast, do we Cindy?

C – Not usually at 10 o’clock in the morning.

M – Right.

B – You a goddamned Yankee! That’s a dang ol’ Yankee voice. Ain’t nobody told me they gon’ be a dang New York Yankee up in here!

M – No, Barb, Cindy is from Connecticut.

B – An that’s close-a-damned-nuff.

M – Come on, Barb, Connecticut is a beautiful state!

B – I ain’t never lost nothing up north and I ain’t got no reason to go there.

M – Cindy, where are you going ?

C – Marta, I’m not feeling the love here. I’ll see you later ..

B – That’s right, take your ass on Yankee. Git! Aint no love for you here. I do Civil War reenactments, they call me the ‘’mule skinner’’! Y’all got a mule round here?

M – No… I’m sorry, we’re fresh out of mules here in the studio.

B – At’s too bad. Y’all mind if I smoke, it’s my day off? (sound of cigarette lighter)

M – Oh..you smoke cigars?

B – Yep, granny got me started. Nasty habit.

M – Well, thank you for joining us on your day off. what do you do for a living?

B – I’m a chicken truck driver.

M – A chicken truck driver?

B – Yes, a chicken truck driver. What? Oh, you think the chicken just gonna fly up onto your plate? Like you’re goddamned Lady Diana?

M – No.. I was just trying to get a visual on that.

B – I come from a long line of chicken truck drivers. My momma & daddy drove a chicken truck. My husband drives a chicken truck. And my daughter, Britney LeeAnn Jr…. They’s some hard working people behind every bite of food you eat.

M – And we sincerely thank you for that. Barb. Tell me, are you going to drink and drive after finishing that beer?

B – Aww, hell no. I learnt my lesson years ago. Had a close call out on a country road one night coming back from the bar.

M – Oh no…

B – Yeah, it was terrible. Put me straight off drinking and driving for good. I’d learned my lesson good that night.

M – What happened ?

B – (sigh) I’s drivin’ home after my 13th birthday party Momma throwed for me down at the bar…

M – ..wait….did you say 13th?

B – 13th….I had a little too much hooch that night, we’s riding home in the old truck and my little brother saw it first. Big ol’ deer running like the wind.

M – Oh no!

B – Yep. I didn’t see him. I’d been drinking. My good judgment was compromised. I’d had the shotgun right there in the seat behind me.

M – …wait, shotgun? What happened?

B – Big ol’ deer. Pretty one too. Lot a meat on him. Ran right on by. I missed him. I’d had a clear shot and I missed him. I coulda shot the som’ bitch and my whole family woulda eaten good for days. But my judgment was clouded by the devil’s juice… and my family went hungry.

M – That’s an amazing story.

B – I know. See, I’d learnt a valuable lesson that day, so young… that the things I do affect not only me but the ones around me. These actions touch my family, my friends old and new- such as yourself Marta.

M – Thank you.

B – So y’all be thoughtful of those around you. Don’t drink and drive. Before you party, appoint a designated driver. Someone who will stay sober and not drink. Or call a taxicab. It’s worth it in the long run.

M – Thank you, Barb. Thank you for your wise words.

B – I need to go now. Keep the Yankee in the closet until I’m out of sight.

M – Ok, Barb, thanks again and come visit any time.

B – I will. Y’all take care and come see us some time. Just don’t bring the Yankee.

M – I promise.

B – Bye y’all.

M – Bye Barb. Oh my goodness! So her problem was that she wasn’t able to shoot the deer and her family went hungry, not that she was 13 and driving, drunk and driving. Oh!
Well, Cindy! Cindy come back here!

C – Is she gone?

M – Yes Cindy, she’s gone. Tough woman, uh?

C – Did she open that beer with her teeth?

M – yeah.

C- That’s a perfect example of who you should not cut off or tailgate while driving in America, like we said, riding a harley on route 66.

M- Then the dream would become a nightmare. Cindy, since you mentioned the motorbike again, there’s something I want to ask you. I noticed that not all bikers wear helmets.

C – The helmet laws can change from State to State. So be sure to check on line before you go. Because you may find yourself in traffic court if you don’t wear a helmet when you’re supposed to.

M – And I know you have a story about that, don’t you Cindy?

C – I do. A true story, I won’t give you all the details, but I did find myself three years ago in a certain traffic court with a brilliant man who thought he would evade the cops by wearing a black trash bag on his head instead of a helmet.

M- A trash bag?! are you serious??

C – I swear it’s the truth. I heard his attorney say: “So, you were wearing a trash bag on your head?” and the man nodded in agreement.

M – I wonder what Barb would say about that…

C – I think she’d say “that boy ain’t got a lick of sense in his head”

M – And I agree with that… well folks, that’s all for now. let me remind you that you can find the transcription of this podcast on martainnocenti.com Well thanks for joining us .

C – And drive safely everyone, wherever you are, whether you’re in Las Vegas at a quicky drive-through wedding chapel or just McDonald’s ordering your lunch-time Big Mac !

M – Thank you for listening! See you next time!

C – Bye-bye !


HIT THE ROAD : to set out on a trip, to leave

COP : a police officer, cop is a familiar term

DRIVER’S LICENSE : Official document (in a card format) you carry with you at all times, allowing you to drive legally.

VEHICLE REGISTRATION : the legal documents issued by The Department of Motor Vehicles you must have in order to drive a car in the States. Vehicle registration card lists the identification number of the vehicle as well as the insurance company name and policy number specific to that vehicle. You must have car insurance and a drivers license to drive a car on the road in The United States.

TICKET : the fee, the penalty you have to pay for a traffic violation. Example: Speeding, failing to stop for a red light or stop sign, reckless driving, etc..

BREATHALYZER : a test to check if you’re driving under the influence of alcohol.

RADAR GUN : a device to check the speed of a vehicle

UNIT OF MEASURE IN THE USA : speed limit signs are MILES PER HOUR (a mile is about 1,6 km) and gasoline is measured in GALLONS (a gallon is about 3.79 liters).

a GAS GUZZLER : a vehicle that burns too much gasoline

to GUZZLE : to drink or eat fast.

to be PARCHED : to be really thirsty

AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION : gears are changed automatically as the vehicle moves, freeing the driver from having to shift gears manually

CRUISE CONTROL : a system that automatically controls the speed of a vehicle

RUSH HOURS : times of heavy traffic (usually between 7-9am and 4-6pm when people are driving to work)

BELTLINE / BELTWAY : a highway that by-passes the city center

BLACK ICE : a thin layer of frozen rain/ice, very dangerous because it appears to be the same color as the road (black).

a COMMUTE : the journey from home to school or workplace

a PILE UP : a multi-car accident

RUBBERNECKING : drivers slowing down, turning to look at the accident that happened on the other side of the road

FENDER-BENDER : a minor accident, with minor damage

CLOSE CALL : when you come close to having an accident

CAR POOL LANES : lanes designated for passenger vehicles with 2 or more people.

to TAILGATE : following too close while driving, not keeping a reasonable distance between two vehicles

to SLAM ON THE BRAKES : to stop abruptly

to CUT OFF : To pull in front of a car abruptly without signaling first

to BE FRESH OUT OF something : to have just run out of something

HELMET : a form of protective gear worn on the head to protect it from injuries.

TRAFFIC COURT : a municipality’s specialized judicial process for handling cases of traffic violation

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