The Newcomers Notebook

By Phil La Borie

The Newcomers Notebook

A Newcomer’s Guide to Grand Strand Rules of the Road

As a newcomer to the Grand Strand, I have noticed some curiosities in and around my newly adapted home and in conversation with Sasee we decided that my observations might prove to be beneficial for other newcomers. I hope you find them interesting, informative and at least entertaining.

First, a little background: I am a transplanted resident from the New York metro area, and as such, have been exposed to just about every type of road condition, driver behavior and unexpected occurrence you can imagine – everything from enormous and untended potholes (I think some may be deep enough to reach China), huge trucks inches from your back bumper, ill-tempered taxi drivers with apparent death wishes, bike messengers darting like fragile fireflies between streams of traffic – I thought I’d seen it all.

Not so.

Here on the Grand Strand, it’s pretty much the opposite. Of all things, drivers actually wave to one another. They often also pull out over the double line to give pedestrians a sense of security when coming toward them. Moreover, most drivers let other cars pull into the lane in front of them, even going to the extreme of blinking their headlights to let an incoming driver know that it’s safe to proceed. Absolutely unbelievable! Residents here could teach Big Apple drivers a thing or two about common car courtesy.

As a newcomer, I encourage the rest of us “newbies” to follow these time-honored southern customs. Makes for a much more relaxing trip to the grocery store and reduces the need for stress medication. Here are some other observations you might want to keep in mind:

3 x 17

While making my way to the Myrtle Beach office of the DMV (I might add that experience was also unlike anything I had to deal with up north – it was quick, effortless and pleasant), I found to my chagrin that Highway 17 has two cousins, Highway 17 Bypass and Highway 17 Business. This is important information for newcomers since some street addresses are not clearly indicated on any building or mailbox. MapQuest and Google often prove to be of no help either. This confusion can result in considerable delay in reaching your destination. So, make sure you know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there – that knowledge can save you a lot of time and those unpleasant interchanges between the person driving and the back seat driver.

Driving Miss Daisy

Unless you’re riding comfortably in the back of a large automobile with a knowledgeable and experienced driver like Morgan Freeman at the wheel, attempting to get across 17 Business and 17 Bypass can be a challenging process. I always wonder if the oncoming traffic is in the lane I’m trying to get into, the next lane over, or perhaps even in the center strip. My solution to all of this is to simply turn right, go to the next traffic light, make another right turn, then turn around and come back to the highway prepared to go on your merry way. This maneuver may take a few more minutes of your time, but I’ve found it greatly reduces anxiety.

Two other things to keep in mind: Both Horry and Georgetown County law enforcement officers are very vigilant about ensuring that ALL motorists keep to the set speed limits. In my short time here, I don’t know how many cars I’ve seen pulled over for speeding. It simply isn’t worth it.

Law enforcement vigilance also extends to insisting that running the yellow light is a “no-no.”

Of course, all of this is simply common sense and makes for much safer driving conditions. It also is a great way to continue the tradition of courtesy and southern hospitality, which are such important aspects of living here.

Par for Golf Carts

With the tourist season virtually over, golf cart traffic is very much diminished, but over the summer, I was amazed at the amount of cart traffic – they seemed to be everywhere. In addition, the electric models are completely silent! When I was out walking, I found that they often approach you from behind with absolutely no warning. And since visitors operate many of them, they have no idea that you can’t hear them coming. A word to the wise; while carrying a small hand mirror might be a good way to keep an eye on the traffic behind you, simply sticking to one side of the sidewalk – either going with or against golf cart and bike traffic and staying in your lane is a lot more practical.

As to operating the carts, Section 56-2-105 of the South Carolina Golf Cart Laws states that any operator must hold a valid South Carolina driver’s license and be at least 16 years old. I’ve noticed both visitors and residents alike largely ignore that rule. So while it’s great fun to let younger drivers take the wheel, the next time you’re heading to the beach or cruising up and down your street, it is against the law.

Fall Car Care Tips

As winter approaches, be sure to take your car to your favorite mechanic and have him (or her) check that your windshield wipers are in good working condition and that your wiper, brake, transmission and battery fluids are topped up. By taking a little precaution now, you can save considerable expense down the road. Happy motoring!

One Good Turn Deserves Another

I hope that these “Rules of the Road” tips are of use to you. I have to remind myself to observe them when I’m out driving around the Grand Strand. Doing so makes me feel that I’m contributing in a positive way to maintaining our reputation as a welcoming and hospitable community. That’s quite a different approach from where I came from!

About this writer

  • Phil La Borie Phil La Borie is an award-winning writer/artist based in Garden City, South Carolina. His work has been published in AdWeek, The Kaiser-Permanente Journal, Westworld Magazine and online at Phil is the 2015 winner of the Alice Conger Patterson Award offered through the Emrys Foundation. He can be reached at

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2 Responses to “The Newcomers Notebook”

  1. My daughter recently spent a week there and can confirm what you said about 3 X 17. South Carolina sounds like a place I could call home. Great fun observations Phil.

    • Phil La Borie says:

      Many thanks, Linda!

      The more I discover about this area, the more intriguing it becomes — to say nothing of sitting on the front porch in shorts and a t-shirt in Oct!.!

      IYou can look for more newcomer notes in upcoming issues.



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