Vail Valley: Here’s some love for Colorado’s traffic |

Vail Valley: Here’s some love for Colorado’s traffic

Give me traffic on Interstate 70 eastbound on a Sunday in the late afternoon or early evening during ski season. I will even take Interstate 25 traffic Monday through Friday at rush hour, but please don’t make me drive in New York and Northern New Jersey ever again.

We recently had to be in the greater New York metropolitan area for personal reasons, so we were forced to deal with the realities of bridges, inbound tunnels, outbound tunnels, crosstown traffic, taxi cabs, toll plazas, and local drivers who practice the art of this commute twice a day, five days a week, 50 weeks a year. I am talking about drivers who have one sole purpose – survival.

These are experts – not necessarily expert drivers, but well trained and adept automobile contortionists. They bob and weave, and seemingly bend their vehicles around trucks, buses, curbs, and your car with either the greatest of ease or an attitude of “I really don’t care if I hit your car or you hit mine.” They proudly wear those dings and dents on their chariots like battle scars and trophies as if there was a daily competition or race going on.

I actually watched a guy in an older model Mercedes try to parallel park in a space between two cars that could barely fit a small Volkswagen. As he attempted to back into the spot, he nudged the Toyota Camry enough to move it a foot backwards. Then he bumped into the black Ford Escape in front of him and pushed it forward a few inches, and then a couple of feet. He repeated this process until he squeezed his car into that spot. He was so good at this it was apparent that he had completed this particular procedure many times before.

Blinkers must be a luxury item in this area as people don’t seem to have them. They practice a more stealthy type move, waiting for the first driver to back slightly off of the car in front of them and then they swerve in without notice or a care in the world, like it is an expected behavior.

Did I mention that this all goes on while driving 65 mph? Cars driving 65 mph, so close to the car in front of them that they are almost in the back seat, and jumping in and out of lanes to try to gain one more car length or position in line. Should you not keep up, and drift a few feet away from the vehicle directly in front of you, someone will cut in front of you and never think twice about it.

The funny thing is I grew up just outside of New York on the New Jersey side. My first couple of jobs had me driving into the city sometimes daily if not weekly. And I had to become a survivalist.

I spent many years accepting that this was my job and I had to become one of them in a kill-or-be-killed commute. But in 1996 I relocated to Colorado and my driving universe changed, my paradigm shifted, and my expectations and outlook became one with the Colorado sunshine.

Sure, things get slow on I-70 and I-25. Yes we have wrecks, and absolutely we have careless drivers. But having witnessed both, I will take the Colorado traffic and drivers any time over the New York/Northern New Jersey rat race. Maybe our Coloradan drivers daydream about the mountains and the snow-covered peaks and we miss a green light or get a delayed start, but at least 90 percent of us tolerate it and would never think of beeping a horn or getting upset.

So the next time you have to wait in Colorado traffic, be thankful you are on your way to the mountain, maybe just off the mountain on a powder day, possibly headed to an evening out in downtown Denver, or even headed to work, and just be flat-out grateful we live and drive in beautiful Colorado.

Again, keep sending those e-mails – I love them and would love to hear your thoughts on your driving and traffic at and make it a better than good week.

Michael Norton is a strategic consultant, business and personal coach and motivational speaker, and CEO of He writes a weekly motivational column for the Vail Daily.

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