Pennsyltexas? (Update #2)


  1. Originally published, December 26, 2020, at 11:23 am.
  2. December 26, 2020, 11:06 pm:
    • Pittsburgh apparently expects tire friction, engine and exhaust heat to clear its streets. They still aren’t clear, although I did see a snow plow dispensing salt along Pioneer Avenue in the Brookline neighborhood. That was a very rare exception. Also on the appalling list: McKeesport and, to a much lesser extent, Braddock.


So one of the things that absolutely amazed me upon arrival in Pennsylvania was the speeding. Driving about five miles per mile above the speed limit is normal and expected in most places. On many roads in southwest Pennsylvania, you’ll often be harassed by other drivers if you’re going anything less than ten, twenty, even twenty-five miles per hour over or more (where I come from, twenty-five over is reckless driving).

It turns out that part of the story is that local police in Pennsylvania don’t have RADAR. A bill was introduced to allow them to use it but, as far as I’ve seen, nothing came of it. So only the state troopers have it.[1] The troopers seem similarly tolerant of speeding, which of course means you’re a lot more likely to be pulled over if you’re Black.[2]

Here’s another oddity: Police need a warrant to search your vehicle, which apparently means that if they want to search your vehicle, they’ll tow it at your expense and deprive you of it for a day or two while they get the paperwork. I actually have driven past scenes where searches were clearly taking place, but this seems to have been during an interregnum when such searches were permitted, in a decision the state Supreme Court has now reversed.[3]

James Carville allegedly described Pennsylvania as “Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between.”[4] I’ve also been welcomed to “Pennsyltucky,” referring to:

Rural parts of Pennsylvania with large concentrations of country folk, noted for interest in Hunting, Country Music, NASCAR, trailer life, Wal-Mart and working at the plant. Often spotted wearing camouflage with full grown beards or unkept caveman appearance driving pickup trucks with gun racks. Note: PA has the largest Rural population of any state, not everyone who lives or is from these regions is a red neck, hick or country bumpkin and most who don’t dislike the reference “Pennsyltuckey” and find it insulting.[5]

(“Pennsyltuckey” refers to a different, but culturally similar definition in the Urban Dictionary.[6])

But you know what? This capitalist libertarian streak, also seen with a federal court decision (later overturned[7]) blocking Governor Tom Wolf’s COVID-19 lockdown orders,[8] has me thinking Texas, as in Pennsyltexas.

The headline is wrong on Sarah Gisriel’s article: It wasn’t the state legislature that mandated the change, but rather the state Supreme Court reversing itself.[9]

Sarah Gisriel, “State lawmakers once again mandate vehicle warrants, raises questions for recent cases,” WHTM, December 25, 2020,

  1. [1]Anne Shannon, “Proposed legislation could make Pennsylvania last state to allow local police to use radar,” WGAL, February 14, 2020,
  2. [2]Actual evidence is not available for many Pennsylvania police departments, but in those for which statistics are available, some racial discrepancies do appear, including in Harrisburg where more out of town white drivers get pulled over for speeding. Usually, however, minority drivers are most at risk: Ivey DeJesus, “Does a driver’s race factor into traffic stops by Pa. police? It’s nearly impossible to tell,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, December 9, 2019,
  3. [3]Sarah Gisriel, “State lawmakers once again mandate vehicle warrants, raises questions for recent cases,” WHTM, December 25, 2020,
  4. [4]Your Dictionary, “James Carville Quotes,” n.d.,
  5. [5]Brian Lauskies, “Pennsyltucky,” Urban Dictionary, September 26, 2006,
  6. [6]Sherman, “Pennsyltuckey,” Urban Dictionary, February 9, 2005,
  7. [7]Greg Stohr, “Supreme Court Rejects Challenge to Pennsylvania Shutdown Order,” Bloomberg, October 5, 2020,; Paula Reed Ward, “Appeals court allows Gov. Tom Wolf, state to restore covid crowd restrictions,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 1, 2020,
  8. [8]Paula Reed Ward, “Federal judge rules Gov. Wolf’s shutdown orders were unconstitutional,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 14, 2020,
  9. [9]Sarah Gisriel, “State lawmakers once again mandate vehicle warrants, raises questions for recent cases,” WHTM, December 25, 2020,

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