Planning to visit or move to Southern California? Be careful driving, because Allstate and other insurance companies rank the drivers as some of the worst in the country. If you are not native to Southern California driving on the numerous freeways and roadways can be intimidating. Southern California’s have their own way of driving and it can be quite shocking to people from other places just how crazy it can get sometimes on the streets and freeways of cities like, Los Angeles.
It’s crowded, busy, distracting and annoying to drive in California, but you can survive the mayhem unscathed by being reactive, observant and calm, usually. So I have put together an explanation of some of the vehicular behaviors you can expect to see when driving in Southern Cali, not from everyone but quite a few and then you can be a more informed driver when you are driving there.
Can you guess what the first behavior will be? Drum roll….
1. The Famous California Rolling Stop (Pausing)
Okay admittedly this is the most known traffic infraction that the whole country attributes to Californians. Why? Because in Southern Cali people are usually in hurry and the roads can be congested leading to some drivers to become impatient. California is also heavily populated and has a lot of drivers. It’s no telling how many people are waiting for their chance to come to the stop sign and then move on. So when you are coming to a four way stop, anticipate the pause from other vehicles where normally they would have to come to a complete stop.
A rolling stop is usually when you come to a stop sign and instead of coming to a complete stop you brake and then continue driving. It is more of a pause than a stop and it’s so prevalent in places like Southern Cali. So feel free to come to a complete stop but don’t be surprised if you see many Californians just pausing.
2. Left Turns Mean Hurry Up and Go (Unsafe Turns)
The light turns green and you are making a left so you pull out into traffic and wait for the break in oncoming traffic so you can make the turn. Wait, but pay close attention, and as soon as you get the opportunity, safely make your turn.
But when the scenario is different and you are the one going straight and others are making the left turn anticipate someone will be impatient and turn in front of you a bit sooner than you may be ready for. Don’t be surprised if other drivers coming towards you are impatient and be ready if you are going straight because some impulsive idiot might cut in front of you, watch out!
3. We Can All Make the Green Light and the Yellow Light If You Would Just Go (Tailgating)
So the light turns green and traffic begins to go and you can expect drivers to ride your bumper when the light is green, because trust me after waiting for one of Southern Cali’s famously long street lights to change people are ready to go. Waiting at street lights are time consuming and remember a lot of Southern Californians are pressed for time so they tailgate.
But the issue gets worst when the light turns yellow and people are still going the attitude will most definitely be, “we all can make the light if you would just go”. It may be a little intimidating to have someone riding your bumper so don’t say nobody warned you. There will be an occasional person that will still continue to go when the light is red!
*sometimes when the light is yellow instead of slowing to stop, people will speed up tap the horn to let others know they are going through the red light!
You will also be tailgated on freeways which are way more dangerous. If you are on the freeway and a driver tailgates if it is safe you should get over into another lane, usually the far right which is for slower traffic.
4. We Turn Our Wheels (Flourishes)
Driving in other states I’m always surprised when people take the full force of pot holes or dips in the road. In Cali, we turn our wheels in these circumstances, for example when we cross rail road tracks. We slow down the car as we approach the tracks and as we cross we turn the steering wheel slightly to absorb the impact.
Whenever I’m driving with someone in the car and I’m in a state other than Cali, they always marvel, “why do you turn your wheels?” Well in L.A. you will ruin your shocks, struts, brakes axels etc. hitting road imperfections head on. So expect people to “flourish” when they “roll”. But it can be surprising if you never road with someone who drives that way.
*sometimes the car in front of you is rolling back because they are driving a stick shift, so anticipate flourishes and no flourishes
5. We Will Make a Parking Space Where There Is None So Go Around (Double Park)
You will see cars parked in the most unexpected ways in California, especially in cities where parking is limited. Southern Cali streets are full of people parking in red zones, and by fire hydrants and other illegal places.
But more than this you will see a lot of double parking as people who can’t find parking pull up, jump out, and run into buildings leaving you to go around them. And that’s if you are lucky.
Sometimes you can’t go around and will have to sit there until they come back, and this can be highly annoying especially if you are sensitive to disrespect. I hate having my time wasted, especially by someone who feels like what they have to do is more important than what I have to do. Yes, just like the rest of America, in Southern California you will run into entitled people. And while they will be driving Mercedes and BMW’s, they will still act like jerks so don’t be surprised because sometimes the nicer the car, the meaner the driver.
*remember that California has a lot of incidents of road rage, so while you may feel tempted to blow your horn until someone moves, you may be inciting the wrath of an unhinged driver so use caution and opt to remain calm in stressful situations and not up the ante.
6. Go with the Flow of Traffic
Now this is one of the driving behaviors you may seriously want to adopt and adopt this behavior fast and that is keeping up with the flow of traffic. Sometimes you need to get onto the freeway and pick up the speed to merge because California freeways are diverse. Some are slower and some are faster depending on factors like congestion. Trust me, there are a lot of speeding on the roads, but that’s not what this tip is about. When a congested freeway “opens up” people will start speeding up, and a person who is driving slower can cause an accident by not keeping up the pace with others.
There is always going to be some scared driver who will merge slowly and possibly cause an accident, or a person on the phone who is slowing up a lane. On freeways in L.A. you should keep up with traffic if at all possible, but if you have to drive slow stay to the right.
*keeping up with the flow of traffic does not mean speeding which is illegal, and that leads me to the next behavior
7. There is a fast Lane (Not Really)
While the left lane is reserved while the left lane is reserved for faster traffic it is technically not a “fast lane”, but Southern Californians don’t care. The left lane is called the fast lane and if you are in it I would advise you to either keep up with traffic without speeding, or move to the right.
You can incite road rage by continuing to stay in the left lane but going slower than traffic. If you notice someone tailgating, just move to the right. It’s not worth being right if it causes someone to be angry.
The last thing I would like to say is……
Be Prepared For Anything
Although you may be a skilled driver with a lot of ability, you should always drive in Southern California with a calm demeanor. Remaining calm will help you should you encounter vehicular behaviors that may cause you to have to react quickly to avoid an accident. Most people from Cali are chill, but the road rage does come out on occasion.
This is not a comprehensive guide to driving in Southern Cali, just a few honorable mentions.
But what do I know? I’m just a bootleg sociologist who nobody will listen to so I started a blog……….
What are your thoughts?
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What Is A California Stop? (ticketsnipers.com)
Is it legal to enter the intersection while waiting to turn left? | Bellingham Herald
Flow of Traffic Versus Speed Limit | Traffic Ticket Attorneys | Glendale Los Angeles, CA 91205 (thetrafficticketattorneys.com)
Southern California cities ranked at bottom of 2016 Allstate Best Drivers Report – ABC7 Los Angeles