Driving In Lalaland

So I’ve been meaning to write about driving in LA for some time now, but usually by the time I get home my bitter diatribe has worn off, and I forget. And can I just say that I never used to get so worked up over driving before I moved here. Well, that’s not entirely true. I’ve always found it completely annoying when people don’t use their blinkers. I consider it the height of stupidity and arrogance in driving. Stupidity because one of these days they’re going to change lanes without using their blinkers and someone else is going to be doing so at the same time, and there is going to be a major collision. (I had one such close encounter just this week, which was what prompted me to write this: I’m using my blinker, merging into the lane to my right and am 3/4 in when this IDIOT just juts over from the opposite lane and almost side-swipes me!! And he didn’t even pull away when he saw I was there; I had to slam on my breaks (and my horn) in order to avoid getting hit!) And secondly, arrogance because people who don’t use their blinker assume that everyone else on the road will wait for them or get out of their way. Don’t you just hate it when you’re waiting on traffic to make a turn and some idiot turns where you’re waiting, and you think to yourself, “If you had used your blinker I would’ve known you were turning and not wasted my time waiting for you to pass before I turned!” (Or if you’re me, you may shout this in the car knowing full well they can’t hear you).

LA has turned me into a much more aggressive driver. This was pointed out to me by my best friend, Christina, on my last trip home. I was driving, and she informed me that they way I drive has changed since I moved, and she doesn’t much like it ;). (Seriously?! That is awesome – I was so freaked out to drive on the freeways when I got here! I did however assure her that I would try not to freak her out so much when I drove!) But in all actuality if you aren’t aggressive you are never going to get anywhere here because everyone else is! Thankfully I have a little sports car, so I can tuck my nose into traffic and get in usually with no problem. However, I missed more turns when I first started driving here because I was sure I would get hit doing that!

Speed limits are more like decorative signs adorning the highway than actual laws. This is for one of two reasons: you’re either creeping along so slowly in the heavy traffic that you would kill to be going 65mph, or you’ve just broken free of traffic and you’re making up for lost time by going 80. Those are really the only two speeds here. You do have the occasional idiot who decides to go 65-70 in the fast lane when there is no traffic. After about 5 cars speed past on the right they usually get a clue and move over.

For all it’s craziness though there are very few accidents here. This is a complete bafflement to me. Back home wrecks on I-25 were a daily occurrence that would not only stop traffic in the direction they were located but also in the opposite direction as people did “curiosity slowing”. There is no curiosity slowing here (this is one area where Los Angeleans show their glimmer of sanity) – I mean what is the point of slowing down traffic and potentially causing more accidents just to look at the fender bender that you were not a part of, can’t help and in no way are related to? Seriously.

I am especially amazed there are not more accidents when you take into account the fact that so many exit ramps are also on ramps. So you have people exiting off the freeway while others are merging on – none of whom are using their blinkers – and it’s like taking your life in your hands every time you get on or off! (Yes the 9th street exit from the 110 and the on ramp from the 10 to the 110 is what I’m talking about! I had to take this for almost 3 years going to work and school, and I was daily amazed I wasn’t killed!)

One thing I have to say is that you hardly ever see cops on the freeways. I suspect this is because there are way more important things for them to deal with than be worried about giving out traffic tickets. In fact when you do see them they are usually flying by faster than the rest of traffic. They did make a good call by outlawing driving while talking on the phone or texting – that freed up brain power can now be put to work in remembering to use your blinkers, people!

All in all though I think I’ve become a much better driver since I moved here (although I’m sure some would disagree 😉 ). I’m much more aware of what all the other drivers are doing or may do around me (an absolute essential if you value your life and car at all!), and I’m able to navigate through heavy traffic fairly decently. I do sometimes wish I was crazy enough to ride a motorcycle though because that is really the way to get around in LA. The first time one of them flew by me driving on the lane line I almost had a heart attack, but as I realized this was a very normal occurrence, I began to envy them as I moved a snail-approved 3mph for 30 min straight! However, I value my life too much to ever ride a motorcycle on my own, especially here in LA where at any moment you could be splattered on the pavement as some unaware idiot merges into the lane as you’re passing, not using his/her blinker, and thereby alerting you to slow down. Props to my friend Sean for being so brave!!! (He assures me he doesn’t split traffic at more than 35mph to avoid said fate – not sure if he’s just telling me this just so I don’t worry or not – I’m choosing to believe it’s the truth though!)

Well, now that I’ve moved outside of LA I’m happy to report that there is an increased measure of sanity out there! It must be something that hits you once you get within a certain radius of the city…like passing through an invisible shield of crazy. However, that being said it’s quite an experience driving in LA….


~ by Shannon on September 4, 2009.

One Response to “Driving In Lalaland”

  1. Brannan would totally love living in California since he already drives this way! In fact, I think he has told me that he loved driving there when he was visiting.

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