Driving in Los Angeles
After living in the Los Angeles area for the last 35 years, I have come to realize that Los Angeles traffic is different than anywhere else in the country. Once or twice a year I take a road trip to my family homestead in Louisiana, so I have the opportunity to drive through several major cities and a lot of smaller cities.
Los Angeles traffic has the tendency to drive 10 to 20 miles per hour faster than anywhere else. Everywhere else, people tend to stay within the speed limits. Since there are so many cars in the Los Angeles area (Los Angeles has more cars registered in the county than people) people tend to also follow too closely. My general rule of thumb for following is one car length for every 10 miles per hour. When I do maintain my distance while driving on the freeway, someone inevitably pulls in front. In other cities, people tend to keep their distance.
I don’t know about other cities but when an emergency vehicle is approching from the opposite direction on a divided highway, why is it that drivers on the opposite side of the emergency vehicle…stop? What do they expect the driver to do…drive over an island with trees and shrubs to pass in their lane???
When a lane ends on the right, in Los Angeles, everybody must get as far ahead until almost driving on the shoulder, or drive on the shoulder for a distance. In other places, when a lane is ending, people merge in smoothly, without any problems.
When you buy a new car, I think an important fact that should be advertised on the window sticker is the 0 to 60 acceleration times. With half the distance on freeway on-ramps taken up with red lights, rapid acceleration to get up to speed is essential.
Be careful driving in the far right lane in Los Angeles…if a car is coming up an on-ramp, he will always speed up and pull directly in front of you, with inches to spare! Road rage is often started this way. When this happens, I just count to 5 and calm down. I do have an advantage that I use in Los Angeles traffic…I just crank up the fabulous stereo in my Element and enjoy my tunes. It’s funny how Brian Adams seems to have a calming effect on me.
In Los Angeles, the roads are always under construction somewhere, so lane diversions are a way of life. I do have to hand it to CalTrans though. They really try to open lanes as soon as they can.
When an accident happens in Los Angeles, it seems that everybody on the freeway has to stop and look at someone elses misfortune. It’s like they want to see blood. I thought that was just in racing! CalTrans is helping, though. Recently I have noticed an improvement in the construction of the center dividers. They are making them about one to two feet higher. This seems to cut down on the looky-loo traffic slowing down the flow of traffic on the freeways.
If you have a problem with your car on the freeway, if possible, don’t stop in the lane. Pull off to the side of the freeway as soon as safely possible, so as to not block the smooth flow of traffic.
I think that the best way to avoid being caught in an accident is to drive your car as if you and your car were invisible. If no one can see you, you tend to drive in a way that is ultimately safer. I learned this technique while I was in the military, driving my motorcycle.
Maintain your car! Check the tire pressure (including the spare) once a month. Get it serviced when necessary. A properly maintained vehicle will be efficient, safe and economical.
Be safe, get home alive and well.