The amazing drivers of Los Angeles, California
If you've ever lived in Los Angeles, and driven around there, you have seen some of the most amazing drivers there are, people who have driven those streets and freeways for years. I only lived there for a short while, but I'm still amazed at how good most of the drivers in Los Angeles are.
Now calm down there, of course there are exceptions. Not everyone who drives in Los Angeles falls into the category of amazing, or even good, but the vast majority are. And there are reasons for that.
The first reason that I discovered as why Angelinos are such good drivers is that they aren't overwhelmed by the traffic, like most outsiders are. I've ridden with people who grew up there, and their degree of calmness is just amazing to me. They deal with such wildly complex traffic that it would have my nerves jangled! But like I say, it's what they know.
Another important factor in Los Angeles is that that there are very few tourists. The vast majority of people drive those streets and freeways every day, and they not only know the laws, the know many unspoken understandings. And that's because it is crowded. When a turn signal comes on, people know that a car wants to change lanes, and they hesitate. They don't allow a football field-length space, they know what's right. If you've ever been on a fast-moving Los Angeles freeway, it feels more like NASCAR than anything else. The formation are tight!
I learned to drive in Minneapolis, and even though the freeways were smaller and more crowded than where I live now, in Phoenix, you could actually just follow the signs. If you saw an exit sign, you could move over to exit. Not so in Los Angeles. I like to say that if you see an exit sign, you've already missed it. Angelinos get over well in advance of any sign - they just know. In fact, the signs could all be taken down from the freeways, and most people in LA wouldn't even notice.
Drivers in Los Angeles aren't risk-takers. In many places, there's no place to pull over and exit, so they don't take chances. If someone is trying to turn left onto a very busy street, you would be safe to assume it's not someone who lives there.
Overall, I'd say that the word cooperation describes the Los Angeles driver. They take their right-of-way, and know it, and give room as needed. It's like people in a crowd, and it's actually kind of nice to see.
Back when I lived in LA, I used to see bumper stickers that said, "You don't have to tell me you're a native, I can tell by how you drive!" It was supposed to be a criticism, but once you know, you see that's it's a compliment. These guys are good!
Image at the top of this post: Driving from Los Angeles to Phoenix in 1910.
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Posted by Brad Hall