Wednesday, July 11, 2007

How to drive in L.A.

It's no secret that Los Angeles has the worst traffic in the U.S. I deal with it mainly by NOT driving. Yup, I'm one of the few pedestrians in Los Angeles. Please try not to run me down when I'm crossing the street.

But on occasions where I DO have to drive, I've found that not only does L.A. have the worst traffic in the nation, but many of the worst drivers. It's time for a little refresher course in basic traffic rules:

1. Four-way Stop signs.

This is the basic rule of the 4-way stop: you pull up to the stop sign at the intersection, take note of whomever is there before you, allow each to take his/her turn and then you take yours. If you get to the stop sign at the same time as another car, you yield to the car on your right.

That's it.

There are no exceptions like, if you're making a right turn you don't have to wait. Or that entitles you to "create" a right turn lane and you go whenever you damn well please. Nope, you need to wait your turn.

Also, if you are going straight and the car opposite you, whose turn it is, is also going straight, you can jump the line and go at the same time. Nope, you need to wait your turn.

Or, if you're talking on your cell phone and can't be bothered to figure out whose turn it is, you can blithely plow right through. Nope--still have to wait your turn.

Or if you've waited behind other cars and then another car comes up perpendicular to you and they haven't waited at all, you can go through the intersection before them. Bzzzt!!!! Wrong. Wait time doesn't count until you come to the stop sign. It doesn't matter that you had to wiat behind three cars to get to the intersection while the other car just cruised up from another direction. They got to the sign first--wait your turn.

2. Blocking the intersection.

I don't care if the light is green, traffic laws state that you cannot enter an intersection unless you can fully clear it. Gunning your engine on a light turning yellow only to be smack in the middle of the intersection blocking oncoming traffic is rude, thoughtless, inconsiderate, stupid, selfish, ignorant--wait a minute, I need to check a thesaurus for more negative adjectives...

3. Right on red.

OK folks, right on red is a privilege--not your God-given right. It is intended to take advantage of gaps (that's GAPS) in traffic. Do not assert right on red during rush hour--unless there is a considerable aforementioned GAP. Cars who are not blocking the intersection because they obeying traffic laws are NOT creating a gap in traffic for you to wedge your BMW into because you can't be bothered to wait for your green light. This is not your green light--wait your turn!

4. Riding the shoulder, parking lane, etc.

I love those assholes who think they are too important to sit in traffic. They weave in and out of the parking lane, cutting you off because you're too much of a schmuck to pull that shit. Or they zoom down the shoulder and cut into the line at the last minute possible. Assholes. I usually ride half over the line myself when I see someone pulling this. That way they have the choice of trying to squeeze in behind me or their fancy paint job. If you've ever seen my car you know I ain't too worried about MY paint job...

5. Honkers.

I'm not talking about someone who uses their horn to alert an asshole that they've just made a bone-headed move, I'm talking about the idiots who get fed up of sitting in traffic and start honking. Like that's going to get things moving. Yeah, the rest of us have just been sitting here in a daze inching along at 5 mph. Just waiting for YOU impatient ass to wake us from our reverie. What the fuck?!!!

I will say this for L.A.--I moved here from the D.C. area (3rd worst traffic) and one of the first things I noticed is that the overwhelming majority of L.A. drivers actually pull to the right and stop for emergency vehicles. In D.C., most drivers use this as a way to get further along in their commute therefore preventing the poor suckers who DID pull over from getting back into the line of traffic. So for that Los Angeles, I salute you.

For all your other traffic misdeeds--well, it's a salute of a very different kind...

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