Photo Friday: Driving in LA

Driving in Los Angeles, CA
Driving in Los Angeles, CA

In a city that is obsessed with cars and ruled by a tangle of freeways, it's no surprise that driving holds its own drama. Each time we return to Los Angeles, I feel a special energy as I step into the car. Driving here is simultaneously invigorating and exhausting.

The local culture has built up a whole language around driving its own traffic rules. Everyone knows about California stops (they're just for show), but there is also the "LA Four Car Rule" (when I lived here it was the three car rule) which designates how many people can turn left after the traffic signal has turned red. Each car on the freeway is a player in an unfolding drama with cars trying to edge each other out in the race to get home before traffic hits. You must drive fast, leave as little space in front of you as possible, and never-ever signal your intention to change lanes (doing so tells the cars behind you to speed up and get in front of you before you move in).

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  1. amida on October 23, 2009 at 12:40 a.m.

    L.A. driving is definitely crazy. My aunt once stopped in the middle of the freeway and refused to move until someone let her change lanes. It was a long (scary) wait.

  2. Victoria on October 23, 2009 at 2:30 a.m.

    Driving in LA looks terrifying! When we start our RTW trip in LA next year, I'm not intending to hire a car. We'll get an airport transfer to our hotel next to Disneyland and take tours if we want to visit somewhere else. Having visited LA before without a car I realize that it's not a city to be without a car, but we did manage to get around with the paltry public transport!

  3. maria on October 23, 2009 at 3:41 a.m.

    It sounds like it takes a lot of skill to drive in LA, not for new drivers! Then again, I drive in Italy where people make their own rules as they go along...

  4. Shannon OD on October 23, 2009 at 5:41 a.m.

    I love it! It is so true that you just can't use your turn signals! That just screams newbie :-) Gives the other drivers a reason to speed up and completely ignore your presence!

  5. Heathrow airport parking on October 23, 2009 at 6:25 a.m.

    If you want a real buzz just take the M25 or M4 to London Heathrow. There are thousand of cars pouring into the airport 24/7 and most of them have no idea where they going.

  6. Amy @ The Q Family on October 23, 2009 at 7 a.m.

    Sound just like Bangkok traffic but we have added drama with motorcycles and tuk-tuks. :)

  7. Catherine on October 23, 2009 at 9:38 a.m.

    Driving in LA in the rain - even a sprinkle - is worse than driving in a Canadian blizzard. Angelinos just can't handle it.

  8. Sarah V. on October 23, 2009 at 11:55 a.m.

    I'm the person that's driving 10 under on the highway, signaling, and glancing over my shoulder to check the, LA driving sounds terrifying to me!

  9. Sharlene Earnshaw on October 23, 2009 at 2:04 p.m.

    Never signal before merging. If you do, you could end up never getting over. And just because its 11PM, doesn't mean there won't be traffic...

  10. Lorraine on October 24, 2009 at 10:14 p.m.

    Spent my early years in LA, middle years in San Diego, and current years in the Bay Area. I must be addicted to traffic! And I still get nervous on the freeways!

  11. RennyBA's Terella on October 25, 2009 at 4:59 a.m.

    Sounds stressful to me and I actually prefer public transportation, but then again: I'm a Norwegian :-)

  12. Dominique on October 25, 2009 at 4:32 p.m.

    Living near Detroit, we're definitely in car and driving territory. Public transit is pretty much non-existent here.
    Even so, as crazy as Detroit drivers can be, it seems easier to navigate around here than some larger cities we've driven around.
    Then again, we have oddities like the Michigan left. :)

  13. Debbie on October 27, 2009 at 10:32 p.m.

    It's funny, when I moved up to Washington (where it seems nobody is in a rush, and everybody drives as if they've NEVER seen rain before) the traffic here really stressed me out - I suppose it's all in what you are used to!