In my last post, I wrote that my husband, Dan, and I had recently visited Los Angeles and that, during our brief stay in the City of Angels, we were unfortunately reminded of the annoyances and, in some cases, dangers of driving there. Specifically, I offered four reasons why driving in Los Angeles can be rather harrowing – such as its intense traffic, aggressive drivers, distracted motorists, and crisscrossing freeway ramps. Here, as promised, are five more warnings about driving in Los Angeles:One issue that has boggled my mind in a city as well populated and as car-dependent as Los Angeles is the appalling lack of left-turn arrows at major intersections.Motorcycles between lanes: In an environmentally conscious state like California, it probably comes as no surprise that motorcyclists benefit from more flexible driving laws. For instance, while cars and trucks in car-pool lanes (also known as “high occupancy vehicle” lanes) typically must, during the posted hours, contain a minimum of two or three people – and sorry, pets, unborn infants, ghosts, mannequins, and inflatable dolls don’t count – motorcyclists are free to use such lanes at any time. In addition, lane splitting – that is, two side-by-side motorcycles occupying the same lane at the same time – is a common, legal practice, but in an unnerving twist, motorcyclists are also allowed to drive between lanes. This means that while you’re crawling through a traffic jam, waiting for a stoplight to turn green, or driving on the highway, a motorcyclist could suddenly appear along the side of your vehicle, riding between cars. I must admit that, no matter how many times this has happened, it still startles me – and often makes me wonder… what if the motorcycle were in our blind spot and we’d decided to switch lanes? What a horrible accident that could turn out to be!
Narrow streets: While this issue is certainly not limited to Los Angeles, I’ve often found that the City of Angels has its fair share of narrow, much-used thoroughfares. In particular, it can be downright disconcerting to drive on Los Feliz Boulevard and the Pasadena Freeway, both of which are well-traveled, exceedingly narrow routes, which means that vehicles in adjacent lanes can get uncomfortably close at times.
Left-turn arrows: One issue that has boggled my mind in a city as well populated and as car-dependent as Los Angeles is the appalling lack of left-turn arrows at major intersections. Without them, you’re often forced to risk bodily injury and severe property damage – just to make a legal left-hand turn – a scary prospect, particularly in light of the fact that L.A. motorists rarely miss the chance to run through a yellow light or, worse, a red.
Rainy days: Fortunately, the stereotype about L.A. weather is often accurate. It is usually warm and sunny in Los Angeles – a fact that outdoor enthusiasts like me particularly appreciate. Unfortunately, being accustomed to such mild weather means that many L.A. motorists are unprepared for driving in the rain. Whether it’s a light drizzle or a torrential downpour, the rain seems to bring out the worst in L.A. drivers, and over the years, it’s been customary to witness several accidents in a single night. It’s particularly dangerous during a drizzle, which can make the oil-covered roads a bit slicker than usual. During our recent visit, in fact, Dan and I noticed a single-car accident on a rainy night; luckily, though, the car had spun out of control in front of a hospital, so the injured driver didn’t have far to travel for treatment.
Sunshine: Now, don’t get me wrong – Los Angeles is certainly not the only place known for its intense sunshine, but nevertheless, I’ve often found myself more blinded by the sun while driving (or riding) in L.A. than in any other U.S. city. Perhaps that’s because so many of L.A.’s major highways and roads – such as the 10, the 101, Sunset Boulevard, and Wilshire Boulevard – are east-west thoroughfares, which means that you’re a lot more likely to find yourself driving directly into a dazzling sunrise or sunset. Even with sunglasses and a car visor, it can be difficult – if not downright perilous – to drive while blinded by the sun, so try to avoid doing so whenever possible.
The harshest truth is that Los Angeles, a veritable melting pot, is filled with people who have come from other parts of the country – if not the world – meaning that many of them have learned to embrace the city’s unique brand of driving, something they probably find hard to shake when visiting other places.
So, have you ever driven in Los Angeles? If so, do you have any warnings of your own to share?