As someone who lives in the greater Los Angeles area, I spend a lot of time driving. Even though we have clogged freeways and bad traffic, the worst thing about spending a lot of time on the road is the other drivers. In Los Angeles (and I presume many other places in the world) drivers engage in behavior that goes from rude and inconsiderate to outright dangerous. Following are just some of the activities these bad drivers engage in that drive me crazy.
Blinkers or turn signals – Whatever you call them, why don’t drivers use them? Changing lanes, turning into another street, turning off the street into a driveway or parking lot or evening pulling into a parking spot are all reasons to use turn signals. The purpose, in case you were wondering, is so that other drivers can understand what you are doing, and react accordingly, whether that be giving you space, slowing down. or getting out of your way. Yet every time I am on the road, I see drivers who just don’t bother with turn signals. Please, next time you’re behind the wheel, figure out how to use the turn signals, then use them.
Right Turns on a Red Light – I live in California, and I know that rules are different in different part of the world, but in California, and I think in all the United States, it is legal to make a right hand turn on a red light. After stopping at the intersection, you look to the left for oncoming traffic, and when the coast is clear, you make a turn. Not very complicated but time and again I have waited behind some fool, while there is no oncoming traffic, until the light turns green, before the fools turns. If you don’t know right turns are legal on a red light, please go back to driving school.
Left Turns on a Green Light – When making a left turn when there is oncoming traffic you are allowed to move halfway into the intersection, then turn left when there is no oncoming traffic. Time and again I have waited behind some driver who is making a left turn but does not move into the intersection. Instead that person waits at the stop line until the coast is clear or worse, until the signal changes to amber. Then the person makes the turn. Meanwhile the cars waiting behind can’t turn and have to wait until the next signal. In larger intersections this can make the difference between one car getting through on a signal, or four cars getting through on a signal. If you are making a left turn, get your car into the middle of the intersection so that other drivers behind you can also make the signal.
More on Turns – When making a right or left turn, the driver must decide which lane to turn into. Sometimes there is no choice. If you are turning into a one lane road, you must pick that lane. But I live in the Los Angeles area. We have many roads that are three lanes wide, and some that are even four lanes wide. If I am turning right and I turn into the closest lane, it leaves the other lanes available for someone turning left. Alternatively, if I am turning left and I turn into the closest lane it leaves the other lanes available for someone turning right. Yet time again I see someone making a left turn into a four-lane road and that person swings all the way into the far lane blocking people trying to make right turns. Next time you make a turn, left or right, turn into the closest lane to you leaving the other lanes open for other drivers.
Thunder Road – I attended an Airbnb meeting in Long Beach when the city was implementing new licensing requirements for Airbnb operators. At the dais sat one of the Long Council Members. She made some statement that the city needed to license and manage Airbnb operates to ensure that the Airbnb guests didn’t make a lot of noise and disturb the neighborhood. At question time I asked a question. I told her that I’d never been disturbed by anyone’s Airbnb guests but a huge motorcycle with thundering exhausts drove through my neighborhood once week and set off all of the car alarms. Why didn’t she do something about that? Her response was something to the effect that “there are laws against doing that.” Yes, there probably are, but no one in the City of Long Beach is enforcing them. My point is that you may think your thundering tails pipes sound cool, or make you hip, or who knows what weird thoughts you might be thinking but all of us who must listen to that racket think you are rude and obnoxious. If you’re one of those folks, put your vehicle on a trailer and go out to the middle of the desert and then you can make all of the noise you want, but don’t drive your obnoxious vehicle on city streets.
Slip Streamers – This term refers to racing where a race car follows in closely behind a car in front waiting for an opportunity to pass. However, regular drivers have adopted this technique and its not only annoying, but its dangerous. It typically happens when you are merging onto a freeway. You have a slow vehicle in front of you. Maybe a truck, bus, or bad driver. You cannot pull over to pass because you are in the entry lane and there is a solid line. Up ahead the line becomes dotted, and you can then pull into one of the freeway lanes and pass. Just as you are getting ready to change lanes, and even though you have your blinker going, the person behind quickly changes lanes (often crossing the solid white line) and guns his accelerator so that you can’t change lanes. This can also happen in regular freeway traffic where again you have your blinker going, you plan to change lanes as soon as its clear, and the jerk behind changes and quickly accelerates blocking you from changing lanes. The rule is simple. If the car in front of you has its turn signal on, let that car change lanes first and if you also change lanes, don’t speed up blocking the driver in front of you from changing lanes.
Tinted Windows – I just don’t get tinted window and by that I mean those windows that are so tinted you can’t see the driver. Who are you? A member of organized crime or an instantly recognizable personality? For most people there is no good reason to have tinted windows but there are plenty of good reasons not have tinted windows. Where I live, we have numerous four way stops and roundabouts. Part of figuring out who goes next and to make sure everyone is on the same page, is looking at the other driver. At a four way stop we know that the person who arrives first has the right of way. That person gets to go first. But what if two cars arrive at about the same time? A glance at the other driver will give you an idea of that driver’s intentions. Has the driver seen you? Does the driver look as if he or she is going to go? Or did the drive give you a quick wave, telling you to go? None of those interactions are possible if the cars have tinted windows. Mr. Mafia, untint your windows.
Fast Lane – Generally speaking, in the United States, the left lane is considered the fast lane. On a five-lane freeway maybe it doesn’t make much difference, but the US is crisscrossed by hundreds, if not thousands, of two-lane highways (two lanes in each direct). The rule of thumb is that you travel in the right lane, then you change lanes to the left lane to overtake slower traffic, then you move back into the right lane. Here in California, those two-lane highways are loaded with people who drive only in the left lane, and very often they block traffic. Further, then can cause safety issues because to get by them, cars coming up from behind must swerve back and forth between lanes to pass. Well, what if you are going the speed limit? Doesn’t that give you the right to stay in the left lane? No, it doesn’t. Travel in the right lane and move the left only when passing someone else. Besides, there may be someone who wants to travel faster than you. Well, that is illegal you say. So what? Speed limits are arbitrary on freeways. The maximum speed limit in Utah is 80. Most California highways are posted at 65 miles per hour. I traveled both and there are no differences in the freeways in the two states. The simple rule is – stay in the right lane and stay out of the way of other drivers.
Parking Lot Waiters – Ever pull into one of those four or five story parking garages? Of course, the lower levels are full but as you go up in the structure, the spaces open up. The person in front of you however spots someone heading to his or her car, and decides to wait for that person, blocking all the people behind from getting up to those upper-level floors. The same thing happens in surface level parking lots. The lot could be half full with lots of parking only 50 feet away, but some waiter will wait for someone pulling out close to the store entrance, just so that person doesn’t have to walk so far, meanwhile blocking the way of other drivers looking for parking. If you are trying to find parking, look for those spots on the upper levels or a little further away from the storefront – chances are the few extra steps you take will be good for your health, and this way you won’t be blocking everyone else.
You may have some other bad driver behaviors that should be added to my list. If you do, send them to me and I will add them in.