5 Tips to be a Better Driver in Los Angeles
Los Angeles: The Modern Concrete Safari
Everyone knows what it’s like to drive in Los Angeles. Between bumper to bumper traffic, blazing heat, and people on their cell phones, Los Angeles is often thought of as a modern, concrete safari that has to be strategically navigated through, street by street, and one traffic light at a time. Everyone also knows what it’s like to be next to or behind someone who clearly hasn’t learned driving etiquette.
All it takes is one bad driver during your commute to make it seem even worse than it already is. At Lee’s, we don’t want you to be that bad driver! Here are our tips to be a better driver, so that way you can be mindful of someone else’s commute and, more importantly, you can be safe on the road.
#1. Use Your Turn Signal
Vehicles were designed with turn signals for a reason. They signal the direction you’re turning or the lane you’re switching over to. Why is that so important? When switching lanes, it’s the difference between an accident being caused or being avoided (especially on the freeway). There’s nothing more aggravating than being behind someone who is slowing down but not indicating that they’re turning onto the upcoming side street.
Because drivers are not mind readers, it makes it difficult to assume what the driver ahead’s intentions are. In some cases, slowing down is an indication of looking at address numbers on homes and buildings, being lost, or something ahead that is causing you to slow down (like an object in the middle of the street). Remember using the turn signal to indicate that you’re turning saves a lot of frustration for the drivers behind you.
#2. Don’t Use Your Cell Phone
The National Safety Council 2014 annual injury and fatality report in their “Injury Facts,” found that the use of cell phones causes 26% of the nation’s car accidents. The 2014 edition of the report compares data from 2013 and earlier. The report details safety statistics and trends across the United States. It even states that, “an estimated 5% of crashes involve texting, while 21% involve drivers talking on handheld or hands-free cell phones.” It’s not exactly a shocking statistic, considering how easily a cell phone can distract a driver from paying attention to what’s happening around them.
#3. Be Kind and Let People In
Going back to #1, often times drivers don’t use their turn signals when changing lanes because they are too worried that signaling will force drivers to speed up and not let them in. This is a regular occurrence on highways and in the streets. We’ve become so conditioned as LA drivers to be aggressive during our commute, that we often don’t let people merge. It causes more traffic and lanes get even more backed up because the driver is trying to move over and nobody will let them. Smile, be nice, and just let other nice drivers merge. Letting a car in here and there doesn’t add that much time to your commute and it’s a good gesture towards your fellow commuters that are desperately trying to get to their destination as much as you are.
#4. The Left Turn
The dreaded left turn is a tricky one. Often times cars turning in the left lane can be stuck for as many as three or four lights, just trying to turn left onto the street they’ve been waiting in line for. But there’re two sides to this equation. For the cars making the left turn, remember that two to three cars can go once the light has moved from yellow to red. It’s infuriating when the car in front of you doesn’t turn when the light has moved from yellow to red and you’re still stuck at the light. It’s an unspoken rule for the other lanes at the intersection to let traffic make the left turn before moving. So keep in mind that up to three vehicles (depending on the size) can make the left turn once the light is back to red.
The other side of this equation is oncoming traffic. If you’re driving forward and you see that your light has turned yellow, don’t try to beat the red light. Not only does this have the potential to cause an accident, as well as the possibility of getting a red light ticket, it doesn’t give the cars making a left turn a chance to do so rapidly, when the drivers think you’re still driving straight through the intersection instead of slowing down and coming to a complete stop for the drivers in the left lane.
#5. Mind the Pedestrians, Bicyclists, Motorcyclists
Cars are not the only moving objects on the road that you should be paying attention to. Pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists are everywhere and you should take them into consideration while being on the road. Pedestrians are important to pay attention to (in general) but particularly at intersections and street crossings. Why? Often because pedestrians feel pressure to quickly cross the street, even if the pedestrian has the right of way.
We’ve all scurried across the street to catch the light or picked up the pace for the cars that are waiting. But then there’s the driver who decides to stay halfway in the crosswalk because they didn’t make the light in time, forcing pedestrians to squeeze around the car just to cross. Be mindful of the space that’s been given to pedestrians. The same goes for spilling into the crosswalk to make a right turn. In general, pay attention to the pedestrians using the crosswalk before cruising into it.
There are bicycle lanes for a reason. They are given to bicyclists so they can comfortably ride their bikes around the city. Don’t invade their space, and make sure to give them room to ride. The roads are not just for vehicles but for all of us to navigate together. On the streets that don’t have bicycle lanes, it’s both saves a life and a ticket to keep bicyclists in mind when you see them. Legally, bicyclists are allowed the full use of the right lane. Besides sharing the road with other commuters, you can be ticketed for showing any aggression towards cyclists navigating the roads. And worst case scenario, you can end up killing someone just by trying to rush around a bicyclist.
Motorcyclists and scooter’s can legally “lane split” or “lane share.” If you see one coming from behind, open your lane up a little bit to give them space. The general rule that motorcyclists follow from the California Motorcyclist Safety Program, “if you can’t fit, don’t split.” The state of California allows lane splitting. Due to the great weather in Los Angeles, sunshine means more people commuting on two wheeled vehicles, and lane splitting leads to less congestion on the streets and on the highway. Keep an eye out for these smaller vehicles!
These 5 Good Driving Tips Should Help
That concrete safari is a wild one! Keep these 5 driving tips in mind the next time you’re on the road. We want you and everyone else on the road to be safe. And safety starts from paying attention to your surroundings, using your turn signals, not using your cell phone, and being nice to other drivers. As always, have a safe journey!
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