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How to Drive in Los Angeles 2: Drive Los Angeleser

Rule 34 in full effect.
I googled "turn on red" to find an image for today's post. This is the twelfth image in the entire Internet to show up. I really hope this guys's Flickr traffic gets a sudden and surprising uptick today.

I don’t know what it’s like in whatever third-world, former-communist, dictatorial kleptocracy you’re from, but here in California, you can turn right on a red light.  This isn’t news, either; it’s been the law since before I was born.

Los Angeles suffers more traffic delays than any other city in America (duh).  Part of the reason is drivers stopping when they shouldn’t.  Another reason is people not going when they should.

Now, I’m not saying you should run down pedestrians or peel around the corner without looking.  (In fact, legally, you’re supposed to wait for a pedestrian who’s on the far side of a five-lane road; I learned this while picketing during the WGA strike.)

I’m just saying, if the road is clear, for the love of Christ, go.

Conversely, if you’re not planning on turning right at this intersection, don’t get in the right-hand lane. Some people have this Batman villain-like obsession with sticking to the right lane, in all circumstances, even if there’s no one in the left lane.

I always wind up stuck behind these people, drumming my fingers on the steering wheel, staring at the red light, willing it to change, but it won’t change, so I flip from 98.7 playing a late 90’s Foo Fighters song to KROQ playing an early 90’s Foo Fighters song, and my mom’s voice comes in my head, telling me, “A watched pot never boils,” and she’s right, this light will never, ever, ever change, and I’ll be stuck behind this moron forever, even though he could have moved to the next lane and oh, God, why won’t this light change?

In short, please use the left hand lane if you don’t intend to turn.

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11 Responses

  1. I recently moved to LA myself. My question on this whole left turn is why aren’t there more left turn arrows? I can’t figure it out. If an intersection is busy enough to need a left turn lane, then it is busy enough to need a left turn arrow. I really think some of the gridlock in LA is just stoplight design.

  2. i recently moved to los angeles from san francisco, and i completely agree about learning the finesse of turning left in the absence of a dedicated left-turn lane.

    but cutting it as close as possible just perpetuates the never-ending cycle of bad behavior in intersections that pisses all of us off. that “drivers going when they shouldn’t” aspect, that frustrates everyone else who wants to go straight ahead but can’t, because you still have to wait for that one sneaky bastard turning left after his arrow’s gone red. is waiting your turn for the next cycle really so bad? it seems like the right thing to do, “the most good for the greatest number of people”

    TAPA, perhaps the 4th in your series of LA Driving can be about how NONE of the frigging lights are synced up!! doesn’t matter if you’re in burbank or hollywood or venice, the city is an equal opportunity thwarter of our plans to arrive at our destinations in a timely fashion. when you’re going down a long, straight street and you can see all the lights ahead of you turning red, just as your own turns green, that is demoralizing, to the point of spiraling into clinical depression.

  3. I definitely agree with c above. Left turns on yellow/red are absolutely necessary if you plan to get anywhere. There are very few left turn arrows here.

  4. So I’m at the light at moorpark and coldwater.

    there is someone in front of me.

    the light is taking forever.

    finally it turns green.

    the car in front of me doesn’t move.

    I wait…

    and wait…

    and wait…

    finally, I can’t take it anymore and I toot the horn.

    the guy gets out of the car screaming at me!

    Him: what the F are you beeping me for?

    Me: The. Light. Is. Green.

    He stops dead in his tracks and runs back to his car, just in time to get through and leave me stranded at the red.

    Grrrrrrrrrrrrr…….

  5. Let me tell you about the third world former(not)-communist dictatorial Kleptocarcy country I come from: Venezuela. (yes, you had it coming).

    Here we have our own driving techniques some of which would amuse Schumacher. In Caracas, we have to GO on red to keep ourselves from being mugged and killed for a blackberry, and we have to STOP on green to keep us from being run over by those who are keeping themselves from being mugged and killed. Also carpool lane is just another lane, and I would have to check those statistics about Los Angeles being the city with most delay… we have pretty heavy traffic in here.

    Speaking of Venezuela and our amusing government, I’ll would like to post an open letter to Danny Glover, but since this is not my blog, nor do I own a blog, Im just gonna say ‘I hope you suffer for one day what this country has been suffering for the last 10 years, Motherfucker’

    Sorry for that.

    Sincerlely,
    Your Faithful Venezuela Reader

  6. Love me some left turn on red, a fine LA art that you must learn or never be able to turn left.

  7. The third-world, former-communist, dictatorial kleptocracy I moved to LA from in the 80s was Massachusetts. You weren’t allowed to make a right turn on red there at the time, and cop-fueled hilarity ensued when I went back and forth between LA and Boston. My general observation about LA driving is that, besides being really polite, LA drivers seem really, really, really stoned. I have never had to lay so much horn on asshats who wouldn’t turn right on red, go straight on green or otherwise move it as I have there.

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