How to Drive in Los Angeles, Part 3: In 2D

Yup, that's a Starman reference.
Red: stop. Green: go. Yellow: go very fast.

Have you ever sat in the left turn lane, waiting for traffic to clear, wondering why sometimes you get a green turn arrow, and sometimes you don’t?  Well, get ready to have your mind blown.

I think I've used this picture before, but you know what?  I don't care.
The collective mind of the APA readership.

The secret is to not look up at the light, but rather down at the street.  Ever noticed those little black lines in the road?  Those are called “inductive loops.”

Hey, I haven't used any photos all week.  Gimme a break.
Hey, look at that, a picture that's actually related to today's post!

I could explain how this stuff works, but that’s not really why you read this blog, is it?  The point is, putting your car over these little circles indicates to the traffic signal that a car is there.

This can have multiple effects, depending on the situation.  Some traffic lights don’t change at all, unless there’s a car present.  If you’re one of those people who stops way back from the crosswalk (or who stops way into it), the light will never change for you.

For turn signals, these loops determine whether, and how long, there will be a green arrow, or simply a green light.

Turn lanes in busy intersections often have two or three circles.  The next time you pull up to an intersection where a car is already waiting, don’t stop directly behind him; stop a few car lengths back on the second loop.

Enjoy the green lights!

(PS: Today’s post is sponsored by my wife, who figured this whole thing out one day when someone pulled up short behind her one day.)

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5 Responses

  1. And if you drive a scooter you are screwed because there’s not enough metal to trigger the sensor. You have to either wait through 3 cycles and then go when it’s clear (the law as I understand it) or pull into the crosswalk and get the car behind you to pull over the circle.

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