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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Californians are FAST Drivers

I decided to write some more about my observations of living here in California as compared to my former life in Boston. I haven't done much of this recently, and there are still rambling thoughts about how different it really is, even after being here 2 years.

Californians are FAST drivers. You can't deny it. I noticed it right away when I got here and it is still obvious to me. Now don't get me wrong - I drive pretty fast myself, having spent time in the Midwest (Michigan) where all the roads are straight (not completely, of course) and Boston. The problem in Boston is that the roads are all small and curvy, and traffic gridlock prevents you from driving as fast as you want. So frustrated Bostonians make up for that by being some of the rudest and most aggressive drivers around (I can tell you that Europeans are actually worse).

If you have driven in New England you know these things about Boston drivers:
  • They ignore stop signs and street lights
  • They cut in and out without ever using their signals - why bother?
  • Tailgating is a sport, no matter what your speed
  • Rotaries are the most fun of all - the first to get around the fastest wins, and who cares about the lanes
  • Pedestrians take their lives in their hands then they cross the road, which they do wherever and whenever they want, plus they ignore the “walk” and “don’t walk” signs anyhow
  • Horns and middle fingers are the favorite form of expression, no matter what the situation, and even more vigorously if the driver is at fault
  • They don’t stop or slow down to let folks pull in from a side road or parking lot
  • They zoom up the side of the road or on the far side of a waiting line of traffic in order to cut in up front since they don’t want to wait in the line
  • Left and right turns are made from the wrong lane, and u-turns in the middle of the road holding up traffic or illegally are expected
  • They pull out into traffic and move across two lanes to get where they want, no matter how it inconveniences everyone else or holds up traffic
  • And so on. You get the idea

I don't "commute" because of my real estate business, but I am on the freeway a good bit, especially to and from LA fairly regularly, and I can attest to the fact that CA drivers are fast...other than the slowdowns for accidents, highway chases (what's the deal with that??) and huge volumes of traffic at rush hour. People are driving 80 in the slow lane...well, there really isn't a slow lane, since there are so many of them and folks just drive wherever they want and can. But fast drivers are also on the secondary roads. And it's not just young drivers or those with sports cars, but a good percentage of drivers in general (I saw a guy the other day who had to be in his 70s or 80s and he was faster than the best of them)...and on all the roads. And the SUVs are some of the fastest (which, BTW, there are a lot of here - everyone seems to drive a big car or SUV, or a high-end import).

But I like the roads here overall. It's easier to drive fast. And I keep up as best I can.

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