Welcome to Southern California, land of sun, surf… and some terrible drivers.
Navigating the freeways of Southern Cali can be a bit much, especially if this will be your first time tackling such a feat. Constantly congested and always overwhelmed with traffic, Southern California’s roadways can intimidate even the most experienced of California car rental customer.
Before you hop in your vehicle and hit the road during your upcoming vacation, take some time to brush up on your local driving knowledge. The following are a few tips from the commuters here at SuperCheap that might help you better handle the task of driving in Southern California.
1. Public Transportation Won’t Help
Unlike New York or Boston, where you can take a subway to practically anywhere, the city’s of Southern California are much more spread out and difficult to access. The public transportation system is very limited, making it practically impossible to get from point A to point B without a California car rental.
2. Get Ready for Congestion
What separates the freeways of Southern California from other major American cities is the sheer number of vehicles on the road. This constant congestion can really grate on your nerve, causing many local California car rental drivers to become impatient, restless, and downright dangerous behind the wheel. Aggressive and uncooperative driving is the norm here, so get ready for the honking and obscene gestures.
3. There is ALWAYS Traffic
While you won’t always be stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, you will always find yourself surrounded by cars. Even at midnight on a Sunday. So do yourself a favor and always remember to check your blind spot. With so many vehicles around, even the smallest mistake can result in a chain reaction accident.
4. Timing is Everything
If you need to hop on one of Southern California’s busiest freeways, try to do so during an off-peak hour. While San Diego traffic should be avoided during regular rush hours, LA traffic should be avoided… well, whenever possible. The worst hours to be on the road in LA are between 4 am and 8 pm. If you have to be on the road during these times, always be prepared for stop-and-go traffic. Leave yourself plenty of time to get where you need to be, and don’t forget to gas up your California car rental before you start out. An extra insider tip: if you’re going to drive on the 101 in Santa Barbara and Venture Counties, do your best to avoid them on Fridays and Sundays. Unlike the state’s other 7-lane behemoth freeways of Los Angeles, this one has just 2 lanes, which can make for some pretty harried traffic.
5. Choose Your Lane Carefully
Speaking of lanes, pay attention to which one you choose to drive in. Navigating six or eight lanes on a freeway is no easy task, especially when there is a high volume of traffic. What’s more, there are a surprising number of exit-only lanes on California freeways, which can make it even more confusing for California car rental tourists. When in doubt, try to avoid sitting in the far right lane.
6. Unexpected Stops Should be Expected
It’s not uncommon to go from 80 mph to a dead stop in 3 seconds on an LA freeway. It’s a terrifying experience, but one that should be expected and prepared for. Avoid tailgating other drivers in order to provide yourself with plenty of room for sudden brakes.
7. Make Way for Motorcycles
There’s a law in California that permits motorcyclists, some of the most vulnerable travelers on the road, to drive between lanes. And they do – all the time, at 90 mph. You can imagine how dangerous this is. When you’re changing lanes or sitting in stopped traffic, please remember to check around your California car rental before trying to maneuver to another lane. You never know when one of these daredevils will fly up in the four-foot space between you and the car beside you.
8. Potholes are a Bit of a Problem
All those bumps and jolts in your California car rental? Ya, they have nothing to do with your California car rental vehicle’s suspension… that’s just how beat up LA’s roads are. It makes for a bumpy and uncomfortable ride, but sadly, there’s not a whole lot you can do about it. Just drive with control and confidence and hold on.
Driving in Southern California is an experience quite unlike any other. With that being said, you can still arrive safely at your final destination if you keep your wits about you and remember to abide by the rules of the road. And please, don’t gawk at an accident if you see one. When traffic stops for an accident, 9 times out of 10 another accident occurs because drivers are too distracted by their surroundings to pay attention to their driving.