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Old 03-06-2017, 11:56 PM
Location: orange, ca
26 posts, read 33,366 times
Reputation: 51


Not sure if this is a sole California phenomenon. I've driven in Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri etc. People overtook me doing 85+ mph en masse & using their it was at best 50/50 chance they used their turn signals. Minnesota did have some slow drivers, many were driving under the speed limit around the Minneapolis area.
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Old 12-12-2017, 07:32 PM
Location: MO->MI->CA->TX->MA
7,032 posts, read 14,514,803 times
Reputation: 5581
Originally Posted by gildossantos View Post
Last year, my girlfriend, my best friend and I spent 3 weeks in California for vacation, touring the state. We're coming from France and are, respectively, 35, 33 and 34. We drove from San Francisco to Lassen Volcanic Park in the north part of California, then to Lake Tahoe, Monolake, Yosemite, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and then back to San Fransisco.

During our trip, we drove in absolutly all kinds of roads : 10-lane congested urban freeways in LA and SF metro areas, desert rural roads, meandering forest roads, urban one way streets, avenues and boulevards, 2-lane highways, 3-lane (one is the passing one) roads, 2x2 roads with or without dividers, during the day, the night, etc.

Viewed from Europe and especially from France, there is the persistent myth that american, and especially californian, drivers are cool, relax, corteous, doing the speed limits : well they are actually good drivers compared with the French drivers who I've used to consider so far as perfect dangerous jerks compared with the american ones. There's also another myth : cops and highway patrol cars are everywhere checking for your speed, your behaviour. Third myth : road casualties are much lower in the US than in Europe regarding the same comparison basis. I guess those myths date back to the "CHips" series time!!! Well the conclusion of my 3-week California tour is : this time is over!

I would like to give my opinion on the topic, based on my californian driving experience : well to sum it up i'd say that all those myths are totally FALSE, it's complete RIP-OFF!!! Reality is far from the myths and not in a good way, we noticed.

Here are the widespread road behaviors we noticed on the California roads :

1-speeding : it's a sports practiced by 100% of californian drivers ; the speed limits? pff forget about them!! speed limits are mere indications NOBODY respects and neither enforced at all. Oh yes, we tried to respect them the first week but, let's be realistic : nobody does them, everybody tries to drive as fast as possible, even if the road or weather conditions are bad and If one dares doing the speed limits heis automatically endangered by the other drivers, threatened even by the others who honk, tailgate and show you their finger. At a time my girlfriend told me "speed up or one of them is going to take his rifle and shoot us" (yes, you're true, another myth : each citizen in the US carries a rifle with him).
The worst experiences :
*Pasadena freeway in LA, an urban freeway with dangerous sharp bends and stop signs on the on-ramps : you enter the freeway at a low speed and everybody on the freeway is speeding at 75 instead of 55, waving, cutting off, etc. Well honestly, due to the sharp bends and the lack of acceleration lanes, we didn't find that the 55 speed limit was too low!!
*I15 between los angeles and las vegas : it seemed that people where crazy on their way to Las Vegas : speeding, tailgating, honking, cutting off, using the shoulder as a lane on traffic jams, this was a festival of nonsense driving

2. Red light running : in San Fransisco and LA, it seems to be a widespread habit to run red lights even 5 seconds after the light has turned from yellow to red. If you're a pedestrian you got to be very carefull if don't want to die.

3. tailgaiting : well if you do the speed limit like us, it is unavoidable to have cars only a few feet of your bumper. Furthermore, everyboy will show you how wrong you are to respect the law by honking, threatening you, making road rage gestures.

4. cutting in front of your car : widespread behaviour on the freeways, despite the rear mirrors, a great number of california drivers behave as if they were alone on the freeway. We were forced to hit the brakes several times not to be hit by these guies.

5. turn signal and changing of lanes : the turn signal??? What for??? I'd say that less than 10% of the drivers use it when changing lanes. Well it was no rare to see drivers changing 4 lanes in one time to exit a freeway, almost causing crashes.

6. keeping a safe distance between cars : again, what for? The philosophy in california roads seems to be the following : the least space you let between your car and the car in front of you, the better it is for everybody. Even worse, when you're trying to let a reasonable distance between you and the car in front of you (you know, in the very very very unlikely case there is a sudden brake in front and so that you will not end in a giant pile-up), there will always be someone cutting in front of you, passing you to feed this seucrit distance!

7. (no) enforcement : complete lax! what are the highway patrol officers doing? spending their work time sleeping on their cars ??? The relevant question is : is there really a highway patrol or have they fired all the cops since the "CHiPs" times?? During all the trip we only saw one time a patrol car ; it was in a 4 lanes highway, everybody was doing 80 in a 65 hwy (exept us) the cops picked one car at random and arrested it, the others went on as if nothing had happened!! Wow, such an efficient way to enforce the speed limit!!

- Our conclusion :driving in California is unsafe and you are put at risk whenever you take your car and hit the road. The road beahviors seemed to us selfish, mean, it was some kind of "i'm the king of the road, i do hatever i want to do no matter he consequences, get off the road" attitude.

Actually, the behaviors we noticed in the California roads were similar to those of French drivers until 2003 when the governement said "enough" and launched a strong set of measures to fight the anarchy on the roads. Measures were based on :
-much harsher penalties for speeding, DUI, cell phone use, etc : fines increased, jailtime systematized
-increased enforcement, greater visibility of the enforcement, hence increased probability to have your behaviour checked on he road
-widespread use of fixed speed cameras and mobile speed cameras in unmarked cars : this is the center measure that has cut the death toll by 40% since 2003. We have now 2000 speed cameras and until 2012 there will be 3000 new ones. This has turned the roads safer, behaviours've been pacified.

You might think i'm kind of rude in the way I express myself but we were really amazed by what I'd call complete anarchy in the california roads with really dangerous behaviours! We often felt jeopardized by the road behaviors of the californian drivers!! And, no, we're not paranoiac.

So I'd like to have the opinion of california drivers on the forum. Have you ever drive in european roads recently? What do you think of the european drivers? What do you think of the behaviors of your counterparts in California roads? of yours too?? Do you also frequently notice the kind of behaviors I report above in your daily commutes etc? How are california drivers compared with the other states? is CHP another myth or do these guy really exist ?
Just like in California, we have all of these in my area of Texas. The driving dynamic on the roads isn't too much different except we also have a greater share of those people who constantly do 5 or more below the speed limit and drive erratically even though they're not elder. Surprisingly, the California drivers (as evidenced by California plates) in my area are generally better than the locals - usually they're not too familiar with the area and are super careful with their driving or they're from some of the smaller towns in the oil business so they never really picked up the driving dynamics common in SF, SD, LA, etc.
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Old 12-14-2017, 01:50 PM
Location: Planet Earth
1,963 posts, read 3,054,529 times
Reputation: 2431
Why do people insist on resurrecting nine-year-old threads? This one had lain dormant for over nine months. Sheesh.

PS : More on-topic: there are idiot drivers everywhere. I have . photo I took last time I was in Rome. It was rush hour, and the two-lane road had FOUR lanes of traffic in it.

PPS: no need to reply or comment on my post - let thread DIE DIE DIE.
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Old 12-14-2017, 02:06 PM
Location: Avignon, France
11,169 posts, read 8,012,811 times
Reputation: 28996
I spent 8 months driving around in France... French drivers are no day at the beach either.
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