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Old 04-23-2008, 11:08 AM
 
Location: In a room above Mr. Charrington's shop
2,916 posts, read 11,092,682 times
Reputation: 1765

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ria Rhodes View Post
By the way, who's going to pay the people who supervise the side of the road community service sheeple? The California State budget is getting pared to the bone and soon may be on life support, so it's money, money, money that the state really wants.
Well put, and this really comes to the heart of the matter. Monetary fines are a source of state and local revenue, so my idea of "reforming" traffic-law violators some other way stands a snowflake's chance in Hell of ever being reality in CA. It's about money, not reform or justice; I am aware....

But, Ria Rhodes, you make a very good point as it relates to the state's budget. Now that it's in the tank, be prepared for tougher traffic-law enforcement. And, we can forget sweet talking our way out of it. During tough budgetary times, "sorry officer" won't get much sympathy.
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Old 04-24-2008, 10:23 AM
 
4,127 posts, read 5,075,651 times
Reputation: 1621
Quote:
Originally Posted by gildossantos View Post
Sorry but what does "free-for-all" mean? Does that mean everybody can do whatever he or she wants (regarding driving habits), like an implicit unsaid autorisation by the authorities to drive as you like?
In theory, no. In practice, yes... To a certain degree.

As long as drivers aren't doing anything too stupid or dangerous, traffic cops will tend to look the other way at most infractions. Their main concern is to keep traffic moving in a relatively safe fashion. They are peace officer who's duty is to keep the peace. Contrary to popular belief, they are not stormtroopers. Pulling someone over on the most congested freeways in the country can easily turn congested slow moving traffic into a 30 mile stoppage. Then we get the rubberneck effect. When there is an accident or a cop on the side of the road, people tend to want to focus all their attention on that instead of what's in front of them. That's when people start rear-ending each other. Sometimes it's better to let a few things slide. Generally speaking, the only time a cop in LA, or the CHP, will pull you over is when he or she feels your are endangering yourself or others.

At any given time, there are literally millions of drivers on the roads in and around LA. There aren't enough traffic cops to penalize every infraction and even if they did, the entire city would grind to a sudden stop.
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Old 04-24-2008, 11:59 AM
 
Location: Northern Nevada
8,545 posts, read 10,285,836 times
Reputation: 3068
Quote:
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 ?

You should try driving in Utah! We are native southern Californians and commuted for years, we have never, ever seen drivers like the ones here..give me California drivers anyday..
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Old 04-24-2008, 12:50 PM
 
Location: Pasadena, CA
32 posts, read 134,200 times
Reputation: 23
Default Like Free Markets - Freeways Amazingly Efficient

-- To the original poster, you made reference to accident ratios but did not follow-up with any specifics. I'd be interested to see if the government controls/driver behaviours in Europe reduce accidents and by how much, compared to California. --

I think SoCal freeways are amazing. Yes all those "complaints" about drivers are probably true, but "so what"? The ultimate purpose of freeways is to allow people to move from point A to point B. The degree of courtesy exhibited is indicative of the culture at large, not unique to the roadways.

The more liberty people have to use the roadways - provided the general safety of all is reasonably (key word here) protected - the better.

Often the same people who want strict enforcement of traffic laws are the same people who want absolute freedom in other areas of social life - it's szchinophrenic socialism/liberalism (sorry for the political reference, but I think how we view the role of government plays a role here).

When the government steps in and plays a major role in any part of society, there is a tendency of individuals to feel LESS accountable - i.e. because it's the "government's" job. This leads to lack of individual responsibility and creation of a "nanny-state", which stagnates growth.

The fact that the California highways have so little police enforcement is a sign of a GOOD THING! When given the chance (i.e. everyday), most drivers behave terribly responsibly, kind and considerate - WITHOUT the mandate of government.

Thanks.

PS - I always keep my rifle on the passenger seat in case I need it.
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Old 04-24-2008, 01:16 PM
 
745 posts, read 1,288,646 times
Reputation: 1471
In my mind, "horrible" drivers are those that get in wrecks. Rude and aggressive does not mean horrible in my experience. I've been driving in Southern California for 20+ years and have been rear-ended twice, once by a teenager and once by an illegal alien. That's it for wrecks. And I used to commute 50 miles one-way on the 5 freeway from Orange County to Los Angeles, which sometimes took two hours each way.

I lived in New Mexico for ONE year and was rear-ended twice and saw more accidents than I can remember seeing in California. Not to mention they hardly sweep their roads there.

If you look at these stats you'll see that California's auto fatality rate per 100k is 11.62, below the national average of 14.24. Some states like New Mexico are in the 20s.

California (http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/departments/nrd-30/ncsa/STSI/6_CA/2006/6_CA_2006.htm - broken link)

Southern California drivers, particularly in Orange County, drive way too fast, but they do not wreck very often. And since most of them drive fairly new cars, their breaks work well. You have to drive as they do, and on the 5 and 405 in Orange county you'll need to go at least 75 MPH. Otherwise you are going to have cars zipping and zooming all around you, making you feel like they are horrible drivers.

The whole problem of multiple cars running red lights is fairly recent to this area. When I lived in New Mexico it was the rule that four or five cars would run through the red light, but this only really started in the past five years in Southern California. I think people are becoming more impatient, and once others start doing it they sort of follow suit. That's why there's a big push now for red light cameras and cops are writing a lot of tickets for cars that lack the mandatory front license plate (I got two in the past two months).

Rude, fast, and aggressive I will agree with, but not horrible.
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Old 04-24-2008, 04:46 PM
 
Location: In a delirium
2,588 posts, read 5,438,384 times
Reputation: 1401
Hi!

I just moved here from Oregon and had to quickly relearn how to be an assertive driver. In the northwest, people are really easygoing. At first, I found it annoying, but then just learned to relax and go with the flow. Well, now I don't want to revert back to my punk driving ways. Besides, I'm now carrying two small people in the back. But, in order to remain alive, I've had to brush up on all of my defensive driving skills. I trust no one!!!!

In Europe, I've only driven in Ireland (a hoot!) and Italy (frightening!). Ireland was a hoot, because it's fun to drive on the other side. Italy just had a lot of hairpin turns and I was still a new driver. I never drove in Russia, but I bicycled. I used to think Russian drivers were horrendous, but then realized they just had to swerve a lot to avoid losing their cars in the enormous potholes strewn about the roads.

Yet, I would still rather drive in California than in Atlanta. Those drivers are just plain mean - meaner than here. No matter where you go in the States, the drivers will suck. I do suspect that California has the worst drivers when it comes to skill. There are a lot of immigrants here from other countries, who probably never drove in their home countries. So, not only were they "old dogs" learning new tricks, but they had to learn those "tricks" from people who couldn't really drive well themselves.

We're all doomed!! Doomed, I say. Doomed.

Last edited by fjtee; 04-24-2008 at 04:47 PM.. Reason: misspelled word
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Old 04-24-2008, 04:58 PM
 
Location: Northern Nevada
8,545 posts, read 10,285,836 times
Reputation: 3068
Quote:
Originally Posted by PasadenaGuy View Post
-- To the original poster, you made reference to accident ratios but did not follow-up with any specifics. I'd be interested to see if the government controls/driver behaviours in Europe reduce accidents and by how much, compared to California. --

I think SoCal freeways are amazing. Yes all those "complaints" about drivers are probably true, but "so what"? The ultimate purpose of freeways is to allow people to move from point A to point B. The degree of courtesy exhibited is indicative of the culture at large, not unique to the roadways.

The more liberty people have to use the roadways - provided the general safety of all is reasonably (key word here) protected - the better.

Often the same people who want strict enforcement of traffic laws are the same people who want absolute freedom in other areas of social life - it's szchinophrenic socialism/liberalism (sorry for the political reference, but I think how we view the role of government plays a role here).

When the government steps in and plays a major role in any part of society, there is a tendency of individuals to feel LESS accountable - i.e. because it's the "government's" job. This leads to lack of individual responsibility and creation of a "nanny-state", which stagnates growth.

The fact that the California highways have so little police enforcement is a sign of a GOOD THING! When given the chance (i.e. everyday), most drivers behave terribly responsibly, kind and considerate - WITHOUT the mandate of government.

Thanks.

PS - I always keep my rifle on the passenger seat in case I need it.

Bravo...well said
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Old 04-24-2008, 06:57 PM
 
Location: At Sea....and Midwest....
272 posts, read 785,253 times
Reputation: 163
Yup....

Driving in California IS nuts....

I think only Moscow....and perhaps Rome are as bad....

....but for very different reasons.......

Last edited by Coffee Mate; 04-24-2008 at 07:02 PM.. Reason: ..follow at ONE car length for EVERY 10 MPH traveled.....
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Old 04-24-2008, 11:38 PM
 
Location: In a room above Mr. Charrington's shop
2,916 posts, read 11,092,682 times
Reputation: 1765
Quote:
Originally Posted by PasadenaGuy View Post
Yes all those "complaints" about drivers are probably true, but "so what"? The ultimate purpose of freeways is to allow people to move from point A to point B. The degree of courtesy exhibited is indicative of the culture at large, not unique to the roadways.
There may be some truth here, but I'm not convinced that it's completely the case that "the degree of courtesy exhibited [on the roads] is indicative of the culture at large...." I say it IS indicative of the roads and the car-culture to a large degree. Can't remember a fellow pedestrian ever exhibiting "sidewalk rage" by stepping on my heels, or something. Nor have I ever seen "train rage" or had other passengers attempted to, I don't know, bump me out of my seat or otherwise cause me discomfort or harm. This kind of behavior is overwhelmingly characteristic of car traffic.
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Old 04-24-2008, 11:53 PM
 
11,715 posts, read 40,508,188 times
Reputation: 7586
Quote:
Originally Posted by cre8 View Post
There may be some truth here, but I'm not convinced that it's completely the case that "the degree of courtesy exhibited [on the roads] is indicative of the culture at large...." I say it IS indicative of the roads and the car-culture to a large degree. Can't remember a fellow pedestrian ever exhibiting "sidewalk rage" by stepping on my heels, or something. Nor have I ever seen "train rage" or had other passengers attempted to, I don't know, bump me out of my seat or otherwise cause me discomfort or harm. This kind of behavior is overwhelmingly characteristic of car traffic.
Yeah something *does* happen when people get behind the wheel. Its not a new phenomenon but I think the ever increasing congestion in SoCal aggravates it. Does anyone remember Disney's Motor Mania from 1950? Motor Mania - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. I wish I could post a link to to but of course they're all down thanks to Disney's lawyers.
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