Bad driving: Something random I worry about.

I've never really admitted this to anyone, but something I worry about from time to time are idiot transplants who move to Los Angeles from other parts of the country and dilute the quality of driving there.  Growing up, my conception of Southern California drivers was this: aggressive, but generally competent and more courteous than any other part of the country.

Case in point:  In the Los Angeles metro area, when someone in the next lane flips on their turn signal and wants to merge into your lane, what is the right thing to do?  The answer is positively revolutionary: you YIELD.  

Amazing, right?  And what happens in every other part of the country?  You speed up, as if out of spite.  Like you would lose your place in line or something if you let someone in before you.

I've shared this observation with a bunch of people, especially non-Angelenos, and they insist that Los Angeles drivers are just as obnoxious as those in other parts of the country.  I disagree and am willing to bet that anyone in LA, who does not yield when you flip your signal to get into their lane, is a transplant from another state (including the Bay Area).

When driving here in the Bay Area, I hate to admit that I usually adopt this abhorrent practice of speeding up to avoid letting people into my lane.  I rationalize it by being late to everything.  But once in a while I get to feeling evangelical (setting a good example and all), and when someone signals to merge into my lane, I slow down to yield.  This usually results in much confusion on the part of the other driver, who pauses and makes no move to merge, though their signal light is still blinking. And I have to motion frantically to them and yell "GO, you mofo!"

But if that person yields to another driver the next time someone wants to merge into his lane, then it was worth it!

The other thing that really frustrates me about Bay Area drivers is when I'm driving at a steady speed of about 35-40 mph on a surface road, and I approach an intersection, and I see a car at the intersection that looks like it is going to make a right turn into my lane.  Now, most people who have a decent sense of safety will opt to wait until the coast is completely clear before making a right turn (or any kind of turn).  I definitely make sure there are no oncoming cars before I make any sort of turn.

But what to many Bay Area drivers do?  Of course, they take a chance and turn right into my lane when they CLEARLY don't have enough room to accelerate.  This causes me (and often the car behind me) to slow way the heck down in order to avoid rear-ending the retard who made the right turn.  It's not only an obnoxious thing to do, but it's also totally stupid and dangerous.  It's these kinds of blockheaded maneuvers that cause accidents.  My parents always say it takes only 1 idiot to cause an accident.  They are great drivers, so I'm inclined to agree with them.

Moral of the story: Don't DWI (Drive While Idiotic).
11 responses
So true. This reminds me of that George Carlin quote: "Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?"
Dude. Are you on crack? I couldn't disagree with you more. LA drivers are among the worst! I haven't driven in too many other parts of the country but I can assure you, 99% of drivers in LA are just as bad. They cut you off like there is no tomorrow (one time I was going at about 45 on the right most lane, about 50 ft away from the on ramp entrance. This jackass behind me decides I was going too slow and changes lane, then swerves back into my lane, JUST so he can get onto the onramp... he couldn't wait 5 secs...). No one lets you merge on the freeway in LA... you got to be kidding me. I can only merge because I drive a huge ass van and if they hit me, they loose.... sorry to break it to ya dude.
Florida drivers are terrible. Florida is full of old people who are timid drivers. Timid drivers who drive 5 - 10mph slower than the posted speed limit.
@napoleon thank you.
@ping dude it sounds like you were, in fact, driving too slowly.  And merging onto the freeway I understand.  You should definitely be going at the speed of oncoming traffic before attempting to merge (otherwise you make people slow down).  That's just one thing my dad taught me.  You don't change lanes AND THEN SLOW DOWN.  You signal, they yield, you merge AND SPEED UP.  If you try going at the same speed or faster than oncoming traffic, I bet they will let you in.  Jeez, man.
@linda I'm sorry to hear it =P

My impressions are: Bay Area drivers are totally oblivious and LA drivers have road rage.

Case and point: in the Bay Area, what happens when you get to a stop sign? Very often ppl are so oblivious to who came to the stop sign first and end up in a "you go"-"no you go first" kind of unnecessary traffic jam, and sometimes end up going at the same time.

LA drivers? I don't blame them for being so angry on the road. Who wouldn't be if you are stuck in traffic for 3 hours everyday?

I am biased since I lived in New York, but I honestly believe that the NY drivers are the best. Yes they are aggressive, the yellow cabbies even more so than other. But they are also completely aware of what's going on around them: how far is the guy behind them, does the guy in the next lane looks like he's switching over, how fast do they have to drive to catch the next light. And if you need to switch lanes, it's up to you to find a big enough slot and move over at the appropriate speed, and not some other person to make room for you.

Cops should spend less time giving ppl parking tickets and more time giving tickets to ppl on the road who don't know how to drive properly.

I love your rant.

I'm not going to make a judgment against transplants (I'm a So Cal born girl myself, now living in the Bay Area), but I agree that there are TONS of selfish drivers.

Stephanie, you are so right about the lack of merging abilities. It's really frustrating that so many RUDE drivers think the road belongs to them. They never consider the consequences!

I definitely agree with you so much about idiot drivers. This is a great rant. It really infuriates me me people turn right into my lane when they only have less than 2-3 car length between me and their car as Im driving 30-40 down the road. Then some just turn in my lane, slow down about a 100 yards or less to turn right on the next street or to some stupid fast food joint. Ive notice more and more in my town that drivers are less courteous when people want to change lanes with their blinkers on. Drivers use to be nicer about that years ago but not so much now.

Also another example of retard driving is when you are the first car at a red light, then drivers from the cross street or highway's light turns green, yours turn red but they still keep turning or driving across many many seconds after you have the green. Particularly cars turning right then they pile up at another intersection thats red but they line up and block your right away when its green for like a minute or two. Also some retards that keep turning left when they have a red light, your light turns green and car after car keep on turning like they are begging to get hit. I made this one car slam on his breaks when I bolted on my green light and this one car wanted to turn from his left lane right in front of me but I stopped him.

You would absolutely flip out and go into a fit of road rage if you drove in my town or really most any town in Alabama. It so hard for me to keep my anger in check but I keep my cool. Not worth a care wreck just cause a retard or two cant drive.

I agree with a lot of what you say, but as a transplant to the bay area 8 years ago, I long ago learned that it is best to surrender to the general practices that people around you follow.

Like you, I try to be polite and let people merge in front of me, but I often don't since they don't understand what is going and it ends up being more trouble than it is worth. If people get flustered and confused about what you are doing, they tend to make mistakes.

So now I tend to just drive the way people around here drive, except that I keep aware of my surroundings expecting them to make crazy moves at any time. :-)

well, glen and i NEVER let "cheaters" merge into our lane. those are the people who purposely drive down to the end of a lane that will end so that they can cut in. we will drive half in, half out of our lane just to foil the cheating.

our pet peeve is the selfish people who stupidly don't have fastrak but drive in the fastrak only lanes until just before they reach the toll booth. quite frequently the fastrak only lanes get blocked by these cheaters who try to cut back into the cash lanes at the last minute. we just sit on our horns and yell "CHEATER!"

@wendy LOL so vehement!
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