Driving in California

After dealing with more than the average amount of imbeciles on the road today while driving to work, I thought I’d add some observances about the traffic and general behaviour on the road out here, which never ceases to amaze me. I’m sure there are good drivers out here (like there are, in fact, a lot of idiots on the road in England), but still…

In England the speed limit on the motorway is 70mph max.
In California the speed limit on the freeway is 70mph max.

In England, if you are on the motorway and want to change lanes, you look in the mirror, wait until there’s a gap, indicate and then change lanes.
In California, if you are on the freeway and want to change lanes, you just drive your car straight into desired lane as soon as the thought pops into your head.

In England, if you want to move to the right, you indicate right.
In California, if you want to move to the right, you can indicate left or right.

In England, when you’ve finished your manoeuvre, it’s second nature to turn off your indicator.
In California, when you’ve finished your manoeuvre, it’s so unusual to have used an indicator in the first place that you end up leaving it on, so it will be ready for use next time.

In England, if someone is indicating, they are usually going to turn, or change lanes.
In California, if someone is indicating, they’ve left their indicator on from the one and only time it was used in the last month.

In England, you have roundabouts.
In California, you have four way junctions with no traffic lights, and take it in turns to cross, without indicating, in order of who arrived first.

In England, if you want to turn right off a main road, you either use a filter lane, or the traffic waits behind you until you can make the turn.
In California, if you want to turn left off a main road, you use a specially built filter lane so you don’t have to remember to use your indicators. This single lane caters for traffic going in both directions.

In England you can’t go through a red light. Ever.
In California you can turn right through a red light, unless there’s a postage stamp sized sign saying you can’t on a lamppost on the other side of the 5 lane highway. Even if there is a sign, you can still turn right if you want to as long as the police aren’t looking. There’s no need to worry about other cars.

In England, even on the busiest commuter mornings, someone will let you out if the road is busy.
In California no one ever lets you out, not even in a car park, and waiting for a gap in traffic adds approximately three hours to your morning journey to work.

In England, if you are a pedestrian you stay out of the way of cars, or you will get run over.
In California you always have to give way to pedestrians, no matter where you are, and once you’ve given way, pedestrians like to walk extra slowly in front of you, to give you maximum time to admire their physique.

In England, using your mobile phone while driving is against the law, which for the most part is obeyed.
In California, using your cell phone while driving is considered essential for the correct operation of the engine.

In England you get onto the motorway using an entry slip road. If you leave the motorway, you use an exit slip road.
In California, to save space they build just one slip road at each junction. If you want to leave the freeway, you have to slow down in front of the traffic that’s speeding up and trying to get on. No indication is required, as it’s obvious by psychic thought transmission which drivers are joining, which drivers are leaving, and which drivers are just in the lane because they haven’t realised they shouldn’t be.

In England, if you don’t start driving the instant the lights go green, you get beeped at.
In California, the light changing green means you can go. If you want to. Or you could wait for the next one.

In England, at it’s best, traffic is courteous, harmonious and a pleasure to drive in.
In California, at it’s best, traffic is calm and steady, roads are spacious and the sun is shining.
In India, if you’re killed in a taxi overtaking three articulated lorries on a single carriageway by on oncoming bus, it’s because Jesus wanted it that way.

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