I suspected that moving cross country would involve tons of new and exciting experiences for me, not the least of which would be able to see the sky for more than 5 minutes continuously. For those of you not familiar with Mobile, AL it rains a lot. How much do I mean by “a lot?” you ask? There’s used ark lots every few miles and the day after I flew out it began raining and did so every single day for the next 22 days. I wish I could act shocked but this is actually pretty common.
As a side result of growing up in a city that could pass for Atlantis to the ancient Greeks, I feel my driving skills (especially in this stuff called “weather”) are pretty respectable. I’m not talking stunt car driving here; I think I’m somewhere halfway between that level and the level that every male over the age of 16 thinks he is. Pretty aight in other words yeah? Despite my ninja-like reflexes and cool demeanor under pressure, it still took me about three months to learn the unwritten rules of driving in San Diego. In an effort to save visitors some time and frustration in the future I’ve compiled my wisdom here. Without further ado, the 10 Rules to Driving in San Diego
- All Mercedes are driven by women and all BMWs are driven by men. This is an important thing to know because Mercedes will run you off the road Mad Max style, whereas BMWs will drive faster than you no matter what.
*exception: Older model Mercedes can be driven by men and older model BMWs can be driven by women. My theory is that men have to buy their wife new car and get stuck with her old Merc, or they buy themselves a new car and foist their old one off on the wife. Interestingly enough this theory has its roots in geeks and new computer systems.
- Always follow an Audi when speeding. Every Audi owner in existence drives 10-15 mph over the speed limit and thinks he’s an Indy car superstar.
- The closer you get to LA, the faster you will drive. LA has its own speed-gravity well that will make you drive faster. The exception to this is of course rushhour(s) which is from 4am to 3:50am every day.
- If you see other lanes moving faster than yours DO NOT change lanes, I can’t emphasis this enough. Everyone else sees it just like you and they’re all going to jump into it making it the new slow lane. Stay where you are and your turn to be the fast lane will come. Then everyone will want in YOUR lane (just stay outta mine).
- Wrecks will ruin your commute, period. It doesn’t matter that it’s just a fender bender in the carpool lane because all traffic will be stopped at least 5 miles before it and possibly after it. Even longer if there’s flashing lights.
- The carpool lane. Oh, the carpool lane. Where else do we spend millions of dollars to build something that most people never get to use? Probably 5% of people use it regularly, and any time one starts, ends, or there’s a wreck, it completely @#$@# up the flow of traffic for the other 95% of us. Hoorah.
- Weather. Hoooly crap weather. San Diegians are great with sunshine and fog and cloudiness. They are not so great with rain. In their defense it’s pretty hard to be a good driver in conditions that you see maybe twice in your life. Coupled on top of that is the fun fact that on the whole, San Diego doesn’t have storm drains. The ground doesn’t absorb it either; the roadside is so tough that rainwater runs back on the road in an effort to find somewhere soft to hide. Since it doesn’t rain that often the rainwater picks up the layer of oil and emissions on the road and the freeway is now a ghetto recreation of the Icecapades with two ton death machines with squealing tires instead of highly trained singing dancers.
- Every Prius you see (and there are plenty) will attempt to cut you off. No question. Just be ready for it and don’t expect the blinker.
- Blinkers are optional, but highly advisable. If you cut someone off with your blinker on they’ll wave and smile politely like they intended for you to get over. If you don’t use a blinker and try this you get flipped the bird.
- The best lane to pass in is the upcoming exit lane, especially if it’s an exit only lane. By far these are the least populated lanes on the freeway making them ideal for quick acceleration and maximum anger-inducing in your fellow drivers.
- Pedestrians have the right-of-way no matter what. This was a bit of an adjustment for me personally since the Alabama law states “on a crosswalk” at the end. Not so much here- people feel perfectly safe crossing parking lots while playing hopscotch or say, trying to perform handstands, and have no fear of getting hit by a car. By comparison bicyclists do not enjoy the same immunity and are supposed to be treated like any other vehicle. It’s always fun to slam on your breaks and watch an obnoxious cyclist go flying over your trunk and hood.