Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.


LA Motorist Handbook: Mixed Signals

Before you
Dear reader, we're asking you to help us keep local news available for all. Your financial support keeps our stories free to read, instead of hidden behind paywalls. We believe when reliable local reporting is widely available, the entire community benefits. Thank you for investing in your neighborhood.


Speaking of traffic...

While thumbing through our copy of the 2005 California Drivers Handbook, we're amazed how different the world is outside its pages. For instance, CA Drivers Handbook says this aboutSignaling:

Always signal to other drivers when you plan to turn left, right, slow down, or stop. Signals may be given by hand-and-arm positions or by using the vehicles signal lights. If bright sunlight makes the signal lights hard to see, use hand-and-arm signals also.
Always signal: * Your left or right turn during the last 100 feet before reaching the turning point. Caution— Even though you signal, do not automatically assume that the space you wish to occupy is clear.
* Before every lane change. Also, look over your shoulder and check your blind spot before changing lanes.
* At least five seconds before you change lanes at freeway speeds.
* To let other drivers know your plans.
* Before pulling next to or away from the curb.
* When you change directions.
* Even when you don’t see other vehicles around. A vehicle you don’t see might hit you.

If you plan to turn beyond an intersection, start signaling when you are in the intersection. If you signal too early, the other driver may think you plan to turn into the intersection and he/she may pull out in front of you.

Remember to cancel your signal after turning if it doesn’t turn off by itself.

In LA the rules are different. As many of our readers have commented, Angeleno driving customs aren't as bad as those of drivers in other countries and cities, but we're close. Soon we're going to need "Signaling As a Second Language" classes or else LA residents aren't going to get anywhere, anymore.
Support for LAist comes from

Why is it so hard to remember to touch that little signaling lever adjacent to the average steering wheel?

We theorize that it's difficult to signal while talking on the phone. Maybe everybody has a form of carpal tunnel symdrome that prevents manipulating fingers and wrists while driving.

Whatever it is, it's a pandemic. In LA, folks constantly change lanes on busy streets without signaling their intentions to other drivers. The prevailing attitude here is "If it feels good, do it."

We're especially scared of the drivers who insist that signaling isn't necessary when pulling out of parking space. We surmize that everyone's under delusions of paranoia that, like Lindsey Lohan and the area's many many celebrities, they are constantly under surveillance and take all necessary steps not to communicate their intentions lest the paparazzi or crazed stalker follow them to their next destination.

Think of it as the auto version of that big sun glasses affectation sported by the hipsters.

And while we're on the subject of affectation, what is it with the seemingly irrational impulse of Angeleno drivers to speed up when you signal a change into their lane? We were always taught to slow down a bit and let the person in. But that custom has certainly changed.

Now, it's a fight to the death to wedge yourself into a tiny space, gridlock or no, and often ends in engaged fights over fender benders. Why doesn't a sense of self-preservation, if not courtesy, motivate folks to let another car in to a lane so as to preserve the integrity of their paint finish?

What's up with that?