Vehicular Vernacular

When I first move to Southern California I learned that the simple question of “how far away is that?” had so many varying answers. The top ones being: “with or without traffic”? (ps this is a trick question there is ALWAYS traffic) and “do you want the most direct route or the route with less traffic?” Always take less traffic, unless you have a lot of patience.  Like any good Angeleno I spend a lot of time in my car, my daily  commute is about 30 minutes each way (barring any catastrophic traffic conditions or rain – we have no idea what to do in rain).  In the ideal version of myself I picture in my head I learn a new language, Italian obviously it’s so romantic and practical for LA, or listen to BBC world News and become more globally aware with all the time I spend in my car. In reality, based on how much time we spend together I feel like Ryan Seacrest and I are basically dating – my fondness for top 40 music can’t surprise you! I would also like to clarify that my fondness for Ryan Seacrest ends at his radio show I do not watch American Idol or or E! News, on purpose (doesn’t it come on right after Keeping up With the Kardashians ? I’m  kidding, maybe)

With so many people spending so much time in their cars the traffic culture of LA is pretty interesting and I have a compiled a fun list so when you come to visit you will be able to drive like a local or avoid an accident with a local – we all immediately assume you are horrible driver if you do not have CA plates.

  • Don’t ever use your blinker. Angelenos are way too important and in too much of a hurry to use blinkers, we probably left the house an hour ago to travel 8 miles (Hollywood) we need to get their faster so as soon as that spot in the lane opens up we are going for it.

*Addendum to above rule: only use your blinker if you are in gridlock traffic and need to get over, your blinker is basically saying “I’m coming over this is just a nice warning I’m about to cut you off”

  • The carpool lane doubles as a passing lane (if you have enough money): according to the California Dept of Transportation the HOV (high occupancy vehicle lane) is to be used by cars that have at least 2 people in the vehicle, BONUS: children count as an additional rider. If you get busted riding solo the fine is a minimum of $381.00! So I guess it depends on how lucky you are feeling and how much of a hurry you are in. Please also note: pets, infants still in the womb, dolls, and ghosts do not count as an additional rider
  • Always carry change, like a lot: Pay parking and parking meters abound in LA. It’s pretty much a guarantee that anywhere you are interested in going other people are too, hence the parking charge. Now some cities in Southern CA are getting fancy meters that take debit cards (hello future!) but in the meantime keep a roll of quarters just in case. In High traffic  (read as “touristy”) areas like Hermosa or Venice Beach a quarter may only get ya 10 minutes! They aren’t kidding when they talk about towing too.
  • READ THE SIGNS: read them more than once, if you are with a friend have your friend read them. Because at first glance this might prove to be a little confusing:


According to a recent LA Magazine article the most issued parking citation is for street sweeping. Thos of us who live here and street park know all to well the horror of waking up in a cold sweat trying to remember which side of the street you parked on, what time street sweeping is, and rushing out the door in pajamas to double check the signs just to make sure.  In 2010 $166,700,840 was collected in street sweeping tickets alone. So again, read the signs people.

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