Driving in a place you’ve never been to before is always nerve-racking. And that’s not just because you’ll be on an unfamiliar road. Rather, the rules of the road may be different from where you come from.
A road trip to or through California can be an experience of a lifetime. The breathtaking terrain and Luxury Retreats are complemented by the scenic coastal roads, huge freeways, grid city streets, and sun-kissed back roads.
Still, whether you are an American that’s resident in a different state or a foreigner visiting California, you have to familiarize yourself with the written and unwritten rules of California’s roads. We delve into some of these rules below.
1. Pedestrians Rule!
In almost every jurisdiction of the world, the law deems pedestrians as requiring more protection than cars. The idea isn’t any different in California. But pedestrian priority here is probably at a level you aren’t accustomed to.
While there’ll always be rogue drivers, most will go out of their way to give pedestrians right of way and so should you. Of course, pedestrians should cross the road only at designated crossings. However, if a pedestrian steps onto the road, stop your car and give way irrespective of where they do it.
2. Wheel Position on Parking
Whenever you park your car on an incline and along a curb, your wheels must face the correct direction. If you are parking uphill, the wheels must face away from the gutter. That way, if the brakes fail, the vehicle will roll into the curb. On the other hand, if you are parking downhill, the wheels should face toward the gutter for the same reason.
The front tire should always touch the curb if you want to avoid getting a parking ticket.
3. Curb Colors
California has a curb color code that determines who can park where and for how long. White curbs are for passenger boarding or disembarking, and the car can stop there for no more than a few minutes tops. Yellow curbs are for passenger and delivery loading or unloading for a maximum of 5 minutes.
Blue curbs are for persons holding a disabled permit. Red curbs are out of bounds for any form of parking, stopping, or standing. Apart from these colored curbs, you are free to park anywhere else you choose.
4. Beware the Stop Signs
California has more stop signs than traffic lights. They are virtually everywhere but more so in and around urban areas. When you come across a stop sign, you are required to come to a complete halt. Most local drivers though will just slow down to confirm it’s all clear before they carry on (this isn’t legal though). Pedestrians are allowed to cross the road at a stop sign.
5. Drive at or near the Speed Limit
Californians are used to fellow drivers cutting ahead of them. None of them, however, would take it kindly to being held up by the car in front of them even though the road ahead is clear of traffic.
At the minimum, you may be subjected to furious honking and a couple of choice swear words. At the worst, you may end up as the unwitting victim of unbridled road rage. To be safe, always drive at or near the road’s speed limit.
6. Flashers May Not Mean What You Think They Mean
When you are at an intersection, road turn, or another scenario where you or the other car may need to give way, make sure you have the right interpretation of driver flashing. Unlike many other parts of the world, when someone flashes you in California, they mean they aren’t letting you through.
7. Car Pool (or High-Occupancy Vehicle) Lane
On the freeway, you’ll notice that there’s a diamond-shaped sign painted on the leftmost lane. Any vehicle with at least 2 occupants is allowed to use this lane. It’s often emptier and therefore, faster.
If the car pool lane has broken lines in certain sections, you have to get in and out of the lane. However, if the lane is marked by a solid line, you must stay put throughout.
Driving in California is great fun with plenty to see and do. Despite some sections of road falling into disrepair, the roads are mostly in excellent condition. A California road trip is something you could one day narrate to your grandkids. Just make sure you are well aware of the rules we’ve discussed here, and you’ll be good to go.
We are happy to present this collaborative post to offer valuable information to our readers.