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If you haven’t grown up around the traffic of Southern California, your understanding of SoCal traffic might be limited to what you’ve seen on television or in the movies – which may not be too far from the truth as L.A. is considered the worst city when it comes to traffic congestion. It can be intimidating to drive on any street in a place where you are unfamiliar with the roads, but is it hard to drive in California? Here are some tips to keep in mid if you plan on visiting the southern part of the Golden State any time soon.


There is always some sort of traffic in Southern California, so you’re just going to have to accept this fact. Plan ahead to make sure you can reach your destination in time. Also keep in mind that there are extensive public transportation options, so you can actually keep from adding to the traffic problem by taking a bus rather than your own car. Most tourist destinations, such as Disneyland or the San Diego Zoo, even have shuttle services, and some hotels offer shuttles as well. There is always some sort of traffic, so accept this when making your plans.


I-5 is the main freeway that runs north and south throughout California, then you have the massive 1-15 running east and west through the state. The freeways, also called the interstate, are great for traveling to other parts of California or, for example, if you wish to get from San Diego to L.A. Like most other roads, the freeways tend to get extremely crowded during rush hour. Try to avoid driving on the interstate between 8:00 and 10:00 a.m. as well as between 3:00 and 6:00 p.m. if possible. Again, public transportation is another viable option.

Habits of California Drivers

If you are going to drive your own car, you should be aware of the habits of California drivers. Drivers in the Golden State are rather aggressive, which means if there is an opening, they will take it as best they can. It’s important to have plenty of patience because it is likely other drivers will cut in front of you if it looks like there is enough space to do so. Many drivers move very fast and might not even use the blinkers on their vehicle to signal before they move over.

It is also important to note that lane splitting is legal in California. This means that it is acceptable for motorcycles to drive between cars in adjacent lanes. Avoid a motorcycle collision by always double-checking before changing lanes. This can also mean that a biker could come up and pass you even if you are at a standstill on the freeway.

Quick Tips for Tourists

Most importantly, have patience when driving in California. The other drivers are in the same boat as you when it comes to getting to their destination. Leave ample space to prevent a collision, but don’t be surprised if another car moves into that space. Use your signals to tell other drivers what you plan on doing, whether that’s pulling off to the side of the road or changing lanes. If you do get into an accident. Pull off the road if you can and call the police, then exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver. If you have any qualms about driving in California, consider using public transportation or a ride service to get around.

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