If you ever find yourself driving in Southern California, this guide may be quite handy.
Traffic congestion is a tricky and complicated business, requiring looks into other larger problems such as the social and economical impact in the region. Thus, it’s entirely appropriate for a so-called personal finance blog to put forth a guide on some of the busiest highways in the nation.
The 5-6 AM Crowd
This is probably one of the better crowds to drive with. These guys aren’t on the road for fun, they’re trying to get to work. Their no-BS attitude makes the commuting experience a blast. That is, incident free blast. No fuss, just from point A to point B and be done with it. They’re usually not distracted by the cell phone because they understand the ones awake at this time are probably also on the road with them.
The 5 to 6 crowd also likes to drive at a fairly fast pace, even though the highway is slowly becoming semi-congested. They’ve dance the dance before, so they know the routine. They understand that if they drive at a slow speed in the fast left lanes, they’ll just be making things worse for everyone. So, they’ve concluded that if everyone drives at a reasonable speed together, things will work out O-K.
Unfortunately, congestion occurs due to accidents by douches from other time periods. They think they need to speed through traffic just because they woke up in the middle of the night at an unknown location; or, have to get to work early that particular day to setup some lame meeting.
The 7-8 AM Crowd
Argh. It’s not that the 7 to 8 AM crowds are morons, it’s just there’s so many of them that your chance of having morons on the road greatly increases. There’s not much to say about the 7 to 8 AM crowd, they’re just too many of them. Damn the standard working hours.
Problems occur during this time period can usually be attributed to previously mentioned morons. Occasionally you’ll also get a 5-6 AM dude, waking up late and panicking. He’ll forget his daily training and attempt (in vain) to fly through the 7 to 8 crowd.
The 9-11 AM Crowd
At around 9 AM, the transition period, you’ll still have some unlucky 7-8 people around. Unfortunately they don’t magically disappear. At 10 to 11 AM, things quiet down a wee bit. Life gets a bit easier. People commuting at this time are those lucky bastards that have work or school late. You’ll also see some of them in cars that’s worth three times more than yours. The real infuriating thing about these schmucks is the fact that you know their car can go 0-60 in 5.3 seconds, but they’re getting on the highway on-ramp at the speed of a turtle.
As you’re stuck behind said vehicle doing 40 mph, slowly merging in while the highway traffic is at a brisk pace of 70, you curse out loud and realized that you’ll die today, all because some jackass won’t merge on the highway at a reasonable speed.
The 12-3 PM Crowd
You have your lunch crowd, the shopping crowd, the pick kids up from school crowd, and the got-off work-early-yay-I’m-free crowd. All of them are on cell phones.
“What? You’re still at work? How unfortunate!”
Some of will have one hand on the phone and the other hand on the wheel. The ones with bluetooth headsets etc. aren’t any better, they’ll fling their free hands about in the air as they describe an event to the other person on the line—even though the other person can’t see them.
You’ll curse out loud as one of them slowly drift into your lane without realizing it. You honk madly to little result, as they’re oblivious to what they just did. So you drive past them and stare at them hard, because that’s the universal ‘you’re driving like an asshole’ sign.
“Oh man this ugly guy is totally looking at me, I think he’s trying to hit on me!”
The 4-6 PM Crowd
“I just want to get home so I can watch So You Think You Can Dance!”
The 7-10 PM Crowd
Some are the ones still stuck from the 4 to 6 PM rush hours, those poor fools. Although traffic has lighten up, the 7 to 10 PM crowds aren’t any better. They’re a jumpy, impatient lot. They’re either late for their date or late for some sort of event or another. Everyone’s cutting through traffic, trying to beat the next car ahead of them.
Problems occur during this time are usually due to some stupid 7 to 10 person in their fixed up ride, thinking they’re Michale Knight from Knight Rider. Some will be in really fast vehicles, losing control because they upped the engine but didn’t up the suspension, tires, or brakes. Some will be in POS vehicles (but not to them), losing control because—well, they’re in a POS vehicle.
The 11-4 AM Crowd
Should really be at home already. Don’t they have jobs or something, dammit?
There are thankfully very little of this crowd, so there aren’t too many problems. Occasionally you get unlucky and you’ll meet the 11 to 4 AM highway construction crowd.
Noteworthy Negative Impacts on Southern California Highway
1. Rain – Southern Californian’s nemesis.
It’s really silly, but a good number of people living in Southern California cannot drive in the rain.
The minute a sprinkle drops, red brake lights will appear and traffic will suddenly slow down 40 mph. Which would be fine, if it wasn’t so abrupt and sudden. Oh sh*t rain! *slams on brake*
Things get more stupid when everyone starts speeding up again. “Hah, all that hype about driving slow in the rain, what a bunch of BS! It’s not that bad at all!”
Southern Californians, for some reason, cannot understand the fact that tires may have a difficult time touching the ground surface when there is a layer of water between them—especially since water can’t magically compress itself. Thus, there are treads on tires to help with traction during wet condition. Southern Californians will do well to remember that when treads on a tire are gone, they should replace the tires. Unless they like spinning around on the 405.
The possible impaired visibility from rain would dictate that you should replace your tail lights if they’re broken, and you should swap out your wiper blades if they’re dulled. But why bother, it never rains.
2. CHP – You know, California Highway Patrol
It’s not that they make things worse for everyone. They probably do a good job on pulling over wacky drivers.
The problem is, whenever their presence is known, you’re suddenly stuck in granny driving land. Everyone will suddenly drive at 61 mph, clustering together, afraid to pass the CHP unit.
You’ll try in vain to get out of the wolf pack, so you can get to your exit. But, that’ll never happen till the CHP unit exit the highway (only to get back on the next entrance). Apparently, some people still get fooled by this tactic.
3. Driver License from Cereal Boxes
The license to drive in California, is given out as if they’re the free prize from a cereal box. Yours truly is a testament to that. Drivers education in California is lacking severely, while DMV testing is a crazy joke. Some are insanely hard, failing you if you dare to cough. Conversely, some are insanely easy, passing you even if you storm through stop signs (because they’re in a good mood that day).
Regardless of how silly DMV driving test is, you will eventually get a license—even if your driving skill is crap. This issue probably applies all across the country anyway. Just compare our driving statistics with that of other developed nations with higher license requirement (e.g., age requirements).
Other Friendly Tips
- When merging on the highway, merge at reasonable speed. When you force other cars to brake, you create a not too awesome chain reaction at entrance points.
- Just because your ride has AWD doesn’t mean you can cut through traffic in a rain storm at 90 mph. It doesn’t mean your tires will magically stick better to wet ground.
- If you like to drive at 55 mph, please stick to the right lane. When there’s a trail of car behind you but none in the next lane, you’re probably driving too damn slow.
- If you merge all the way to the carpool lane only to drive slower than traffic in regular lanes, you’re a douche bag. Get back out to the regular lanes, please.
- When you’re driving past an accident, please don’t slow down just so you can ogle at the scene. It would probably be good if you just keep going at a reasonable speed.