Saturday, March 1, 2008

Pet Peeves List #195: Bad Drivers

Being a Californian who loves both the beach and the mountains, I've clocked many hours in my car. Within the 6 year that I've been driving I've seen a lot of bad driving. I live in LA County and go to school in Orange County. These two counties, though separated by nothing but a invisible line, have an over abundance of bad drivers, but with very different driving styles.

Orange County is where I've encountered the over overconfident drivers who think they own the road. I've never seen so many vanity plates or raised trucks before going to school down south. The trucks are massive, about the height of a house, however despite their large "off roading" tires and massive lifts, I'm willing to bet that at least half of these things have never so much as touched anything but asphalt or ever had a hitch attached to them. They're loud, obnoxious, and impractical. To top it off they tend to be driven by 1) tiny O.C. mom's or 2)Brahs*. Just today as I was driving to a store I saw the craziest move I've seen this year, for the sake of simplicity I'll call the trucks involved t1 and t2. T1 was traveling on the same road as I was and t2 was attempting to make a right turn into our street. T2 saw t1 coming down the street and dashes out to make the turn and get in front of t1. In doing so he almost side swipes t1. Clearly t2 is in the wrong. All three of us are then stopped at the intersection by the red light, and then it happened. T2 started honking at t1. He was laying on the horn pretty good and began to move left (crossing the double yellow) and shoots through the intersection and makes his left turn, all while the light was still red. The driver of t1 looked in his rear view mirror, with a look of shock,amazement and utter disbelief. I could see him mouthing, "WTF," over and over again. Literally 10 seconds later the left turn arrow turned green. It's drivers like T2 that also blaze down the roads at break neck speeds.

You see in the OC the speed limits are quite a bit higher than in LA County. The average residential street brushes up against 40 MPH, with most major roads at least at 45. However the speed limit is not the only thing that promotes high speed driving. The lanes are also a decent size wider than in LA county. The added speed and wider lanes give OC drivers the illusion of superiority, however in overall skill I believe, no I know, LA drivers are far better. How do I know this? Like I said I've clocked a lot of hours and at random points in the semester I'll stay down in Orange County for a few weeks on end and return home to LA county. When I get back to LA county with the smaller streets and different road conditions, I found I had lost the LA driver edge I had before.

LA county drivers are bad in a different way. Upon coming home from school within the first 10-15mins of crossing back into LA county I'll be cut off at least once. I attribute this, not to over zealousness, or arrogance, but rather sheer lack of attention. LA drivers love to multi task. Cell phones, make up, food, I've even seen reading. It seems the dynamics of LA play into this a lot, particularly in San Gabriel Valley, which has mainly an Asian population. Being an Asian driver myself, I can say this without feeling like a racist. Asian drivers as a whole aren't bad, especially the younger Asians, after all if you're going to invest a few grand into your rice rocket, you'd better know how to drive it. But really it's the older Asians who give us the stereotype of the horrible Asian driver. I live in a rather well off neighborhood where the cars often range in the $50's and up. Often times while at home, I'll be stuck behind a Mercedes SLK 55 AMG doing 25 in a 35MPH zone, and more often than not, the driver is a little old Asian lady. The true reasoning behind this is not only the Asian's more reserved attitude, but also the fact that many of these Asians came from over seas where they don't really drive unless they came from money, which most don't and thus driving a two ton killing machine is quite daunting. Regardless of the social-economical reasoning, we were talking in class the other day about there-ought-to-be-a-laws, and my law was simply as follows:

If you drive a better (and by better I mean more expensive with more features or horsepower) car than my Volvo S40 and I have to tailgate you, while you travel 5 or more miles below the speed limit, for more than 2 miles, we must then both pull over. Get out of our respective cars, and exchange keys. The point is this, if you drive a car that has two to three hundred horses under the hood, and you never take more than 10 out of the stable, you should not be spending 50-60 thousand dollars on those extra ponies. Invest in something else, like a chauffeur.

Spending so many hours driving around southern California, I've developed a very short fuse when it comes to bad drives, and that's why #195** is dedicated to the bad driver.

*Brah-(pronounced bra) Short for braddah or brother. Refers to those guys who wear SKIN, drive huge yet shiny and unscratched trucks and calls everyone bros. Think white fratboy. My apologies to all those from Hawaii, but SoCal Brah's have acquired your slang and turned it into this.
** The numbers aren't literal, but quite arbitrary, so if you're not diggin' this Pet Peeves series, don't worry there's not 194 more to go.

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