Traffic School

It has come to my attention that many of my fellow California drivers require some remedial traffic education, and to be reminded that driving is a privilege which is granted after someone demonstrates that ou is competent to drive a motor vehicle, not a right. That means that you actually are not allowed to flagrantly disobey the traffic laws which prevail wherever you happen to be driving.

Right on red, for example, does not mean “GO on red.” It means that when the light is red, after you have come to a complete stop and ascertained that it is safe to do so, you may turn right. If a right turn is controlled by a separate light, you need to obey that light, not your own personal whims. Occasionally, it is not possible to turn right on right because the traffic is too heavy. Then, perhaps you need to wait for the light to turn green. Sorry.

When someone on a highway is making a left turn off the highway and onto an access road, that person’s right of way trumps that of someone on that access road who is trying to turn onto the highway. Why? Because the traffic on the highway has no stop, and is not required to yield. The person turning left must yield to oncoming traffic on the highway, but not to traffic on side roads.

In the State of California, you cannot enter an intersection unless you know that your vehicle can clear it, regardless of right of way. That means that when traffic on the other side of an intersection is blocked and your light turns green, you don’t get to go until there is enough room on the other side for your car to fit. Otherwise, you will be sitting in the middle of the intersection, which is dangerous, and you could wind up blocking traffic when your light turns red and you are still sitting there and the traffic which now has the right of way cannot go because of your GIGANTIC ASS BEING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE GODDAMN ROAD.

Merging traffic does not have right of way. That means that when a lane is ending, and you are in the lane that is ending, you are responsible for making a safe and timely merge. It does not mean that you should drive to the very end of the lane that is ending and cut someone off. It also does not mean that after the lane has ended, but it is still a little wide, that you should go around a car which is in the remaining lane, because that car has the right of way, not you. While it is nice for people to let each other in in merging traffic, it’s not actually required by law. Get used to it, and don’t be a dick.

Bicycles are traffic. Pedestrians are not. That means that cyclists need to obey the traffic laws, which means that you should treat them like other (very fragile) cars. If you try to be nice to a cyclist, you will probably interrupt the flow of traffic, irritate the cyclist, and piss off other drivers. On the other hand, pedestrians can do pretty much whatever they want and you are powerless to stop them. Also, they’re sneaky/fast little buggers, so watch out.

If your car does not bear a handicapped placard, you do not actually get to park in a handicapped space. Not even for a minute. Not even with your engine running. Go find a parking space for your temporarily able-bodied behind, and schlep wherever it is you need to go like everyone else.

Also, although it’s not specifically stated in the law, when you are a dumbass, it’s really annoying, and also dangerous. So don’t do it.

5 Replies to “Traffic School”

  1. “Right on red, for example, does not mean “GO on red.”

    I should get that on a bumper sticker. That is the worst – when people honk at me for not turning right on red – when it is NOT SAFE!!!

  2. Same same here. When we arrived in CA once, we struck something we don’t have here; an intersection with 4 Give Way signs. Had me flummoxed until I asked someone who said it was first in, best dressed. That would wreck havoc in OZ so we have one way being ‘Stop’ and the other ‘Give Way’.

  3. I actually got rear-ended once by someone in Oakland who was infuriated by my refusal to go right on red when there was oncoming traffic which would have hit me!

  4. At which point the proper course of action is to get out of the car, go yank them out of theirs onto the ground, and kick them in the head! Not that I would suggest or condone such an action, mind you.

    Merging traffic not having the right of way seems dangerous to me. Too many situations where you would end up relying on the kindness of others to be able to get where you’re trying to go, that cannot be trusted as a good thing.

    As both an occasional bicyclist and pedestrian, the behavior of the average driver is appalling and dangerous. The law serves only one purpose in this sordid triangle – to put those outside of cars in danger. The only close calls I’ve ever had while walking or riding were while I was following proper procedures and the drivers weren’t. When you have to be a sneaky bastard to be safe, there’s a serious problem. Never had to jump out of the way of a car when I was crossing in the middle of a street.

    Think it’s about time I visited one of those islands that disallow cars.

  5. Yeah, you know, I thought about doing that, except that I was in Oakland, and it occurred to me that the rear ender was a. probably much stronger than I was b. high and possibly c. armed. This is not to say that I think everyone in Oakland is buff, armed, and high all the time, but given the neighborhood I was in, the vehicle which rear ended me, and the time of night, it seemed highly probable.

    Also, in re: merging traffic, you are not “waiting on the kindness of strangers,” you are waiting until it is safe to merge. Which means that yes, sometimes, you actually need to come to a complete stop and wait for an opening. As in a natural opening in the flow of traffic, not an opening you or someone else creates. It also means that you need to plan ahead; if you’re in, say, the far left lane on the approach to the Bay Bridge and there’s a GIANT SIGN overhead that indicates that the left lanes are reserved for people with FasTrak, and you do not have a FasTrak, the time to move to the right and into a lane you can use is not three feet away from the toll plaza, but rather as soon as you notice the sign, so that you have time to safely move across several lanes of traffic.

Comments are closed.