How to Drive Like a Local: A Guide for Transplants and Tourists

One of the challenges of getting to know any new city is learning the unspoken rules of its roads. That problem is compounded exponentially by the quirkiness, shall we say, of San Diego drivers. Therefore, in order to reduce the chances of a misunderstanding, visitors and more permanent arrivals would do well to educate themselves as much as possible about how the locals operate.

As an amuse-bouche of sorts, here are some key topics, followed by their snappy summaries:

  • Four-way stop signs: the power struggle of who can make the other person go first.
  • The fast lane: the far left lane in which every tenth driver insists on driving less than 60mph.
  • The slow lane: the far right lane in which every third driver insists on driving no less than 85mph.
  • Passing on the right: yeah, sure, what could possibly go wrong?
  • Changing lanes: cross at least 3 lanes whenever possible.

These are just a sample of the habits newcomers must develop in order to be successful on San Diego’s highways.

In addition, it’s critical any visitor understand when to use their blinkers.

When to Use Your Blinkers

Generally, don’t. The purpose of blinkers is to signal, pun intended, your intentions to your fellow travelers. And in San Diego, we want to keep other drivers on their toes, guessing what our next move might be.

Expect that other drivers can read your mind. Assume they know when you intend to change lanes. And that they can feel it in their bones that you’re slowing because you see a parallel parking spot ahead.

The only appropriate time to use your blinkers in Southern California is when you want to get over a lane, but the driver currently occupying the space you want refuses to make room for you. In that case, throw on your blinker to let that driver know that you are about to cut them off. 

Then cut them off.

The gist is: in San Diego, communication and courtesy are for quitters.

That’s all for now. I’ll be back with another installment soon. Thanks for reading!

6 thoughts on “How to Drive Like a Local: A Guide for Transplants and Tourists

  1. You are right on the money.  We moved to the lovely San Diego in December, 2019, from NYC. Still cannot understand why lots of Californians (of which I am one now), who are supposed to be laid back, drive more aggressively than New Yorkers.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I lived and drove in NYC for 20 years, then 20 more in the DMV (DC, MD, VA). New York drivers can be cruel. DC are a little bit more polite, but are woefully deficient in known the rules of the road. I’ve only been here 3 years, but I find that the drivers on this best coast are the most polite and decent. Just my 2 cents.

    Liked by 1 person

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