A Shift in My LA Driving Mentality

Maybe it's the coming baby.

Maybe it's the fatigue of driving anywhere for work with a range spanning from Bakersfield up North to Mission Viejo in the South and Santa Monica in the West to the border of California/Arizona.

Maybe it's about not wanting anymore tickets.

Maybe it's having been involved in way too many fenders that involve a car rear-ending me the past 2 years or so.

Maybe a little bit of everything.

I have gradually changed the way I drive, mostly from a gap-closing undercover speed racer...

to a

gap-surrendering overly cautious non-speed racer.

In the 13 years I've been driving LA streets and highways, I've logged around 130,000 miles, endured countless traffic jams on the 405, 101, 5, 110, 210, 1, 710, 605, 10, 110, 60, 91, 22, 118, 14,  mostly in a Corolla.  

Driving in LA really gets fatiguing, a sentiment shared with me by a fellow high school classmate I'd run into recently.  He himself having grown up in LA was also disgusted by the traffic --- to the point where he wanted to move away.

Driving as a habit in traffic is starting to get really, really old.  Some days I'm just ready to mentally check out and opt for a Google self-driving Smart car, which I actually would be scared of because of the potential for hacking and a lot of things that could go wrong with computerized systems, but that's another story.

I feel less like the teenager who on his way to a family party was egging on my dad to chase down someone who cut him off in Azusa and more like my mom who on every trip with my dad keeps her eye on the speedometer and tells him to slow down but also participates in the road rage expressions with him.

I feel more like the teenager terrified of the road and all that could happen rather than the teenager switching in and out of double yellowed lined carpool lanes in attempt to weave through traffic.

I think it's mostly my descent/ascent into design thinking, where I give people/other drivers a 'margin for error', that is room to make a mistake, such as a quick move into my lane.

Example:  if there's traffic in other lanes and there's a large gap between me and the car in front of me, I won't rush to close that gap, I'll proceed cautiously sure enough give to those who appear to be in a rush enough space to get in front.

Example 2:  Given that a lot of fenders have happened to me with the rear-end of my Corolla taking the punishment (and apparently not showing), I try to brake much in advance to ensure that the driver behind me will brake in advance as well, as opposed to braking only when the see me brake.

* * *

Having made this shift into allowing for a 'margin of error', all I see are drivers with the football running back mentality (which to be fair is not actually everyone on the road, but is everyone that I usually get mad at on the road).  See a gap?  Shoot at it.  They make an error?  It's their fault!  One idea brought by reading the book Traffic by Tom Vanderbilt.

I think those people with the 'running back mentality' including my very own CRV or Corrolla driving dear old dad, see the roads as something to get through quickly and efficiently.  They expect nothing more and nothing less.  They expect to 'get through', and god help us if someone gets in their way unexpectedly. 

'Time' is a big determining factor for how people drive, but I guess the eternal struggle/question in LA is deciding how were going to use 'space' and other drivers to help control this.

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