Thursday, April 3, 2008

Top tips to help you pass your California written driver exam (from an absolute beginner)...

American 'Not a through road' street signThis is for all you folks who at some stage may want to take the California written driving test, or just for the fun of it are interested to know the differences between UK and Californian driving laws or for when you may actually be driving here. All this from a complete and utter novice, me.

My TOP TIPS for learning to drive in California are:

  • Drive on the right-hand side of the road (it may sound obvious, but it's the little things that count people!)

  • The maximum speed limit on most Californian highways is 65 mph (although you can drive up to 70mph where posted)

  • You can turn right on a RED light - the most amazing and surprising thing about driving here, is that if there are no pedestrians crossing, or any vehicles coming on their green light or a sign which says you can't can turn. It seems totally alien to us Brits, but it's such a good rule!

  • A RED coloured curb means no parking, stopping or standing at any time

  • A WHITE coloured curb means you can stop long enough to drop of passengers or mail

  • A YELLOW coloured curb allows you to stop to load or unload passengers or freight (for the time posted and non commercial vehicle drivers have to stay with their car)

  • A BLUE curb is for disabled use only

  • A GREEN curb mean you can park for a limited time (check for signs or time painted on the curb)

  • Like Britain, from 1st July 2008, Californian drivers will not be allowed to use mobile phones (or cell phones) whilst diving unless using hands-free and all those pesky under 18s are not allowed to use any mobiles or other electronic equipment

  • There is a 15 mph speed limit for alleys, blind intersections and within 100 feet of a railroad crossing

  • Within 500 feet of a school with children outside and in a business or residential district (unless posted) the speed limit is 25 mph

See how much you're learning today. Obviously having been a non-driver in the UK, I'm not sure how much of this is the same as the British Highway Code, but all I know is the California Driver Handbook seems much smaller (the UK version doesn't have an intro from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger either!).

Anyway, back to my TOP TIPS...

  • As you know from my previous musings, you really do need a car to get around in L.A. So what happens when you want to go out to a bar or dinner? Well drinking and driving is BAD and not very sensible (especially on the scary freeways), but the legal limits are: .08% blood alcohol concentration for a normal person, .04% for drivers of commercial vehicles, 0.01% if you're under 21 and absolutely zero if you are 18 or younger.

  • Some top tips for dealing with ROAD RAGE are to not tailgate (following to closely), don't honk you horn at other drivers or cut them off, don't drive too slow in the fast lane, don't make any gestures and avoid making eye contact with an angry driver (good luck with that!)

  • They drive some mighty huge trucks and rigs here in the U.S. and the thing to remember is that their stopping time doubles, so to 800 feet when driving at 55 mph, and they have a NO ZONE, which is where their blind spots are. So never tailgate a truck, linger alongside for too long when passing or cut them off to reach an exit or turn.
  • Los Angeles squirrel

    You can find all this stuff in the latest California Driver Handbook 2008 which is available online, along with some useful sample written tests (5 of them) and an interactive Driving Knowledge tutorial, which I've found helpful.

    I hope I haven't bored you all to death today and just to lighten the mood, here's another squirrel pic, which you need to be a good driver to avoid running over as they are everywhere!!


    stria4 said...

    Just in case you ever drive outside of California, be aware that in SOME states it is NOT legal to turn right on a red. It can get quite confusing, but I agree it's a mostly smart rule.

    And did you know that there are certain times where it's legal to turn LEFT on a red light? Look it up!

    Jason in Hollywood said...

    Thanks, I need all the help I can get!!

    Rosie said...

    You'll have to start naming the squirrels as I'm now getting confused how many are really around as you could just be photographing the same one :-).

    Jason in Hollywood said...

    I can confirm there are multiple squirrels (a gaggle?), but none were harmed during the taking of the photographs.....

    Rosie said...

    by the way they should only eat unsalted peanuts as too much salt is bad for them (it increases their heart rate and sadly they go to heaven too early) The one thing you should "never" do is hold a nut with your fingers for a squirrel to eat. Since the squirrels eyes are on the side of its head, it cannot see what is in front of its mouth. A finger feels about the same as a shelled nut.

    so be careful

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