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Posted: 6/24/2002 11:09:17 PM EDT
I just got back from Arizona, and in about two and a half days we drove by seven accidents. This was without leaving greater Phoenix. Actually saw one in progress on the other side of the freeway. Sure we have a lot of accidents here in the Bay Area, but I have never seen that many in so short a time. And whats up with all the slow drivers in the passing lanes. I thought that was strictly a California problem. Good news is the weather was awesome, even the wife didn't mind so much and is even considering reopening Arizona as a possible move spot. Of course my cousin telling her to watch for scorpions as we went to bed the first night didn't help. At least we got to see one on their stairwell before we left. And I thought our spiders were bad. [shock] Bad news is I didn't see one friggen gun on my entire trip there. Didn't have time to make it to a shop and no one was even open carrying. Rats.
Link Posted: 6/24/2002 11:17:43 PM EDT
When I drove there in 1993, I thought Californians were the best drivers I had ever seen. No slow people in the fast lane, quite the opposite. My sister (crappy driver) was always honked at by the CA drivers, but I never had a problem.
Link Posted: 6/24/2002 11:38:25 PM EDT
How hot was it in Phoenix? There are strange rumblings in the back of my head about escaping this socialist hellhole, but I'm not sure about the heat of AZ (this coming from someone who grew up in Bakersfield, which itself is known for warm summers...and crappy air).
Link Posted: 6/25/2002 12:37:21 AM EDT
Damn we got so many lame idiots on the road it's awful. Saw a 3-car wreck on 680 on my way home tonight. Saw a 2-car incident on 4 earlier in the day. Saw another wreck on 680 last week. Two weeks ago, some guy flipped his pickup on the pine/center on ramp to highway 4. About a month ago, I drove by a wreck on 680 S just past 4 where a truck pulled over on a lebaron convertible, and a Toyota 4runner spun out from the aftermath. Nasty...someone's face looked like it was missing a jaw. That upset my stomach for a few minutes. I dunno, after being in Missouri and Illinois the other week, I think we still have a lock on most crappy drivers per capita. Personally, I think you live in a low-idiot count area. how about that. My wife also says I seem to attract idiots on the road.
Link Posted: 6/25/2002 12:55:59 AM EDT
Well alot of our population is from Kali. And the rest is over the age of 65. Add the two together and you get alot of shitty drivers. I admit to being an active road rager I cannot stand people driving slow in the fast lanes.
Link Posted: 6/25/2002 4:34:49 AM EDT
[b]CA Drivers[/b] Native Californians are fine, upstanding drivers. It's the imports from Boston, Washington D.C., and Mexico you have to worry about. If you see a two tone Ford Econoline with a roof ladder and bubble windows...give it a wide berth of room as you pass. Oh, and of the 32 million people living in our state, a good number of them are female, and they have driver's licenses. And cell phones. And Starbucks.
Link Posted: 6/25/2002 5:34:37 AM EDT
Obviously none of you guys have done any driving in south Florida during the winter time....bad bad bad bad!!!!
Link Posted: 6/25/2002 5:43:23 AM EDT
Originally Posted By flashooter: Obviously none of you guys have done any driving in south Florida during the winter time....bad bad bad bad!!!!
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Nail. Head. Ya got that right! Friggin q-tips!
Link Posted: 6/25/2002 5:53:52 AM EDT
No state or country has a monopoly on shitty drivers. They flourish and multiply in all states and countries. The absolute worst drivers I've ever seen were in Taiwan.
Link Posted: 6/25/2002 6:02:52 AM EDT
I saw the worst drivers in Italy... but here in the states, bad drivers are everywhere. I would think in California, with all the damn liberals, logic wouldn't be too common place, and driving requires logic. Liberal = less logic, and less logic = bad driver? Liberal = bad driver? [:P]
Link Posted: 6/25/2002 6:15:34 AM EDT
Hey we got crappy drivers here in northern VA, don't forget about us [:P]
Link Posted: 6/25/2002 6:25:48 AM EDT
Originally Posted By 5subslr5: No state or country has a monopoly on shitty drivers. They flourish and multiply in all states and countries. The absolute worst drivers I've ever seen were in Taiwan.
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I think bad driving is the norm in the far east. I've been to the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Hong Kong and the drivers are just atrocious. The problem in AZ is all the retired folks living there that feel safer driving in the fast lane.
Link Posted: 6/25/2002 8:16:04 AM EDT
The states I've been to I figured Texas is the worst. Only place I've seen where people driving on the sidewalk is seen as ok...
Link Posted: 6/25/2002 8:20:33 AM EDT
Originally Posted By CaptainSanity: How hot was it in Phoenix? There are strange rumblings in the back of my head about escaping this socialist hellhole, but I'm not sure about the heat of AZ (this coming from someone who grew up in Bakersfield, which itself is known for warm summers...and crappy air).
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It was about 108 when we were there. Would "cool" off to about 90 at night. It was actually very pleasant. Don't think I would want to be doing yard work but it was great vacation weather. Even my heat wuss wife didn't really mind it. Of course it would probably get old by October, and when the humidity goes up during the monsoon season. They are in the middle of a crappy ass drought right now, too, which is one of the things that has exacerbated the fires. If you really hate the heat there is Flagstaff up in the mountains. In all reality though, we will probably end up in Nevada somewhere in the Washoe Valley just so we could be closer to family and my wife can be near the snow which she loves.
Link Posted: 6/25/2002 8:43:04 AM EDT
Link Posted: 6/25/2002 8:48:29 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Paul: California drivers have risen to a whole new level of bad driving....
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Amen to that. Things started going rapidly downhill in the late '70s with large influxes of New Yawkers and people from other countries. (I'd name names but probably get accused of being racist.) Once it became unfashionable to use turn signals, chaos was inevitable. There are basically two kinds of drivers on CA freeways - Good, polite ones who respect others and use lanes properly, and shitheads.
Link Posted: 6/25/2002 9:04:53 AM EDT
Whomever told you that hasn't driven in Ohio lately. I frequently drive to all parts of the state and I am astonished by how many idiots manage to get drivers licences. I'm really starting to think they really are putting them into Cracker Jack boxes.... BTW- They do all use the turn signal, but think they can cut you off just bacause they signaled a split-second before they cut you off.
Link Posted: 6/25/2002 9:27:00 AM EDT
Los Angeles Times: Confronting Roadblocks en Route to Driving Legally [url]http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-000044332jun25.story?coll=la%2Dheadlines%2Dcalifornia[/url] BEHIND THE WHEEL Confronting Roadblocks en Route to Driving Legally The language barrier and different cultural attitudes make attaining a license a challenge for new immigrants. By LISA LEFF SPECIAL TO THE TIMES June 25 2002 Where Ann Cheung comes from, people drive on the left side of the street. They don't worry about maintaining a safe distance from the car in front of them. They don't look over their shoulders to see whether another motorist is cruising in their blind spot. Where Cheung comes from, the roads are narrow. Merging lanes, bicycle lanes and turning lanes don't exist. Perhaps that is why the Hong Kong native, 38, failed her first driving test when she tried to get her California license at the Department of Motor Vehicles office in Santa Monica earlier this month. Although she had taken 19 hours of lessons from a Los Angeles driving school beforehand, had been a licensed driver in her own country for 10 years and speaks English well, Cheung said she couldn't always understand the grouchy test examiner's instructions. "Because you are nervous, it's harder. It's not like doing it in your mother tongue," she said, still mortified at the test's outcome. "The inspectors should realize, 'Hey, they are not from here. They need clear directions.' " Learning to control a motor vehicle and master the rules of the road are hard enough if you're a teenager who has grown up riding the freeways and has lane changes and rolling California stops coded into your genes. But what if you're a foreign-born adult who has spent years driving under dramatically different conditions or, even more daunting, never driven at all? Yet every year, thousands of new arrivals in Los Angeles find themselves in that situation when they move to a city where cars are not only a cultural icon, but can be crucial to economic survival. "Our driving environment in California, with the multi-lanes, is different from most every other environment outside the U.S.," said Robert Stall, an officer of the Driving School Assn. of California and owner of the San Fernando Valley's Dollar Driving School. "When you are talking about surface streets that have three or four lanes in each direction, and when you consider that many countries have single-lane highways where the drivers really never need to make a lane change, it can be quite a shock for people." -- continued --
Link Posted: 6/25/2002 9:27:56 AM EDT
Stall said the nonnative students who seek training at his school come from all over the world. They range from experienced Western European and Middle Eastern drivers who need to be "re-educated" in skills such as observing speed limits and scanning the road for hazards, to low-income Central Americans and Eastern Europeans who "have never driven a day in their lives, or maybe never even been in a car," he said. For those in the latter category, obtaining a license can be a long process. New adult drivers, especially those from other countries, must sometimes take and retake the written and behind-the-wheel tests half a dozen times before they pass, said George Hensel, president of the California Driving School, the region's largest. "The foreign-born has not only all the problems that the regular driver has in learning how to drive, but they also have problems overcoming the language differences," Hensel said. "A simple sign that says something like 'Shoulder Work Ahead' can be very confusing. You have to explain, what is a shoulder? Obviously, these are all problems that can be overcome with training and with time, but it does take time." To assist foreign-born drivers in securing licenses, the DMV translates its traffic-law manual into five languages--Spanish, Tagalog, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean. The written test all drivers are required to pass before taking their behind-the-wheel exam is available in more than 30 languages, including Hmong, Arabic, Polish, Japanese, Italian and Hindi. The road test, on the other hand, is a different story. "During the drive test, applicants need to be able to read signs in English," said Armando Botello, a DMV spokesman. Bilingual test examiners are permitted to speak to applicants in their native languages. "However, they have to make sure [the applicants] understand the signs that are in English," Botello said. Southern California is home to dozens of driving schools that cater to immigrants. The Santa Monica-based Pacific Japan Driving School, for instance, specializes in teaching both young Japanese adults who are attending college in California and Japanese housewives who are known as "paper drivers" because they were licensed in Japan but never drove, having lived in crowded cities where cars were impractical. Hiromi May Hayashi, the school's owner, said that because many traffic signs use symbols that are universal, her students generally have an easy time following them. What is difficult for them, however, is getting used to driving on the opposite side of the road from what they are used to. "They often put the window wiper on instead of a winker signal by mistake," she said. One of the largest schools offering bilingual drivers' training is Ford Driving School in Hollywood, where the staff includes instructors fluent in Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese. Fernando Rees, the owner, estimates that half his students are newcomers to America and says those with previous driving experience can be the toughest to teach. -- continued --
Link Posted: 6/25/2002 9:28:54 AM EDT
"It's hard, very hard for them to understand that the laws here are made to be followed to the letter, because in many countries, they are not followed at all," Rees said. "The mechanical part is easy. Rules you can learn. But the attitudes have to be changed, and that is very difficult." Like Cheung, most immigrants who sign up for driving lessons are adult women, according to several driving school instructors. Many come from countries where driving is considered either too dangerous or improper for women, or from rural provinces where everyone but the very rich gets around on bicycle or on foot. "It's very hard, because they never imagined they would drive here, or in Mexico, or anywhere else," said Enrique Gallegos, owner of Expo Driving School in Huntington Park. "They get to a point where they realize you have to drive here. You need a car to get around, to take the children to school, to go shopping and everyday things like that." That was the case for Isti Budihati, 27, who moved to California from Indonesia a year ago. Budihati never learned to drive in her country--"It's too crazy for women to drive"--and relied on her father, brother or boyfriend to get around. Her mother didn't drive either. "All the men drive, not the women. The woman is just a passenger," she said. Weary of riding buses and begging rides from her roommates, Budihati decided it was time to overcome her fears and cultural stereotypes and sign up for driving school. She had her first lesson last week and hopes to be driving on her own by midsummer. Getting her license "means everything," she said. "I'll be independent. I won't have to depend on somebody else for the small things. When I can drive myself anytime I want, that's good." Although the DMV does not track the number of California license holders who are from other countries, foreign-born motorists include another class of driver: illegal immigrants who are driving without licenses because they cannot get them. When they apply for their licenses, newcomers to California are required to furnish either a Social Security number or, if they are here as students, a letter from the Social Security Administration explaining that they are ineligible. In September, the state Legislature approved a bill that would remove that requirement and allow individuals who are in the process of legalizing their immigration status to be licensed. Similar legislation, sponsored by Assemblyman Gilbert Cedillo (D-Los Angeles), was vetoed two years ago by Gov. Gray Davis, who is negotiating with Assembly leaders about the fate of the new bill, said David Galaviz, Cedillo's legislative aide. Hensel of the California Driving School says he supports the change as a way to make roads safer. "If they can't get a license, we can't train them, and this forces a lot of people who came here illegally to learn from a friend or somebody else, or even worse, to get behind the wheel without any training at all," he said. -- continued --
Link Posted: 6/25/2002 9:30:07 AM EDT
Hensel also supports revising DMV rules to require new adult drivers to receive the same classroom instruction that teenage drivers must undergo. "In the case of somebody born here, they feel it's their natural, God-given right to have that license," he said. "In the case of the foreign-born, in many cases they never thought they would be able to obtain one. To them, it's more than a status symbol. It's more like, 'I've arrived.' " Four days after failing her first driving test, Cheung was back behind the wheel at the Santa Monica DMV. This time, she got a different examiner, a man who greeted her with a smile and a handshake and immediately put her at ease. "She shouldn't have any problems," her California Driving School teacher, Oscar Hunt, said as they pulled away. "She knows how to drive, but basically she didn't drive enough before, so we had to brush up on things like parking and lane changes." Twenty minutes later, Cheung was back in the DMV parking lot, wearing a broad smile and waving a test paper with "Excellent!" handwritten across it. "This inspector, he was very friendly. Not like the other one. It made a big difference," she beamed. * If you have questions, comments or story ideas about driving in Southern California, please write to behindthewheel@latimes.com. If you want other stories on this topic, search the Archives at latimes.com/archives. For information about reprinting this article, go to www.lats.com/rights. Copyright 2002 Los Angeles Times
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