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by Bernadette Yarnot

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Damned California Drivers

One of the things I have learned from living in various states is that California drivers are the worst thing on the road, at least according to the inhabitants of those states. They're blamed for the worst excesses on the road, and a California license plate makes a car a target for ridicule on a high level. (This is probably only true in the western half of the US, I know.)

This has always annoyed me to a high degree because not only am I a good driver from California (no tickets or accidents since I received my license eight years ago), but the problems I see on the road tend to be extremely localized. The sorts of things that are problems in one area are not problems in another, and I sincerely doubt that California drivers are, as a group, bad only in the particular manner of the area.

In Spokane, it was running red lights. In Denver, it is driving on things that are not lanes (such as shoulders or even grassy medians), lack of turn signals, and a generalized impatience that leads to tailgating and speeding. (A co-worker told me that's too involved, and Denver drivers are "just plain rude.") The worst single example of driving I ever saw was in desert Utah, where a pickup pulled out on the highway in front of my mom (she had to stand on the brakes to keep from rear-ending him, and there wasn't a car behind her from miles), proceeded at 20 miles below the speed limit, signalled right, moved into the left lane, and made a right turn from the left lane. Strangely enough, the Colorado drivers around here don't know how to handle snow (they blame Californians, naturally.)

I grew up in Sacramento, where there are thousands upon thousands of drivers on the road every day. I am of the opinion that there are, in fact, a high number of bad Californian drivers, but that's only natural as California has the highest population of any state in the US. I think that interacting with those drivers on a daily basis on your way to and from work is a form of driving evolution. You either become better or you end up dead. Therefore, I think the good California drivers have a better chance of surviving stupidity on the road than those that rarley encounter those horrible California drivers.

Mostly this bothers me because it is another form of pushing the blame off on somebody else so that the person laying the blame does not have to take responsibility. I will someday rant on that but it will be a very, very long one.

(Sacramento drivers have their worst problems with driving in fog. There is a floodplain called the Yolo Bypass which creates zero visibility fogs, and both interstates cross it. The drivers don't slow down, and there is little more frightening than knowing that someone travelling 70 mph may be coming up behind you. The smart and the lucky stay home when it gets foggy.)

What's the worst driving you've ever seen?  Talk to me.

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