Friday, August 12, 2011

Lessons of a California Motorist

Have you ever seen the movie Under the Tuscan Sun starring Diane Lane (love her) and Raoul Bova? There is a line in that movie that makes me laugh every time I hear it when Diane's character (Frances) and Raoul's character (Marcello) are discussing traffic laws in Italy.

Frances: Do traffic lights mean anything around here?
Marcello: Yeah, sure. Green Light - avanti! avanti!, yellow light - decoration.
Frances: And what about red light?
Marcello: Just a suggestion.

Mom and I found out on our 2008 trip to Italy that these words ring truer than any I have ever heard about the country or the people living there. Cinzia, our fearless motorbike riding, leather boot wearing, massively awesome tour guide in Rome told us before crossing the busy street to the Vatican: 
"Do not look up. Under any circumstances, do not make eye contact."
We learned quickly that if you were trying to cross and did make eye contact, you would likely lose a limb or two as the driver would barrel past you. Apparently, they have a bit more sympathy if you seem unaware.

While I wouldn't compare motorists in California to the likes of those motor bikes lining the streets of Rome with a horn and a death wish, I would say that driving here is a whole other experience altogether. Here are my five best tips for surviving the streets of SoCal. 

Taken on our first few hours here.

1.) U-turns are totally legal.
Yeah it's pretty awesome, actually. 

Courtesy of Google Images.

2.) Speed limits seem unnecessarily fast.
I'm not talking about on the highways or toll roads (the US-5 is a steady 65 MPH). What I do mean is the commercial streets around the city of Carlsbad. The speed limit along these roads are usually around 55 MPH. While this may not seem like a lot, let me equate it to driving on South Congress (in Austin) or South Market Street (in Brenham). 
Yeah, pretty wild. 

Courtesy of Google Images
3.) Cameras capture your every move. 
Make certain that your brakes are in good working order. You will need them. There are a TON of traffic lights.

Courtesy of Google Images.

4.) Cell phones prohibited.
We were told on our first day here that law enforcement has really started cracking down on this one. 
It's a LOT harder than you might think to not just pick up your phone and call someone, even for something as minor as "are we out of Oreos milk?"

Courtesy of Google Images.

5.) Motorcycle privileges. 
I'm not sure I will ever get used to this one. Motorcycle drivers can (and will) cut you in line at the stop light or zoom past you on the road using the white line as their own personal lane. It scares me every time, hence the reason I like to drive in the far left or right lanes and hug the outside curve. Call me a granny, but I take no chances!

There you have it. Five tips for not wigging out while operating a motor vehicle in the state of California. Lessons learned the hard way. 


We have a fun weekend planned! Checking out some future housing on Saturday (woohoo!) and going to see The Help on Sunday. (It was my weekend to pick the flick... I think that is totally doable considering I had to sit through two hours of alien guts and really bad old west jargon in Cowboys and Aliens last weekend!)

Hey, at least I'm not making him see Glee3D...
...despite the fact that I reeeaaalllllllly want to see it!

What are you guys doing this weekend?


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