Everything You Need to Know About Stress-Free Driving in Los Angeles

October 30, 2018US Cities

If you’re planning a move to the famous City of Angels and considering the option of driving in Los Angeles, besides imagining how amazing it’s going to be, please don’t ignore the importance of following the rules. It can save you from any legal trouble and, most importantly, ensure a stress-free experience.

Music-Related and Other Safety Rules

From operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, or using cell phones and earbuds to smoking in the car, there are quite a few things regulated by safety rules. Although sometimes annoying, safety laws are there to secure our lives and make hours on the road as comfortable as possible.

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Using Cell Phones and Listening to Music While Driving

  • Cell Phones have become a necessity, especially today, in the era of smartphones. We don’t use our phones just to make calls or send messages as we once did; mobile phones have been incorporated in every aspect of our lives – from mobile apps reminding us to drink our daily dose of water to sending emails and finishing almost all job-related tasks.

However, when driving in Los Angeles, or in any place on Earth for that matter, you should eliminate the usage of the mobile phone. If you can’t convince yourself, there are legal requirements that will remind (or force) you to do so.

What the Law Says: While operating a vehicle on the streets of California, drivers have to use hands-free devices if they want to make or receive phone calls. On the other hand, any kind of text-based communication, like reading or sending emails or short messages, is strictly prohibited by the law. If you use a GPS, don’t worry, it is allowed, as well as other mapping services.

  • For many, music is a vital part of everyday life, including hours spent in the vehicle. Because of that, it is crucial to know what the legal requirements are when enjoying the tunes of your favorite song in the car.

You are entitled to listen to the radio while being in your car. Just make sure that music is not too loud because it can affect your safety. Also, be careful and only change the station when you are sure that it is safe to do so.

What the Law Says: These days, many of us use headphones or earbuds to listen to music. However, it is against the California Law to use headphones while being on the road. On the other hand, the use of earbuds was illegal at first, then became legal, but the last amendment of the law says that you can only use one earbud while leaving one ear exposed to assure a safe drive.

Influence of Alcohol

The Law is clear – no alcohol in the vehicle. Even if you are sitting in the passenger seat, no alcohol should be in the car. On the other hand, when it comes to drivers, the legal blood alcohol limit is 0.08%. Still, you can get charged if the check shows that you drank alcohol before you sat behind the wheel.

Child Safety Regulations

In LA, the safety rules are particularly important when it comes to having kids in your car. That’s why you should always think about how to assure a safe ride for your little passenger, and that means the following:

  • Kids under the age of eight should be secured in the back seat, whether in a booster or car seat.
  • Children under the age of eight, 4’9″ or taller, must be secured with the safety belt in the back seat.
  • Children who are eight or older should be adequately secured with the safety belt in the back seat or a required restraint system appropriate for child passengers.
  • Kids under the age of six should not be left alone in the car. Anyone who is twelve years old or older has to supervise them during their stay in the motor vehicle.
Man using a smartphone
Cellphones, cigarettes, and headphones are the things you should avoid while being in the driver's seat.

Other Fundamental Rules For Driving In Los Angeles

How many of you couldn’t wait to turn 16 and get a driver’s license? Exciting as it seems, operating a vehicle in LA is not just wind in your hair during hot summer days while your favorite song is on the radio.

Being a participant in the traffic requires a high level of responsibility and awareness that, with just one wrong step, we could jeopardize ourselves, the ones with us in the vehicle, and other drivers as well. That’s why the following rules are here to remind us how easy it is to have a stressless experience on the road if you act responsibly.

  • The maximum speed limit on city streets is 25 miles per hour, and on freeways, it is 65 miles per hour.
  • Even though each state has its own traffic rules, most Californian traffic laws are similar or the same as the ones throughout the country. So, like in the rest of the US, in California, traffic keeps to the right.
  • In all private cars, the usage of seat belts is required by state law.
  • Unless otherwise defined, a right turn on a red light after stopping is permitted.
  • HOV/Carpool lanes – Many Los Angeles freeways have one or more lanes at the far left. They are designated as HOV – High Occupancy Vehicle. Most of the lanes have limited access, meaning that you can only enter or exit if the double yellow line is broken.
  • Carpool lanes, most of them, require a minimum of two passengers in the car. If more passengers are required, the number is marked at the entrance. On the other hand, no matter how many people are in it, vehicle towing trailers are not allowed in the carpool lane.
  • On some freeways, toll lanes are double-purposed carpool lanes. They exist for the drivers who are alone in the vehicle but have Fastrak or other transponders.
Person driving a car
One of the best things you could do for yourself and others is to follow the rules of the road.

Parking Options in LA

If you are in the middle of choosing one of the best cars for city driving, don’t forget to get information about the parking options in LA. The good news is that finding a free spot on some of the LA’s flat-rate lots or garages shouldn’t be a problem.

If you need help, we suggest the LA Convention Center or LA Live. They only charge a flat rate between $3 and $5.

  • Valet – Some malls, theatres, hotels, and restaurants offer parking services, and most of them charge the same rate as a nearby garage or lot.
  • Meter parking rules, including rates, days, and time limits, vary by block. Some meters notify your attempt to park during the restricted time, so they will not accept your payment. Nowadays, coin-operated meters are replaced with ones that accept credit cards. In case you parked but don’t see a meter, try to find a curb to check for the number, which indicates that there is a Pay-Station where you could pay for the spot.
  • Free street parking is a standard option in LA’s less commercial urban neighborhoods and suburbs. Other options are residential areas and side streets, but residential areas sometimes require residential permits, so always look for the signs that point to the rule. You can also look for the signs that indicate sweeping street hours. Some free areas might have a couple of hours (one or two) time limit. Be careful with it because parking officers sometimes take note of license plates or mark tires. That’s why it is better to respect the time limitation.

Additional tips – To make the process of parking less stressful, find out the meaning of each curb color.

  • Red Curb means no stopping, standing/waiting, or parking at any time.
  • Yellow Curb means commercial loading only – with a commercial license plate, the limit is 30 minutes. Without it, it is 5 minutes. If not defined differently, the working hours are from Monday to Saturday, from 7 am to 6 pm.
  • Green Curb indicates that parking is short-term, between 15 and 30 minutes, with working hours, unless otherwise posted, from Monday to Saturday, between 8 am and 6 pm.
  • Blue Curb – Parking for disabled people or their drivers – a valid accessible parking placard or license plate is required.
  • White Curb means permission for passenger unloading and loading, not longer than 5 minutes.
parking permit zone
Use the parking option that best suits your needs.

Pedestrians Are Also Participants in Traffic

Being a driver means being focused and watching out for pedestrians as well. You might think that all locals in Los Angeles drive, but that is not entirely true. Actually, in many LA neighborhoods, walking is the lifestyle of locals.

If you don’t want to get a ticket or worse, injure someone, you must yield to pedestrians on the road. Keep it in mind, especially if you are a fresh driver and need car driving tips for beginners, that pedestrians have the right of way in intersections.

Imagine that crosswalks are present with or without the painted lines. Pedestrians have the right to cross at unmarked intersections unless there is a sign that says otherwise.

People driving on the road next to the beach
Someone walks to the beach; someone uses a car. If you are a driver, think about pedestrians.

Weekly Review of Traffic Jams

In Los Angeles freeways, the traffic is usually heavy during morning and evening commutes. On weekday mornings, LA rush hours are between 7 am and 10 am. On the other hand, the evening rush hours are between 4 am and 7 pm.

On a weekend night, traffic can be heavy when heading into or out of Hollywood or Downtown. It is advisable that, if it is possible when freeways are jammed, drivers use surface street routes as an alternative. In LA, a surface street is any street that is not an expressway or freeway.

man in the car
Traffic can be heavy on weekend nights, especially when heading in or out of Hollywood.

It’s All About the Names and Numbers of Freeways

Keep in mind that every Southern California freeway is designated with a number and name. The problem occurs, especially for tourists or people who are in California for the first time, when the name and number are not listed on the road sign. To help you out a little, we’ll list a few names and numbers of particular freeways:

  • Ventura Freeway, northwest of downtown LA, is 101
  • Hollywood Freeway is both 101 (south of downtown LA) and SR-170 (north of downtown LA)
  • Golden State Freeway, aka I-5 (north of Downtown LA)
  • Santa Ana is also I-5, but south of Downtown LA
  • San Diego is 405
  • PCH means the Pacific Coast Highway
Hollywood Freeway is both 101 and SR-170.

The Blessing Called GPS

If you don’t want to lose time on finding an alternative route or dealing with maps, use GPS and eliminate any chance for unnecessary driving stress. By using the advantages of GPS, you won’t have to worry about arriving late or getting lost while finding the location. Also, according to the California law, using GPS is permitted, so you will not get into any legal trouble, and that’s one worry less.

a couple in the car using phone
If this is your first time in LA and you want to find a lovely beach, make the search easier by using a GPS.

Now Is the Time for the Movie Scene

Remember when we said that being in a car in Los Angeles is not just wind in the hair during the hot summer days while your favorite song plays on the radio? Well, it could be. This is LA, after all.

You should have fun on the roads of Los Angeles, especially if you are planning a move to the famous City of Angels. In that case, every day will be a chance for a new experience. So, to fully explore the LA lifestyle, you are going to need your car. Therefore, before you relocate, make sure to find a reliable company and select the most convenient way of car shipping – open carrier or enclosed carrier.

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