Driving on the wrong side

Aside from babysitting the cats, I enjoyed babysitting my friend’s 420 BHP Audi RS4. I’m insured on this car while they’re away on holiday, so that’s good to know.

Before I could drive it unsupervised I had a take a quick lesson in it with my friend in the car. The last time I drove a car over here was back in 2003, when I drove from the airport back to Santa Monica.

One thing I had to get used to was driving on the right hand side. It wasn’t too daunting to be honest, since I had been cycling to work regularly, therefore already familiarizing myself with the road system over here.

Drivers out here are aggressive, so expect changing lanes or pulling out of a driveway to take some time. They also like driving so close behind you. Unlike the UK, giving way to other motorists is rare.

A major difference to road layouts here are the width of roads. They are ‘wide’, most major roads will have up to 3 lanes in each direction. Residential areas tend to lack road markings in some places, and are usually made up of one lane in each direction. Motorways consists of up to 6 lanes or more in a single direction too! Imagine trying to hustle your way through heavy traffic when you want to get from the fast lane to an exit, that’s not easy.

Names of roads can go for many miles compared to the UK, for example, Santa Monica Boulevard is around 15 miles long and runs from Santa Monica Beach all the way to Hollywood. That’s why you get house numbers with insane figures like 10290. Boulevards tend to be the longest roads, followed by Avenues, then numbered streets.

You will also notice these roads are so straight for so many miles and roads are in a grid like fashion in cities. Boulevards and Avenues tend to run East / West, numbered streets tend to be North / South. If it wasn’t heavily congested here, you could travel the same distance faster here than in the UK.

There are a number of things they have here that you won’t see in the UK. Stop junctions, and making a right turn on a red light. Roundabouts do exist, but are rare in California.

It had been a few years since I had drove a manual geared car before so it took some getting used to, especially with the gear stick on the right hand side, that’s just plain wrong. I’m so used to having a lazy right elbow which I just perch by the window.

I’m hoping to take it out for another spin over the weekend to Malibu.

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