Out of State Drivers (Californians in Arizona)


Living in Arizona we are exposed to plenty of home grown insanity on the roads. I have come to expect that people will often do dumb, dangerous maneuvers at will. Speeding excessively, unsafe left turns (often to deliver their spawn to school), and even some running of red lights that are more than just blushing.

But in the last few days, I have seen some of the worst driving by people with out of state plates. While the locals will whinge about the New Mexico transplants, the trophy goes to California drivers.

There are plenty of examples but a few that I have seen are:

  • Going under the speed limit on the freeway. I suspect this is due to concern that they are targeted by the po-po for extra enforcement. Alas, this is Arizona, where the only state that people driver faster in is Texas. If you are not doing 5 – 10 MPH over the posted speed, even in the slow lane, you are likely to be run over by a big rig. Seriously, keep up with the flow of traffic.
  • Using the HOV lane as a single occupant. I know that in California, your Prius entitles you to a sticker that allows you to use the HOV lanes without being a carpool (2 or more occupants), but here that don’t mean shit. I see lots of driver only, California plate, hybrids risking the HOV lane, and jumping out when they see a cop. Just don’t risk it.
  • Slowing down to merge. One of the things that drove me nuts about living in California was the fact that people accelerate on the on-ramps, and then jam on their brakes before merging. Here is a clue: use the on ramp to match your speed with the traffic, then merge into the traffic smoothly. Yet, yesterday, coming back from the airport, I was behind a pickup with California plates that accelerated up the on-ramp, and then slowed to 20 mph below the traffic speed. Argh, asshole, just f*cking merge dammit.
  • Running red light for left turns. I know in California that intersections plan for there to be 2 – 3 cars to turn left after a left turn light goes red. But here, that just doesn’t work. Us redneck hillbillies like to jackrabbit start and we don’t have patience for idiots blocking the intersection trying to not have to wait a full cycle. Of course, the Californian believes they can just “make it through” and all will be OK. Yet I see lots of gnarly accidents on my way to work, often caused by this practice.

The key to driving with out of state plates in a foreign state is to blend in, and not do dumb things. While most of the rules of the road are shared among the states, there are enough formal differences, as well as enough cultural differences to trip up even the most savvy driver.

Learn to blend. If you are used to being aggressive, stop being aggressive. If you are used to some “slack” by the local authorities, don’t expect that courtesy.

And most importantly, don’t be an asshole driver.

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By geoffand

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February 2014

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