Are you planning a trip to Los Angeles or are a first-time driver? Whether you’re hoping to spend the day at the beach or visit many eateries and museums, you’re bound to hit LA traffic. Driving in Los Angeles is a completely different ballgame. You could be cruising and suddenly enter an unfamiliar area, miss your exit, or get stuck in never-ending traffic.
While most locals are aware of the risks in the city and can navigate easily, it’s no secret that LA has a reputation for reckless driving and congested traffic. We want to help you have a positive driving experience, so here are a few tips for driving in Los Angeles for the first time.
Stick to surface streets
We know California is full of highways, freeways, and other “shortcuts” that allow us to get from one end of the city to the other. These roadways help us bypass traffic lights and other “inconveniences” while traveling.
If it’s your first time driving in Los Angeles, it’s best to stick to the surface streets. It may take longer for you to get somewhere due to the heavy traffic, but navigating major roads can be tricky without a local to guide you. Staying on the surface is a great way to avoid reckless drivers and multi-car accidents—the most common kinds of car accidents in California.
Tip: If you have to travel on the freeway, know the name and number of your exit before hitting the road.
Learn where to park
One of the most important tips for driving in Los Angeles for the first time is to learn where to park. If not, you will find your car on the back of a tow truck. If you’re lucky enough to find street parking, make sure it’s in a safe area near a working parking meter. These meters typically last two hours, so remember to add more time to the meter when the limit is near.
Leave earlier than usual
LA’s traffic can be very unpredictable and leave you idling for a long time. A four-minute trip to the pharmacy can turn into a 30-minute journey, so it’s essential to head out earlier than planned. Whether you have to deal with ongoing road construction, a car accident, or rush hour, don’t wait until the last minute to leave your home, Airbnb, or hotel.
Watch your surroundings
Being a defensive driver in LA is essential for ensuring your and your passengers’ safety. Pay attention to potholes, maintenance hole covers, reckless drivers, and other possible road dangers. Watch for pedestrians and cyclers who may be on the shoulder or behind your car. Lock your doors when leaving your vehicle, and don’t leave valuables exposed.