Who drives in Los Angeles

Driving in SF


In contrast to Germany, driving a car in the USA is an experience! Nowhere else, apart from my first drive through Los Angeles, have I driven more relaxed than there!

Nevertheless, there are a few things that should not be ignored:

In the USA, when it comes to road traffic, things are very different from ours. So you have to get used to the fact that e.g. the traffic lights are not in front of, but in the middle of the intersection. This has the advantage that you can see the traffic light better ... if only it weren't for our "European custom" to always drive right up to the traffic light ... then watch out.

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American gas stations or how the hell do you get gasoline in the tank?

You shouldn't think it possible, but operating an American gas pump has almost drowned many tourists ...

Almost all petrol stations have Quick Cash. You can insert your credit card into the fuel pump. After checking it, the display shows - ok take nozzle - and refueling can begin. With some "old" fuel pumps, after taking out the fuel nozzle, you also have to flip a lever on the side of the column. It can also be the case that you have another frame from above in the frame in which the fuel nozzle is located pull down, or upside down, must. In any case, first try to see if the fuel is running, if not, there is a lever somewhere. In an emergency, ask a neighbor who is refueling.

If a ZIP code is requested after "Insert the card", then the zip code is meant (not the card pin number) and this is only possible with US cards. In this case, you take the card out again, take the card to the checkout room and, stating the pump number, deposit the KK and they then activate the column. If you don't like to lose sight of your card ... just deposit cash.

If there is no Quick Cash, you go to the cash desk and deposit the card. If only cash is accepted (only cash), then you go to the cash desk first and deposit e.g. US $ 20. If you don't need that much, you get the change back, otherwise it stops at US $ 20.

Differences to Europe in "normal" road traffic:

If you drive to an intersection without traffic lights, there are basically only stop signs and then you continue according to the principle that whoever came to the intersection first, drives off first.

Overtaking on the right is allowed and you should always expect the driver in front to suddenly change lanes.

If you drive on the right side of the road, you have to expect that this lane will suddenly turn into a right-turn lane. At the latest when you see the notice "this lane must turn right", you know that it is that time again ... and you have to turn right. If I didn't know exactly when to turn, I always stayed in the middle of the street.

However, there is one thing with the signage, because the American is very economical with it and before you know it you’re over. That is why it always means "keep your eyes open" and think along ... an intensive look at the map before a long journey, so good preparation always pays off.

Carpool Lanes:

Official name: HOV-Lane (High-occupancy vehicle lane) also known as Commuter Lane, Diamond Lane, Express Lane or Transit Lane. These are "fast" because there are often empty lanes on the US interstates / freeways. There is often a white "Carpool Lane" marked on the left-hand side and driving there is usually only allowed if at least two people are sitting in the vehicle.

Danger: In the greater San Francisco area, for example, this is only at at least 3 vehicle occupants allowed. There are fewer people sitting in the vehicle heavy fines! In other areas, the USA and Canada, it is therefore worth paying careful attention to the required "minimum number of occupants" for permitted use ...

In California, the top speed is 65 mph (65 miles per hour) which is approximately 104 km / hour. limited. In the case of speeding violations, the police intervene very quickly and the penalties are not without ...

So don't be surprised if you get a ticket after driving 10 ml / h too fast and the fine exceeds US $ 100 in most cases.

My good advice: Just accept the ticket and without discussion, otherwise you may receive a new one. However, it is then "a little" higher ...

You should be particularly vigilant if one of the yellow school buses appears in front of you. As soon as he switches on his hazard warning lights, it is forbidden to drive past ... even for oncoming traffic!

No matter in which direction, never drive past a school bus with the hazard warning lights switched on!

You are only allowed to drive past when the flashing lights are switched off, otherwise there will be really big trouble with the police.



Here again my tip:

If you have driven too fast once or have committed another traffic violation and a police patrol car drives behind you with "fixed lights" and switched on blue lights or sirens, then you should pull over as quickly as possible, turn off the engine and not leave the car. Sit in the car, open the side window and place your hands clearly visible on the steering wheel.

The officer / sheriff will always park his car behind yours and step into your car from behind and say what he wants. You then have to obey this and it is best to always do so in a friendly and friendly manner.

Never argue with a police officer, always stay calm and friendly.

The police in the USA are used to a lot and, as a precaution, usually have one hand on the gun. So don't make any hasty movements and never scare the officer ...

American policemen, too, "usually have the longer hand". But they are only human and usually very friendly and even particularly helpful!


If you ever have a breakdown:

In the event of a breakdown on a highway or freeway, you simply open the hood and indicate that you have a problem. You can either seek help yourself or you can wait for a police patrol to come by. However, you will be surprised how quickly the helpful American stops to help you.

Parking in California:

The colors of the curbs have the following meanings:

  • Red: no stopping at all
  • Yellow / Black: loading zone
  • Green: 10 minutes during normal business hours
  • Blue: only for the disabled
  • White: 5 minutes during normal business hours

In addition, you are never allowed to park in front of a hydrant, at bus stops or at exits. Please do not exceed the parking times because they will be carefully checked. The parking tickets for exceeding the parking time in the cities are not infrequently already after 5 minutes for 85, -US $ and you should never forget that!

Please do not forget:

Parking at parking meters in San Francisco:

Parking at the parking meters is a maximum of 2 hours and exceeding the parking time will result in a high fine ... Parking is also prohibited during street cleaning times. The fine for this is currently US $ 85, - (as of 01/2015)

You have to pay if not otherwise indicated:
on working days from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and on Sundays from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Wrong parking costs between 85 and 185 US $. Unauthorized parking in a disabled parking lot even amounts to US $ 1,000



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