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California Driving: Table of Contents


Jump straight to the first page of the guide, or pick and choose from the table of contents below...
 

    Essentials (A Brief Summary)If you read nothing else in this guide, you ought to at least know the essentials briefly discussed here...

    A California Primer California's a large place by European or East Coast standards, and spans a surprising variety of landscapes and cultures. Most foreigners probably think of palm trees, deserts, Hollywood, Disneyland, Bay Watch, and (maybe) Yosemite when they hear the word "California", but there's a bit more to it than that; including:
    Geography & Culture a few words on what makes California "California"
    The Weather — how not to freeze during a San Francisco summer, and how to deal with the endless warm blue skies during winter.
    Absolute Basics An assortment of fairly basic observations and tips about California, mostly for foreigners and people unfamiliar with California's ways, including:
    California-Speak Some help with understanding what Californians are saying — and how to help Californians understand you, including some help with those uniquely Californian words and pronunciations...
    The Law California's road rules and driving laws are mostly fairly sensible and unsurprising; it shouldn't take long for out-of-staters to master the important points:

    California Driving Habits & Quirks I can't pretend that bad driving is indigenous to or even unique to California (far from it), but it does seem to have much more than its fair share of lethally stupid, maliciously reckless, or just plain careless drivers. The sad fact about the worst California Drivers is that, as readers keep pointing out, they have all the attitude of the average Boston or New York driver, and none of the ability...

    Roads and Traffic California has a lot of roads. This is a guide to how to identify them, use them, and cope with the traffic encountered on them...

    Road Conditions (Fog, Rain, Snow, Ice) Road conditions vary enormously from day to day and region to region within California. Some roads span the state through desert, lush valleys, high mountain passes, and snow-covered plains; you may need both snow chains and air conditioning in the same hour while driving through areas like the Owens Valley. In mid-winter, you may even need snow chains to get across the mountains only 40 miles from the palm trees of downtown LA...

    Driving On the Wrong Side of the Road For Britons, Australians, Japanese, and the rest of us brought up to drive on the left hand side of the road, there's the added dimension of having to drive on the "wrong" side of the road in America…

    Parking You don't want to get clamped in San Francisco or towed in LA: some rules and rules-of-thumb for parking in California…

    Accidents and Breakdowns The three most important things to remember here are: 1) join the CSAA or ACSC so that towing is reasonably cheap and easy; 2) keep a mobile phone with you at all times; and, 3) try to avoid driving in a bad part of town so that you don't break down or have an accident there…

    Crime While California is a violent place (cities like Oakland, Richmond, East Palo Alto, bits of East LA., and Compton are among the murder capitals of America), as a tourist you are likely to be insulated from most of it. But don't be complacent…

    Useful Organizations You might find some or all of the organizations mentioned here useful…

    Maps, Atlases, & Guides — You can always plan your trip at leisure with Google Maps, but when you're actually out on the road and the laptop's dead or there's no WiFi within a hundred miles, or your GPS isn't working, a good paper backup is really useful….

    Desert Driving Don't be intimidated by the idea of driving through the desert there's nothing in California like the ordeals and rigors required to drive through the African, Asian, or Australian deserts, and the Californian deserts are beautiful, strange, and very accessible…

    Test Your California Driving IQ! So you think you're pretty au fait with California, its drivers, and its culture? Take this test and see how you do…

    Other Useful Sites — Some annotated links to other web sites you might find interesting or useful if you're driving or traveling in California….

    The Author — A few words on the Anglo-Australian Californian behind the Guide, and how to contact him…

    Gallery— A separate gallery of roadside images from around California and Nevada taken over the past twenty years or so…

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Text and images Copyright © 2012 Hamish Reid, Oakland California.