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VICE Guide To Los Angeles

Traffic Tips for Tourists (and Transplants)

First and foremost, you must have a car in LA. If you visit, you must rent a car. Cabs are laughably expensive and no one wants to drive your sorry ass around everywhere. Walking is out of the question
January 1, 2000, 12:00am

First and foremost, you must have a car in LA. If you visit, you must rent a car. Cabs are laughably expensive and no one wants to drive your sorry ass around everywhere. Walking is out of the question.

When is there ever not traffic in LA, you ask? Basically never. A couple of errands can take, like, five hours. But there are ways around this. There are places, areas, and landmarks to avoid at all costs (Hollywood Bowl) because the traffic can get so dense it will have you either crying in your car as you blast Unsane, or screaming, “Fuck off, you motherfucking cocksucker!” at the poor 75-year-old man who can’t figure out that yes, indeed, you can turn right on red and you are supposed to run red lights when turning left (since left-hand turn signals rarely exist in this town).


People drive like maniacs here; it’s not for the timid. You have to be aggressive or a 15-minute trip will take you an hour. You never go the speed limit—always above. You run red lights and, terrifyingly enough, everyone drives drunk because public transportation is a joke. Cabs will not pick you up on the street even if you stand in the middle of the road with your tits out, waving frantically. It’s illegal. So you have to plan ahead and call a cab when you want one. Who does that? It’s 2 AM, you’ve had 17 drinks, and you’re gonna try to call a cab and leave your car in the parking lot across from the bar where it’s sure to get either towed or broken into? One time we did that and the next day it was locked into the lot. Like, the gate was closed and there was a chain with a padlock on it. Fortunately we knew the bartender across the street and got him to cut it open with bolt cutters, a true federal offense. But you probably won’t be so lucky. Solution? Let your sober friend drive. There are a lot of sober people in LA, too, ’cause it’s trendy and they can pick up hot chicks with daddy issues at AA meetings.


Always turn right on red, stupid.

Always pull into the middle of the intersection when attempting to turn left and run the red light. The general rule is two cars per red light.

Do not, under any circumstances, drive between the hours of 4 PM and 7 PM. You will slit your wrists. If this is unavoidable, save up all your phone calls for the day and make every single one of them as you idle on Pico.


As tempting as it is, be judicious in honking at or flipping off other drivers. LA drivers think they are always right and you are always wrong. Sometimes they will try to run you off the road, get out of their car and start screaming at you, or pull a gun. Also, it sucks when you flip off the idiot in front of you, only to sort of die when you see it’s your uptight boss.

Do not go the speed limit unless there is a cop around. You’ll just hold up all the traffic.

Speaking of cops, LA cops will give you a reason to be terrified of them. Unlike your average soft, balding Mayberry sheriff, LA cops are buff and tan and chiseled and tough and can outrun Usain Bolt. Girls, that cute little blink/“Sorry, officer”/giggle thing doesn’t work; these are men of steel, much like Terminator, and they will beat your ass faster than you can say “Rodney King.”

Know the roads with potholes and the roads that are rough terrain. This is one of the only times you DO want to go the speed limit. LA potholes are beasts, practically sinkholes. Run over one of those and there go your shocks and tailpipe.

Keep in mind that LA streets have no rhyme or reason. The city is not gridded like a lot of major cities.

It’s pronounced “Lah See-in-uh-guh,” not “Lah See-a-nay-gah.” Also: “Seh-puhlv-uh-duh,” not “Seh-puhl-vay-da.” K? Thanks.

Don’t call the freeways “highways” or refer to them by their proper name (“So, what highway do I take? The Hollywood Highway?”). It’s always: the 101, the 405, the 91, the 5, the 10, the 60, the 110, the 118, etc. There are a couple of exceptions: the Pomona Freeway and the Ventura Freeway.