What we hate and what we love about California driving

Nightime skyline view of Los Angeles, California, looking north over the U.S. 101 (Hollywood) Freeway
Nightime skyline view of Los Angeles, California, looking north over the U.S. 101 (Hollywood) Freeway
Carol M. Highsmith, Retrieved from the Library of Congress

Driving in California was once joy-inducing. Look no further than The Beach Boys or The Doobie Brothers.

In 1958, there were just under 8 million registered vehicles sharing California's freeways. 

Today, the number of registered cars has nearly quadrupled; at the end of 2017 there were 35.4 million cars and trucks and trailers on the road.

Our freeway building hasn't kept up with the added traffic. No wonder our commutes can be slow, miserable slogs.

We asked what you hate and what you love about your commute. As you’d expect, there’s a whole lot of negative feeling out there.

People hate congestion. Construction. Parking. Inconsiderate drivers.

Nancy Lizza wrote in with her list of annoyances. 

People slow down when it rains, when the sun is out, when the sun dips, when the road curves to the left, and when it curves to the right.

James Rogers lives in Rancho Cucamonga and commutes to Simi Valley.

I hate the way people cut in and out of lanes without looking. I hate following someone who is going slower than traffic only to go around them and see them looking at their lap and their cell phone more than they are looking at traffic. And, I hate big trucks who don't wet down their loads so all their debris flies off the truck and breaks windows.

Robert Bittner hates the way long drives mean we all have less time to spend at our destinations.

And Robert Sharpe shared a country-western song he wrote to help with his driving stress. It's titled: "I'm Gonna Drive Slow, Slow, Slow to Mess You Up"

     
     I'm gonna drive slow, slow, slow to mess you up.
     I'm gonna drive slow, slow, slow in my pickup truck.
     I'm gonna drive slow down the hill
     Just for the thrill of
     Driving slow, slow, slow to mess you up!
     
     I'm gonna drive slow, slow, slow to mess with you!
     I'm gonna drive slow, slow, slow and you will too!
     You see it don't matter to me
     If you have an emergency,
     I'm gonna drive slow, slow, slow to mess with you!
     
     I'm gonna drive slow, slow, slow and that's my plan.
     I'm gonna drive slow, slow, slow just 'cause I can.
     You can fuss and cuss at me
     It just fills my heart with glee
     To drive slow, slow, slow
     Don't you know
     I'm gonna drive slow, slow, slow to mess you up!

But, it’s not all misery out there.

We love it when we hit all the green lights. When traffic is unexpectedly light. When another driver isn’t a jerk. Or even, more miraculously, is considerate!

Andrew Rippert wrote in to appreciate the unspoken rule of letting drivers turn left at red lights. 

Such a great, unspoken bit of politeness that is universally followed!

Ryan Andrus loves “driving early morning when there's no traffic and you get a nice sunrise.”

And Suzanne Elliott wrote in with a reason to love driving that a lot of parents will appreciate. 

I have two small children, so I actually look forward to the first 30 minutes of my morning commute after I drop them off at school and daycare because it's my ‘me time.’ I have my coffee and NPR and my thoughts... or just quiet.
    

Silver linings.

The California Dream series is a statewide media collaboration of CALmatters, KPBS, KPCC, KQED and Capital Public Radio with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the James Irvine Foundation.