la sunset

Driving in LA – Tips for Stress-Free Commuting in Los Angeles

Written by: Grace Gray

Whether you’re moving from LA suburbs to the downtown area or you just got your license in the City of Angels, you’re in for the fifth-most intense traffic in the country with congestion snaking for miles. But, there are some tips and tricks you can use to make your driving in LA stress-free, and we decided to share them with you.

Is It Hard Driving in Los Angeles?

Well, it’s no picnic, as LA keeps ranking amongst those with the worst traffic in the country. The city spreads over 503 square miles and, as with any metropolis, there are lots of freeways, huge traffic, congestion, and sometimes it seems that the rush hour never ends. Yet, people drive in LA, and you’ll be able to do it too when you learn the ropes of how to drive in Los Angeles.

Ready To Move? Get Free Estimate

Angelenos Measure Distance in Time, Not Miles

The fact that something is 10 or 20 miles away doesn’t mean much due to the heavy traffic, so you’ll typically hear Angelenos measuring the distance of something in time, rather than miles. They say something is an hour or two hours away because that’s how long it will take you to get there. Angelenos plan their life around transit and you will too if you’re just starting to drive or moving from one of the best suburbs of Los Angeles to the city center, so factor that in when you decide where to live in Los Angeles and check out our Los Angeles neighborhood guide.

A highway in LA, California
Angelenos plan their life around transit.

Navigating the Freeways in LA

The freeways in LA are wide with many lanes and lots of traffic, and they can seem scary to some. The key here is to know your lanes – slower transit is on the right (that’s where the exits usually are), and faster transit is on the left. The leftmost lane is the carpool lane, intended for only commuters with two or more passengers traveling in the car. And that’s two people if you are moving with pets – dogs don’t count. For more information on rules regarding these lines, check out the Department of Transportation website.

If the Freeway Is Too Stressful, Stay Out of It and Stick to Surface Roads

If you don’t feel comfortable driving on the freeway, you can stay on surface roads as an alternative or for starters if you don’t mind that they’re usually slower. You can take the CA2 to get from Hollywood neighborhoods to Santa Monica or choose the ‘avoid freeway’ option on your smartphone app for tips.

If you feel intimidated by the freeway, choose surface roads instead.

Watch out for Motorcyclists – Lane Splitting is Common

Lane splitting is legal for motorcyclists throughout California and very common in LA. That means that they are allowed to drive between the lanes, and two motorcycles are allowed to share the same lane at the same time. So, watch out for motorcycles while you’re switching lanes. There are also many e-scooters on the road as they are banned from sidewalks, so watch out for them, too.

E-scooter on the street
You’ll see lots of e-scooters on the streets of LA.

Parking Has Been Called a ‘Blood Sport’

So much so that valet parking started in LA! And it’s also expensive – it can set you back from $5 to $30, depending on the time of the day and the place. Free street parking is available in the suburbs and less commercial areas, but don’t expect to find a free spot in Hollywood. Meters are the most affordable option for most areas, and most have been replaced to accept credit and debit cards. The most important thing is to pre-plan your routes, know your destinations, and research your parking options in advance.

Know Your Curb Colors – This Is Important

White or no color curb means you are allowed to park (unless stated otherwise). Let’s check out the other colors:

  • Red curb – no parking.
  • Green curb – parking for a limited time only.
  • Yellow curb – loading and unloading, no parking.
  • Blue curb – parking for the disabled only.
Most parking meters accept credit and debit cards.

Best Tips for Stress-Free Driving

If you plan on living in Downtown LA, take a look at these tips that will help you navigate even the busiest streets of LA with ease:

  • Practice in car rental driving lots – this will shake off your anxiety and help you gain confidence
  • Use GPS or smartphone apps – they are a lifesaver in LA
  • Know the exact address and the name of the destination – having only the street name won’t help you, since streets spread for miles
  • People are not big on blinkers – many change lanes without using blinkers, so be attentive to avoid someone cutting in front of you without a warning
  • Leave early and allow extra time – transit is unpredictable in LA, so wherever you’re going, take that into consideration and leave early
  • Wear sunglasses – California is known as the sunny state, and that’s why we all love it, but to protect yourself from the sun rays while driving, you’ll want to wear sunglasses

Being a driver has its perks. For example, the scenic Beverly Hills route below:

Some Alternative Ways to Travel Around LA

Even though LA is famous as a car city, its public transport is extremely good and it’s an easy way to travel. It consists of Metro Buses, DASH Buses, and Metro Rail Trains. To use it, you’ll need a TAP card which you can get at any of the stations and the transportation is affordable. If you plan on living in Beverly Hills or the Hollywood area, you can also use the subway. It only has two lines and covers the downtown area. Other ways to get around in LA are taxis, rental cars, Uber, and motorcycles – mostly cars, as LA is not really a haven for cyclists.

A bus
Contrary to what many people think, LA has great public transport.

Enjoy the Scenic Rides While Professional Movers in Los Angeles Handle Everything Else

Before you start making your moving to-do list, consider hiring All In Moving – the best movers in LA to avoid the moving stress. We can do everything from packing your things safely to providing full residential moving services to your new LA home while you enjoy your moving away party or a cold one in one of your favorite breweries in Los Angeles.

Get free quote takes less than a minute.