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Driving in California: Is It Better or Worse?

You’ve heard the horror stories about driving in California: the hours-long commutes, the frequent police chases, the street racing. But perhaps you wonder if these stories are actually true or that the situation has improved since California first got that reputation. Unfortunately, where there’s smoke, there’s fire and in this case, driving in California is not getting any better and may in fact be getting worse. 

Environmentally Friendly Policies Increase Road Congestion
Since the early 2000s, California has been at the forefront of developing policies designed to tackle climate change and other environmental hazards. As a result, state officials have turned their attention to these policies and neglected those that would positively impact road infrastructure. This isn’t by accident, according to critics. In fact, they contend that state officials are deliberately keeping the roads congested to encourage people to take other, more environmentally-friendly forms of transportation. 
By doing nothing to address California commute times and road conditions and forcing people to take other forms of transportation, the administration can claim that fewer drivers are on the roads at any one time. Therefore, there’s no need to introduce policies that target infrastructure. They can focus on environmental laws and create the congestion situation they resolve by default when people get fed up with traffic.

Speeding and Reckless Driving Are on the Rise
Since the pandemic, speeding and reckless driving are increasing not just in Californica, but across the country as well. This can be traced back to the empty roads of the pandemic, when people who still had to drive felt much safer speeding along roads that had no traffic. These drivers have not reverted back to their pre-pandemic more cautious driving behaviors, which is resulting in more and deadlier car crashes. Until or unless people slow down and drive more safely, California will continue to be a hazardous place to drive.

Distracted Driving Has Become a Major Problem
Distracted driving has long been an issue, particularly since the proliferation of mobile phones. But one would think that drivers know that distractions increase their risks of getting into an accident and they absolutely do. They just don’t care. And, it isn’t just teenagers who are texting while driving or watching videos as they cruise the highway. Adults are just as guilty as younger drivers, and are in fact even worse to an extent because they believe they have enough experience to handle the distractions.
There are also many other distractions both inside and outside of the vehicle that lead to inattentive driving, including eating while driving, eye-catching digital billboards lining the highways, and in-vehicle entertainment systems that can pull the driver’s attention away from their duty to keep their eyes on the road and their ears peeled for unexpected hazards. While driving is never going to be distraction free, it seems like it’s getting much worse and nothing is being done to curb the problem.

It’s clear that driving in California is not getting better and may even be getting worse. But, it’s not any different for other states. And California residents take heart: there are three states that have worse drivers than you, so even though the Golden State has a bad reputation for driving, it’s not the worst.

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