Our Own DMV Rules: Look, since Santa Barbarans insist on their own rules of the road and not the DMV laws, it’s time to put them in print. (Please understand that I am not advocating tossing the California Department of Motor Vehicles handbook in the trash. Face it, by and large we already have. I am just pointing out what we do every day in practice, and, of course, risk tickets, injury accidents, road rage, and mayhem.)
Here are the main ones to know:
1. Do not use your turn signals under any circumstances.
• We are too cool to signal. Sure it’s rude and dangerous not to, but so what? Besides, how can you shift, talk on your cell phone, and flip the turn signal at the same time?
2. Do not stop at stop signs unless there is already another vehicle in the intersection.
• We are too busy rushing off to the coffee shop or Paseo Nuevo to waste time. So what if another car has arrived first and has the right of way? If you can bully your way out first, why not do it? Motto: No cop, no stop.
3. If you see a handicapped person or woman with a child in a stroller waiting to cross the street, just blow on by.
• Let them wait for a break in traffic. Yeah, yeah, there’s a law requiring drivers to stop for pedestrians waiting at intersections, but so what? Let Gov. Schwarzenegger come down and enforce the law.
4. Ignore all speed signs.
• Sure it’s a small city and there’s no need to rush around on our narrow streets. But we’re busy people, taking the kids to school, hitting the sales – or hitting the bars. Look, we have people who’ve paid $50,000+ to get some horsepower under their hood; should they be puttering along at 25 mph? Come on.
• Folks, we are living in Fantasy Land if we think people aren’t drinking and driving from Cabrillo Blvd. all the way out to the Northside. Drive from lower State to La Cumbre Plaza and just count the number of people in restaurants and bars with glasses of booze poised at their lips. Do you really think they’re planning to call at taxi or walk home? How many designated drivers do you notice sitting around in a corner waiting to ferry the boozers back to their respective houses? Now I definitely do not advocate dulling one’s senses with alcohol, then getting behind the wheel and charging around town. But believe me, folks are out there doing it – lots of them. I remember an ex-Santa Barbara cop telling me about watching a guy lurch out the back door of an upper State St. bar, fall down, crawl to his car, struggle to get in, and drive off. I guess the theory here is that, if you’re lucky, cops will nail some other guy.
• You’re still in that big rush and that darn car ahead of you is – for some insane reason – obeying the speed limit. Let Los Olivos have ’em if they want to go 25 mph. To tailgate, you’ll need to get your front bumper as close to his back bumper as humanly possible, forcing him or her to pull over: without hitting the other car, of course. At night, blast him with your brights. Sure it’s dangerous, but again, so what?
This is just some of the risky stuff Santa Barbarans do routinely. It’s odd, too, because we think of our home as a genteel, polite town. The other day, Sue and I were driving on East Valley Rd. with a late model car behind us, the driver apparently desperately wanting to get past us. So when we got to San Ysidro Rd., the older guy at the wheel pulled to the right, into the turning lane, then shot out ahead of us.
Sure all this stuff is crazy, reckless, and dangerous. I just wish Santa Barbarans would go back to obeying the stodgy, old, DMV-imposed rules of the road. The life you save might be mine, or my great-granddaughter Briana.
Barney Brantingham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 805-965-5205. He writes online columns on Tuesdays and Fridays and a print column on Thursdays.