San Diego is certainly a beautiful place with plenty of great attractions, but even the most avid supporter of the city must admit that the traffic and driving conditions can be somewhat challenging at times. In a comparison of the top 75 metropolitan areas in the U.S., San Diego ranked #5 for the worst drivers in the nation, behind only Sacramento, Salt Lake City, Riverside, and Richmond.

These rankings were determined by examining data related to traffic citations, accidents, DUI cases, parking tickets, and other indicators of driver skill. Of course, any time you’re driving in an area where there’s a higher-than-average number of bad drivers, it’s important to be prepared. With that said, here are four quick tips that will help you minimize your chances of an accident while driving in San Diego:

1. Don’t Assume Other Motorists Will Drive Properly

As mentioned, San Diego drivers don’t necessarily have the best reputation for following the rules of the road. If someone runs a red light/stop sign or changes lanes illegally, you’ll need to be prepared to respond accordingly. The biggest mistake you can make in any major city is assuming that other drivers will yield, stop or move like they’re supposed to.

Anyone living within one of the nation’s worst driving cities should consider the benefits of taking a defensive driving course. If you’ve already been victimized by the incompetence of another driver, you should probably compare San Diego car accident lawyers to obtain maximum compensation for your insurance claim.

2. Drive in Lane 3 on the Freeway

The majority of freeways in the San Diego area have four lanes, with the furthest lane to the right being lane four and the furthest lane to the left being lane one. Statistics released by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) indicate that lane three – the second to the right lane – is the safest place to drive. This lane experiences the least accidents and congestion because most drivers tend to be moving slowly in anticipation of reaching their exit soon, as opposed to the dangerously fast lane one.

3. Always Leave Space Between You and the Next Driver

In some areas around San Diego, even lane three will be heavily crowded because large trucks tend to use this lane. Be sure to allow ample following distance – one car length for every 10 MPH you’re driving – to prevent traffic congestion and allow for sufficient breaking distance. Driving too closely behind the vehicle in front of you is one of the leading causes of accidents and is also the most avoidable.

4. Try to Memorize Your Route

Relying solely on the spur-of-the-moment directions given by your GPS system might not be the best approach when driving in San Diego. To avoid dangerous distractions, take a look at your route before departing and try to memorize each step so that you’ll be better prepared to make each turn without diverting your attention from the road to look at the GPS screen.

Choose the Right Times of Day for Commuting

As a bonus tip, if you can help it, try to avoid the rush hours of 7:30 to 10:30 AM for southbound and 3:30 to 6:30 pm for northbound lanes.

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