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Driving in Los Angeles – Renting a car

by Sanne
Driving in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is a very large city and most people are surprised by the distances. There is no real city center as we are used to in Denmark, nor any pedestrian shopping areas except from Rodeo Drive and the likes. Without a car, getting around in LA can therefore be a troublesome affair.

However, with the appearance of Uber and other ride share services, you don’t necessarily need your own car, but if you’re planning to do longer excursions and day trips, renting a car still makes good sense. It is smooth and cheap to rent a car in USA, and Los Angeles is fairly easy to navigate, so nothing really speaks against getting some wheels. Most rental companies offer insurance covering loss of, or damage to the car (LDW), as well as a personal general insurance (PAI). You can buy an extra insurance (LIS) which provides increased third party coverage and also covers, if the other party is underinsured. The excess vary greatly and so does the cost of eliminating it, but sometimes you can get rental cars with so-called “no excess” deals. Though this doesn’t apply to vandalism and self-inflicted injuries.

Driving in Los Angeles

You need to bring your national driver’s license along with you, and if you have an EU driver’s license, then this will suffice (you will not need an international driver’s license). If you are under 21, you cannot rent a car in USA, and if you are under 25 years surcharges apply. Before the keys are handed over to you, the rental company takes a copy of your credit card and most companies will also reserve a certain amount of money on your card.  The money will not be available on you card before days after you’ve handed in the car, which is worth noticing, especially if you’re on a budget.

You can also rent a GPS, but I think it’s expensive, so I usually just use my iPhone and GoogleMaps.

There may be much traffic in Los Angeles and at certain times of day it can easily take over an hour to get from one part of town to another. Especially Sunset Blvd. and Hollywood Blvd. can get really crowded and so can the highways in and out of LA, so breathe in, relax and listen to some of the many radio stations you can tune into.

Driving in Los Angeles

In USA, if not specified otherwise, you are allowed to turn right at an intersection even when the red light is on.

Parking is either by parking meter (usually the cheapest), on separate parking lots (where you pay per hour, or per day) or valet (where you leave the keys to a person who parks your car, which is standard on many night clubs and restaurants).

Highways and freeways in and out of Los Angeles are often five-lanes, which can be a nerve-racking experience, if you are used to the Danish highway layout with 2-3 lanes. Even though it might seem a bit scary at first, please believe me, when I tell you that you’ll get used to it quickly. If you’re feeling insecure, just stay in the inner lanes in the beginning. Generally, the Americans drive nicely and are more patient in many cases than the people driving in Copenhagen.

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