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Grace
Hagerty Employee

Think driving in Los Angeles is bad? Try Toronto.

I’m here to share with you my unique perspective on driving culture in the two parts of the world where I consume thousands of miles of road. On average, I drive nearly 50,000 kilometres a year, with half of that in the Toronto area and a third in Southern California. It may come as a surprise to you, but I’m willing to argue that drivers in Southern California are not the worst. Most Toronto drivers are, on the other hand, decidedly in the Needs Improvement camp.

 

Read the full article on Hagerty.com: https://www.hagerty.com/media/opinion/the-elsinore-files/think-driving-in-los-angeles-is-bad-try-tor...

34 REPLIES 34
jjseo
Passenger

Never driven in Toronto, but driving there sounds no different than driving in the Washington DC area.  Here, you contend with the usual bad and selfish drivers, poorly designed interchanges and intersections, inadequate, misleading or nonexistent signage and poorly timed traffic lights.

Germanicus
Intermediate Driver

At least it sounds like there's a uniformity to driving standards in the GTA. There is no such uniformity in driving standards in Florida. I've dealt with hyper-aggressive drivers imported straight from a Caracas rush hour, to senior citizens who believe they have a divine right to go 20 under in the left lane. The footage from my dash cam looks like a mirrored version of those Australian dash cam videos. Florida's extremely lax roadworthiness standards, which while a boon to classic car owners, means there are some real **bleep**boxes on the road that even Finnegan and Freiburger wouldn't be caught dead in. Speed traps are seemingly ever-present on the good stretches of straight road, and the closest curvy road to me is Sebring International Raceway.


Florida: a great place to own a car, but not to drive one.

Rider79
Instructor

I was in far southern Florida in 2019, for the first time since 1984. I was astonished at how bad some of the drivers were. I am used to big city rush-hour, and 85-mile RT commutes, but I sure wasn't ready for the poor driving in Southern Florida.
Billthecat707
Detailer

Totally articulated my daily experience here. And add in the huge number of people for whom there phone is of primary importance and driving a distant second.
gerald102413
Detailer

From Connecticut, Florida and now, I live in SoCal, but throughout my time living in Florida for over 7 years prior to me moving to the west coast, Florida is by far the worst drivers thus far in the union. 

gpsuya
Intermediate Driver

Great Article. I live in Ontario & couldn't agree more. I might add that all the  Government mandated gizmos in the interest of "safety" are creating a whole new generation of inattentive & incompetent drivers. Also, years ago the amount of salt used on the highway's was miniscule vs today.  At the first whiff of a snowflake the salt trucks are usually out in full force. So now most motorists are clueless when it comes to dealing with slippery roads.

hearsedriver
Intermediate Driver

amen brother!

Unbalanced
Intermediate Driver

The most mind blowing aspect of driving in LA is that the traffic NEVER ENDS. 

You’re coming home from a party or late show at 2am and thinking this’ll be a breeze home on the freeway. Then you merge on to the 10 and it’s freaking jammed full of 80mph road warriors. Who are these people?

When we used to watch 24, the most implausible aspect of the SoCal scenarios was not Jack Bauer single handedly holding off a dozen assailants or torturing the bad guy into quickly spilling the beans, it was our hero making it from one LA location to another in under an hour. No way!

Grace
Hagerty Employee

love that show!!

MeJ
Intermediate Driver

I live in Vancouver and it is about as terrible as you can get. I just looked up the index you mentioned and, sure enough, we rate 3rd overall. Right behind LA. I've been to LA and the difference is the drivers there are much more skilled in general. Watching people merge properly is a sight to behold! I have seen -on a regular basis on my commute- drivers sitting in front of a merge sign waiting for an opening like it was a yield sign. Truly sad driving here in Vancouver.

hearsedriver
Intermediate Driver

i live in northern Ontario, and make trips to Toronto and area a couple times a year. i loathe parking, er, i mean "driving" in T.O. if you are not doing 120 km/hr, you get run over, leave a space in front of you, and some idiot kamikaze cuts in front on their way to a spot 2 lanes over. the don valley "parking lot", don't get me started. idiots on their cell phones, and yes they are in shock and awe at these 2 wheeled vehicles that show up when the snow disappears. after the inevitable crash, you can add the corrupt, fraudulent and extortion tactics of the towing companies

Flashman
Instructor

I lived in inner Toronto for 14 years (now I live elsewhere in S. ON) and your article is spot on.  One thing you didn't mention is the government's undeclared war on the automobile in T.O.  Everything from canceling the Spadina Expressway to 4-way stop signs at every intersection to getting tickets for parking in front of your house.  It might be cynical to say it's just revenue-generation but it's deeper than that.  Traffic has increased exponentially since I left; road-building or getting more out of what is already there has not.   They don't want people to drive cars.  Really.  It's hardly surprising people are not good at it (or perhaps they're reacting to the stress of even owning a car in T.O.).

Meowta
New Driver

I have been driving in Toronto for fifty years.  The infrastructure, be it roads or public transportation has not kept pace with the number of residents.  The biggest problem is the low barrier to getting a drivers licence, and then once you have one there is no periodic testing.  You can get a licence in your teens and not be retested until you are an octogenarian. I would heartily support mandatory re-testing every 5-10 years.

1933ford
Intermediate Driver

I firmly do not believe further testing would improve the behavior of our drivers. Drivers are well aware what they should be doing ie stay to the right, speeding in school zone, etc they CHOOSE not to. Further testing will no effect on bad behavior.
MeJ
Intermediate Driver

You are absolutely right. Here in Vancouver the test is so easy, any moron can get a license. Then ICBC (our insurance company) wonders why they lose so much money on insurance claims. Maybe if they considered the fact that they have some of the most unskilled drivers operating two ton machinery, then they might figure it out. 

Goggles_Pisano
New Driver

This is absolutely true. In fact, it also seems that the closer you get to the Airport or the Don Valley Parkway, the crazier the driving behavior becomes.
Mogowner
Intermediate Driver

I live in downtown Toronto, and find that the standard of driving is somewhat "third world". I spend an extended period of time in the U.K., and each time I return to Toronto it seems to me that the comparison between the competence level of the drivers becomes greater. On our multi-lane highways there is next to no lane-discipline as you find in the U.K., and absolutely no enforcement by the police, who are as often as not, guilty of ignoring rules of lane usage themselves. The design of the multi-lane highways doesn't help, as in many locations around Toronto the right-hand (slow) lane very often disappears into the collector lanes, encouraging the nervous slower drivers to cruise in the fast (center) lane. Another error, .which doesn't help, is signage that instructs "slower drivers keep right", when the correct instruction should be "keep right except to pass". Many of the incompetents believe that because they are driving at the 100kph limit, that they are not slower drivers, and may cruise in the left-hand (passing) lane until hell freezes over. Driver education is extremely poor, and no doubt gives rise to our Toronto "third-world-standard" of drivers.
1933ford
Intermediate Driver

Clearly the folks in power in Ontario have been listening and influenced by those that want the polluting automobile banished and bicycles to thrive (imagine that when we have winters here with cold and snow) . Yes you are right the speed limit are a deliberate successful attempt to get additional revenue under the guise of pedestrian safety.
SilentBoy741
Detailer

"On the other hand, the level of awareness required to endure this traffic on a daily basis raises the skill levels of the local drivers."

Well, then something mysterious must happen once you guys move out of state, because ask any Oregon or Washington driver the opinion of the skills of that driver with a Cali plate slamming through the state at mach 4, homicidally and suicidally running other drivers off the roads, cutting in too short, never signaling, and having pedestrians dive for the hedges, all while jabbering away on their cell phones or typing on their laptops, and you'd get a decidedly different opinion.
Rider79
Instructor

Interesting. I guess many Canadians are not as courteous and "nice" as Minnesotans, even if the climates (and often ancestral origins) are similar.
Locarnotim1970
New Driver

Toronto driving is a third world experience in a first world city. People from there told me it is because they can only drive in a 180 degree arc as Lake Ontario takes up the other 180 degrees. Isn’t that true of lots of cities? Others blame the high percentage of new immigrant drivers who had no previous experience or were taught badly before they arrived.
But if you think Toronto is bad, try Vancouver where a high percentage of driver seem to wear blinkers aka blinders as worn by horses. The overall standard is simply horrible. I prefer driving and riding in Mexico.
DrSchinbeckler
Pit Crew

Bull**bleep**. I live in Northern Ontario but drive on the 401 and I405 regularly. The big difference, which you fail to mention, is motorcycles. A huge factor in I405 drivers sticking to their lanes during gridlock is the morons on hot bikes lane splitting at 100kph. You are stopped. They whistle by at 6 grand in fourth between you and the Merc in the next lane, completely hidden by the trucks behind you. Merge left into a faster lane and somebody is going to die. There is none of that on the 401.
Rakos
New Driver

Another advantage to driving in Toronto vs LA is there are a lot fewer drive-by shootings (like zero in all history).
bloodnok
Pit Crew

i can vouchsafe this take on the noble torontonian driver. moved from the gta (greater toronto area) 30 years ago and upon every return visit am astounded at how incredibly awful and boorish the drivers are. also how congested and slow the highways (we canooks don't call 'em freeways, eh?) are. actually, it appears to have gotten much worse as the gta rat cage gets packed fuller over the decades.
hyperv6
Technician

I have driven in many high traffic areas. Toronto is bad like LA but much smaller. 

You want bad the Washington DC metro area is hands the the worse. The second with continuous construction is Atlanta. 

Now with the virus and many working from home all have improved to a degree. 

Nothing  beats many other countries like Russia, Mexico and South America. 

kenlichtig
New Driver

I lived in SoCal for 33 years before making my escape to Greensboro NC in 2008. Remembering the overhead freeway overpass signage spray painted by gangbangers so you cannot read the info with matching graffiti spray painted on the sound deadening retaining walls.

Motorcyclists' weaving in and out of traffic. I've seen women putting on their make-up and men using their electric razor while creeping 5 mph Southbound on the 405 Freeway heading on the Sepulveda Pass during rush hour

I have been to Toronto many times. The only problem I had encountered is the price of petrol/gasoline is !@@$$% expensive per litre.
GG2001
New Driver

I’ve driven in rush-hour in LA, Atlanta and Chicago and Toronto is by far the worst. In those other cities you are at least moving even if you are crawling - In Toronto you often are at a complete stop over and over again. Add in the terrible and uncourteous drivers (the friendly Canadian stereotype is a myth, especially on the roads!) and it makes driving in or through Toronto a terrible experience!
JohnZiraldo
Intermediate Driver

Brian, I was surprised that you didn't mention my favourite peeve about Toronto area drivers. Driving south on the DVP from Lawrence to Eglington is a perfect indication of an extreme accordion affect as people are hesitant to maintain speed up the hill until they are able to see the traffic over the top of the hill. They slow down before the crest, causing the accordion affect, then speed up to fill in the huge gap in front of them over the crest before they have to brake again further south. This happens on any road where the driver cannot see over a hill or around the corner. Ontario drivers are cowards.
JohnZiraldo
Intermediate Driver

When my family planned our Route 66 road trip, I was very concerned about driving in L.A. after all of the horror stories about their freeways We had two cars and my son driving the second car had only about one year of driving experience. I thought we would die for sure. By the time we drove from Toronto to L.A., I became very confident in the driving skills that my son was exhibiting. As we left L.A. heading north on the PCH, we commented to each other, "Well, that was a big nothing". It was fun driving in L.A.
Tinkerah
Technician

I was a field service guy in Eastern Massachusetts during the Big Dig years. How about terribly overcrowded roads to start with, detours that changed every week or so, then throw an occasional snowstorm at it. The deepest tragedy is it was obsolete the day it was completed.
GTOGeorge
New Driver

I enjoyed your article Brian. I think another problem contributing to poor driving behaviour is folks sitting in the left of middle lane at highway speed limit, or below. I constantly hear people complaining about drivers speeding, but I've also observed drivers going substantially below the posted limit where other drivers are not able to pass, and then speed up over the limit when the road opens. Those games only lead to a bad event. To complicate this further, my observation is that we have substantially more truck traffic than the US which make our roads much more dangerous.
Oldsguy
New Driver

I've driven in Vancouver, Montreal, and Quebec. Vancouver has heavy traffic 24/7, but not too bad.
In CA or TX you'd best stay out of left lane unless you're willing to go 20mph over the posted limit, and lane-splitting motorcycles in CA are a living nightmare.
In WA (greater Puget Sound area) we have several problems, some common to other progressive areas and some unique. We're in a temperate zone, usually not too hot or too cold, but we can get 18" of heavy wet snow, cold into the teens, and plenty of rain and wind. About 40% of the drivers here actually learned how to drive growing up here, while most either learned somewhere else or didn't drive until they moved here as an adult. Another problem is the interminable time it takes the state to actually finish a project. As an example: it took the WSDOT 18 years of continuous construction to add an HOV lane to an existing highway 22 miles long. This "improvement" added one lane each direction to a two-lane highway, but is only used by 5% of vehicles. The biggest problem, as I'm sure is common in other urban areas, is WSDOT's goals are "Inclusion", "Practical Solutions", and "Workforce Development", not the safe and efficient transportation of people and goods. It will never get better.
Crushers
New Driver

i grew up in the rurals of Ontario so being polite was normal. the first time i drove in toronto i realized that being polite was scorned and abused. signal to change lanes? the bugger would speed up and cut you off. if you leave safe distance between you and the car ahead, someone slides in. sudden braking normal. rapid acceleration, normal. you need to wear two hats in ontario, polite for the rurals. aggressive for the city. i avoid Toronto as much as i can. there is no law against rudeness, stupidity or ignorance but maybe there should be.
Frenchie
Intermediate Driver

Well I must say you are right about Toronto drivers, has a Contractor I am on the roads a lot daily and 30 accident misses on the 401 every day, in the morning lets see who gets to the office first they need to cut in front of a car just to be ahead by one car lol , too many 1 car drivers , woman putting eye shadow while driving , men actually shaving while driving , but the most dangerous driver in Toronto is the Texter while driver not paying attention to what is ahead Welcome to Toronto it is a death trap on our roads I know I live in Toronto