We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

*Driving a rental car in Santa Monica? Read this

Santa Monica...
Destination Expert
for Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Mammoth Lakes
Level Contributor
31,462 posts
45 reviews
*Driving a rental car in Santa Monica? Read this

It's that time of year again - I'm seeing rental cars driving through crosswalks with people in them, and getting immediately pulled over by the police and ticketed. Tourist season brings out of town drivers unfamiliar with the local laws - and one that is heavily enforced in Santa Monica is the crosswalk law.

You must stop at a crosswalk if you see someone entering, about to enter, or in the crosswalk. The police actually sit on the side of the road, like shooting fish in a barrel, to ticket. The reason for this is that Santa Monica has a very high incident of pedestrian fatalities/ serious injury.

Also - watch out for Bird scooters - they come out of nowhere and can get up to speeds of 30mph.

21 replies to this topic
South Carolina
Level Contributor
584 posts
4 reviews
1. Re: *Driving a rental car in Santa Monica? Read this

Very helpful. Som people dan walk into crosswalks at any time? Or, just when they have a walk sign? Not that i will debate if they had the walk sign or not, just wondering. Man, now that I think about it, it must be a pain to drive there during peak tourist season if folks can just cross at any time, Traffic would never be moving.

Santa Monica...
Destination Expert
for Santa Monica
Level Contributor
22,208 posts
262 reviews
2. Re: *Driving a rental car in Santa Monica? Read this

You must stop for pedestrians even if you don't notice a painted cross-walk, any intersection is legal to cross in California, and you may not challenge pedestrians! Pedestrians have the right of way on all surface streets (that means non-freeway).

For most arriving at LAX, you'll drive down Lincoln Blvd, where there are lots of crosswalks. There are two lanes in each direction, sometimes you'll notice the car in the left lane will stop, so if you are in the right lane and the car next to you stops, best you do too, it's likely there's a pedestrian in the crosswalk that you cannot see. Drive really really REALLY slowly, please.

My best advise for downtown Santa Monica and a car - DON'T DO IT! Choose a beach parking lot instead, they are easier to get in and out of. Walk downtown Santa Monica, do not bring your car there. You'll thank me later.

The city is working on plans to raise parking rates - a lot - in the downtown core in an attempt to lower the number of cars there. We have Metro Expo line from LA and a great bus from Hollywood, Metro 704. Your car is a nuisance in Santa Monica, even my neighbors and I prefer to Lyft to downtown Santa Monica rather than drive our own cars, hunt for expensive parking, fight to get out of garages when that stupid Uber swoops in front of the exit to pick up a passenger.....

And one more thing about this summer that this lady is happy about. NO TWILIGHT DANCE CONCERTS ON THURSDAY NIGHTS

https://la.curbed.com/2017/12/13/16772070/sa…

They were "invented" when Santa Monica couldn't get anyone to visit on weekdays. Well that's the past!

South Carolina
Level Contributor
584 posts
4 reviews
3. Re: *Driving a rental car in Santa Monica? Read this

Wow. I see why traffic is so bad. I dont plan to drive downtown SM, but goodness, thats rough for traffic flow.

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
Level Contributor
16,716 posts
52 reviews
4. Re: *Driving a rental car in Santa Monica? Read this

Ha - sounds like San Francisco, where countless drivers and peds are oblivious and have their faces cemented to their e-things, and just proceed right into traffic without the slightest idea that they are about to clobber someone or be clobbered!

And the scooters too - in San Francisco the City is cracking down on those because of multiple complaints by people who somehow have this strange notion that everyone should be able to safely share the sidewalks. :^/

Santa Monica...
Destination Expert
for Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Mammoth Lakes
Level Contributor
31,462 posts
45 reviews
5. Re: *Driving a rental car in Santa Monica? Read this

This is the law for all painted crosswalks. Not at the light.

A good point to also mention for pedestrians: When at a signal, you may only cross when you have the white walk sign - if you enter the crosswalk when the red countdown begins, you - the pedestrian - can be ticketed. You may NOT enter the crosswalk on the red countdown or when it's flashing red. I see those tickets being given on Montana Avenue all the time. Again, this is for pedestrian safety. However, it's also to help traffic move along and for drivers to make those left (and right) turns, while they still have the green.

Also, if driving in DTSM (downtown Santa Monica), do not make a U-turn on Ocean Avenue. If you think you've missed the Pier, no problem, just make the first right or the first left, and then go around the block. You'll get a very expensive ticket if you make a U-Turn (even at the light, since there are no left turns allowed when heading north).

South Carolina
Level Contributor
584 posts
4 reviews
6. Re: *Driving a rental car in Santa Monica? Read this

ElleB, ok, so that was my question above. Pedestrians cant just cross all the time, just when they have a walk sign. That makes sense. If not, pedestrians would be crossingcall day and night. Cars would never be able to move. Trarfic nightmare.

Level Contributor
3,158 posts
1 review
7. Re: *Driving a rental car in Santa Monica? Read this

<<Trarfic nightmare.>>

Definition of SoCal beaches in summer.

Santa Monica...
Destination Expert
for Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Mammoth Lakes
Level Contributor
31,462 posts
45 reviews
8. Re: *Driving a rental car in Santa Monica? Read this

One more new thing: Walk signs at traffic lights will be green before the car light turns green. Again, this is to help pedestrians move along through the crosswalk before the cars move forward - keep your eyes on the walk signs, not on the traffic light.

And, in DTSM, the diagonal crosswalks are when you can cross in any direction. The traffic light will cycle through once for all directions before it's legal for pedestrians to cross with their light - and the cars on all sides will have a red light. So, even if the traffic light is green, you may not cross if the walk sign isn't lit for you, or shows red. This also helps cars move along - cars turning right no longer have to wait for a pedestrian in a crosswalk since peds now have their own light. Just be patient for your turn.

Chapel Hill, North...
Level Contributor
9,742 posts
39 reviews
9. Re: *Driving a rental car in Santa Monica? Read this

I lived in LA a long long time ago and remember being shocked the first time I saw a pedestrian getting ticketed for jaywalking. That just never happens where I'm from and in this college town they do it all the time. So, that is still the thing in Santa Monica and LA? Tickets for cars who don't yield to peds and tickets for peds who jaywalk?

Santa Monica...
Destination Expert
for Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Mammoth Lakes
Level Contributor
31,462 posts
45 reviews
10. Re: *Driving a rental car in Santa Monica? Read this

Yes. The goal is to reduce pedestrian death- they are too common, sadly.

Reply to: *Driving a rental car in Santa Monica? Read this
Get notified by e-mail when a reply is posted
Get answers to your questions about Santa Monica
Recent Conversations