I learned to drive in LA on the valley streets and the 405 freeway when I was 15. You can always tell a California driver; they step on the gas when going up a freeway onramp, confident that everyone there knows you are coming!
Lesson #1) In California, onramps ARE part of the freeway and not just the approach to the fast cars flying by.
I will never forget this story a gal from LA told me. She had moved to Hawaii and when approaching an onramp in her car, she "stepped on it" looking over her left shoulder to make sure there was a spot for her to enter, and SMASHED right into a stopped vehicle at the end of the onramp. She was so shocked that any one was there and why was there a car stopped on the freeway? In California, onramps ARE part of the freeway and not just the approach to the fast cars flying by.
Lesson #2) How to avoid rush hours!
If you think you are going to beat the traffic if you leave a little early...you are very mistaken! Everyone has the same idea. If you want to avoid getting stuck in traffic, do not turn the key to your ignition on before 10:00 a.m or after 3:00 p.m. Then you will be sitting pretty and get to your destination on time.
You will also notice that there is more traffic leaving a city than going into it. For instance, if you are trying to leave SoCal and you are on the 210 north bound, you will notice that it is smooth sailing into Pasadena and then lane crossing caos leaving Pasadena. If you are going to LAX, you are in good shape...if you are passing LAX, good luck there...because everyone else is leaving LAX too. And so on. It is a funny pattern but a real one to avoid if you can.
And then there is the 5 South in Orange County...I think every person in LA heads for San Diego/Mexico every Friday and comes back every Sunday. Avoid these days at all costs or you'll be caught counting seagulls.
Lesson #3) Always keep the top half of your gas tank full!
Lesson #4) Always have with you enough food and water to survive a few hours if there is an accident or an earthquake!
Lesson #5) Always have a stash of quarters in your car for parking meters!
Lesson #6) Always make a quick stop to the restroom before your leave just like your mom said!
Did I forget anything?