How to Drive in California, USA/Passing
I guess what you have to be at times like this is part mind reader. After a few times of this bizarre, and I will even call it illegal behavior is to hope you realize what is going on and know how to react. Nobody said that Driving in Southern California doesn't have its very scary moments.
Another aspect of stop lights (I truly hope I don't need to explain the use of stop lights - Green equals GO, Red equals STOP (just like at a stop sign) and yellow means Caution) that I have noticed lately is the fact that some folk insist on stopping many feet behind the limit line or the crosswalk. At some larger or newer stoplights there is a sensor planted below the asphalt that tells the stop light when a car is waiting to go through the intersection. You pull all the way up to the first white line, the sensor and the stop light know you are there and patiently waiting for the green light. If you don't do this, you and the cars behind you may be stuck there awhile.
Also, when stop lights are not working properly, (Flashing RED or not working at all) treat them as a stop sign.
Passing other cars
Ok, this is a fun topic. On freeways, if you find yourself getting passed by other cars and trucks, pull over to the right hand lane. You, believe it or not, are actually going slower than the flow of traffic and really need to get out of the way of faster traffic. Passing on freeways is, uhm, well, lets say interesting. For sure, you may get passed on the left or the right hand side. Hopefully you are using your mirrors and are aware of the vehicle that wants to pass you. Hopefully, they are using their turn signals on their vehicle (good luck with this). Usually, you will not get this warning feature. And sometimes the speed of the vehicle coming up on you is so fast that you may not see the vehicle till they are along side of you passing you. They have come from behind another vehicle, or have just come out of the distance to pass you unobserved. Is this a safe way to drive? Hardly, but people still insist on this as a mode of getting from point A to point B.
On other roads, say a two lane country road, there are other factors you need to worry about as you try to pass someone.
Number 1)- Is the Yellow line on the road broken on your side? If it is solid, you are legally not supposed to pass. Why, you might ask? The engineers that built the road are figuring that there is good reason for you not to be trying to pass a vehicle right then, like a blind curve up ahead, a rise in the road, or a hill.
Number 2) - Can you pass the vehicle in time? You really need to be sure and try and finish your pass before your side of the yellow line goes solid again. Isn't driving a blast? It really helps to have vast amounts of horsepower on country two lane roads and trying to pass. Once you get on the other side of the yellow line, once you travel into oncoming traffic, speed is essential. Granted there is the speed limit, but you should have this in consideration before attempting your pass. Once you get into the oncoming traffic lane, you are in some very dangerous territory. You want to safely get back into your lane as soon as possible.
Passing in the city
Passing in the city is another matter. You don't have to usually worry about broken or solid yellow lines, for you are going to see white lines for the most part. You also have traffic signs you have to pay attention to. Stop lights, traffic, pedestrians, signs along the road, distractions and noise by the boatload in places. This is where you really need to be paying attention. People stopping, some illegally, people turning and passing you, horns honking, stereo's blazing - not a calm environment at all. Sometimes you have to pass in a split second. You really must be aware of all that is around you at all times. You have to pay attention to where you are in relation to turns and intersections and many other things. At times, especially in big cities, you will have bumper to bumper traffic to consider as well. You may need to plan some three or four intersections ahead to get where you want to go and how you will pass or change lanes.