Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Socal Traffic Expert: 405 and Other LA Freeway Quick Tips

Do you know there is actually a Yelp page for the 405 Freeway?

Like most online sources of information about LA traffic, there are mostly rants and raves and opinions rather than actual useable facts. Socal Traffic Expert strives to HELP the average driver navigate AROUND LA traffic. We like to be part of the solution, not just contribute to what seems to be an ongoing problem.

We asked our Facebook followers... If you drive/have driven in Los Angeles Traffic, what ONE thing would you recommend someone driving in LA for the first time to do/not do?

Gary Klayman (AZ resident, former Inland empire resident):
Dont take your eyes off the road trying to spot celebrities on the freeway or you may end up rear ending one.

Although I have not personally witnessed celebrities on the freeway with my own eyes, the chances of seeing one in Socal is pretty great. I would venture to guess that “rubbernecking” (for East coast transplants) for celebrities is directly correlated to accident rate just as much as “looky-loo” curiosity about an accident on the other side of your freeway. Keep your eyes ahead of you and aware of your surroundings at all times, preferably with a field of vision ¼ mile ahead of you on the freeway.

Bonnie Keith (38 year Socal resident):
Just relax, you'll get there eventually.
Shannon this is a great point. There are very few freeways in Southern California (most notably the Pasadena Freeway (110)) that have older, shorter on and offramps like those on East coast turnpikes and thruways. Most onramps on Socal freeways are metered, which means during drive-time, the entrance traffic is directed with a stop light. If there is no stop light, make sure you use the onramp as what it is meant to be – an ACCELERATION lane where you increase speed to match (as closely as possible) the existing flow of traffic on the “mainline” of the freeway.
    Road rage is a whole chapter... I could include stories like the one on the 170 where a fighting party pulled over and one subsequently hit and ran over the other.

    Nancy Hurst Kirkwood Checking the map ahead of time a good idea - do not freak out if you miss your exit just get off at next one - Move with the flow of traffic
Cutting across lanes is extremely disruptive to the flow of traffic (especially when it is already moving slowly), not to mention extremely dangerous.
    Showbiz Emelle Never EVER get on the 405. That. Is. All. If people ask, I tell them that there is only a two-hour window where the 405 is clear, and it changes daily, so no one can ever know when it actually exists.
This is quite true. Very rarely does the 405 (the hellish section usually referred to is the stretch generally between the 101 and 105) see free-flowing traffic. Certainly not during any daylight hours.

Chuck Rowe Know your alternate routes!

Because of the geography and topgography in California, drivers do not have the luxury of following a grid-type navigation system as in many smaller towns and midwest cities. Sometimes an exit will not lead to a frontage road, or a particular exit will not have an access ramp for returning on the other side of the freeway. Learn as much as you can (preferably using Socal Traffic Expert) about the freeways on your route AHEAD of time.  
    Eileen Clemens Granfors Do not assume your blinker on will help you merge whether because of road work, accident, or the way the stupid road is built.

Never assume ANYTHING on Socal roads. Do not assume people see you or where you are going. Double and triple check before you make a lane change. ALWAYS watch out for motorcycles, as it is legal for motorcyclists to ride in between lanes in California, something that surprises (and usually infuriates) automobile drivers visiting CA for their first time.

Contact #SocalTrafficExpert Randy Keith
Call or Text 480-840-7301


Monday, August 18, 2014

Socal Traffic Expert: Understanding Freeway Names in Southern California

Understanding Freeway names in Southern California

Southern California is one of the few places in the country that actually have “freeways” that are legitimately named; that is, they are free. Other states and regions may have tollways, parkways, highways, trafficways, throughways, causeways, or just “roadways” (a common “crutch” used by traffic reporters to describe a Southern California freeway), but in SoCal, they are all just freeways. Arguably they are not free, as SoCal gas prices and the sheer amount of time sitting on them surely don't feel “free.”

If you are not a native Californian, you may find comfort in this fact, but then get confused as to the markings and the names. First off, just like in other states, there are Interstates, State Highways, and US Highways. The difference in description is logistic and really carries no relevance to us as drivers, other than seeing different shaped signs on the roads.

Interstate Highways (“Freeways” in SoCal) are funded by the Interstate Highway system. Only single and double digit Interstates actually extend across state lines. They also follow the traditional rule that odd numbers go North/South and even numbers go East/West. 3-digit interstate highways are extensions of the primary interstate, and usually have their terminal beginning and ends as a tangent of their “primary” interstate's number (405 extends from the 5 in Mission Hills to the 5 in Mission Viejo). Therefore the 3-digit interstates do not necessarily conform to the same rules (the 710 runs north/south while the 10 runs East/West)...

Interstate Highways that run through Southern California
  • I-5 – Runs from San Ysidro/Tijuana at the US/Mexico border all the way through California, Oregon and Washington to the US/Canadaian border
  • I-10 – Runs from the coastline in Santa Monica (the McClure Tunnel – technically the merge of the Santa Monica Freeway and Pacific Coast Hwy (CA-1)) across the entire Southern U.S. To end in Jacksonville, Florida
  • I-15 – Runs from the merge with 5 in San Diego through Nevada, Utah, and Idaho to the Canadian border
  • I-405 From the 5
  • I-710 There is one small section of the 710 that is not the Interstate section, and part of the reason why the 710 does not extend into Pasadena. The 710 terminus is just north of its primary freeway, I-10, and seres a huge amount of freight traffic into the Port of Long Beach.
  • I-605 Extends from the border of Long Beach/Seal Beach to the San Gabriel mountains in Irwindale.
  • I-210 Runs along the “foothills” of the San Gabriel Mountains, from the Newhall Pass through Pasadena. The interstate portion of the 210 serves as a major thoroughfare between Pasadena and points in the San Gabriel Valley and the Inland Empire. The entire stretch of the 210 (officially a “state highway,” not an Interstate) runs as far east as San Bernardino and Redlands
  • I-110 The Interstate portion of the 110, also known as the “Harbor Freeway” serves as the link between the Port of Los Angeles (San Pedro) and Downtown Los Angeles.
There is a numerical name and a given name for each freeway in Southern California. It seems a matter of habit for most people, either they use one or the other. Most east coast transplants seem to prefer the given names, whereas most natives and even midwesterners will use numbers. It seems the majority of traffic reports contain the numbers of the freeways, although good reports make an attempt to use both when possible.

Also, there are some freeways that just never seem to be called by their given names, most notably the 91 (gardena) and 105 (Glenn M. Anderson fwy). Toll roads in orange county are rarely described by their extensive names (San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor).

#SocalTrafficExpert Randy Keith
Call or Text 480-840-7301