Article about driving in Los Angeles

This article was published on August 14, 2000.  I believe it was in the LA Times, but I'm not certain.

Driving in Los Angeles Metro


LOS ANGELES -- Nothing is more fitting to the Los Angeles experience than driving. With its massive freeway system and lack of a decent transit system, Los Angeles is a region where one cannot survive without an automobile. However, with its increasingly overcrowded environment, driving around the southland can prove to be quite a hassle. Los Angeles, after all, is notorious for traffic jams. Here are some driving tips that should make your stay in the southland, be it permanent or temporary, more enjoyable.

First of all, never drive in the early morning or early evening; otherwise known as 'rush hour'. This is known as the "Duh" rule as it applies to every urban center in the world.

Second of all, remember that there are always several options of freeways to travel if the one you're taking happens to be 'jammed up'. Los Angeles is the "freeway capitol" of the world, so take advantage of its many alternative routes. Sure, it may take you a little out of way, but it's much better than sitting in "stop and go" traffic for an hour. I suggest tuning into AM 640 or AM 1070 for traffic info on Los Angeles/Ventura/Orange county freeways.

If you here the term "sig alert" in regards to the specific freeway you're traveling on, then exit immediately and begin looking for an alternative route. This term means that all lanes are closed on a given freeway and you are going absolutely nowhere. Do not pass go, because you will not be getting past go anytime in the next century.

Finally, if you hear that there is any traffic whatsoever on the 405 freeway, than immediately look for an alternative route. The 405, also known as the San Diego freeway, is so notoriously rotten, in regards to driving conditions, that regular "stop and go" traffic is seldom reported. The "parking lot", as it is referred to by Los Angeles residents, winds by the beaches and LAX airport making it much more traveled than other freeways. Avoid the 405 at all costs if you can.

The following is a lowdown of times to travel Los Angeles metro, as well as times to avoid it like the plague:

5-9am - morning rush hour; "only an idiot would drive through LA at this time"

9-11am - "you're probably in the clear, but there might be some light traffic"

11-1pm - lunch time, "hit or miss"

1-3pm - "good to go, but hurry because evening rush hour is much earlier in Los Angeles"

3-7pm - evening rush hour, "again, only an idiot would drive through LA at this time"

7-10pm - "Moderate traffic, depending on whether or not there's something going on in LA"

10pm-5am - "You're in the clear, all systems go"

The above is a general rule and, like all rules, there are always exceptions. Traffic, in any city, can be sudden and unexpected due to the random nature of accidents. Not to mention the fact that Los Angeles residents don't know how to drive in the rain, so expect a few accidents on those rare days when 'real weather' occurs in the southland.

In conclusion, If you know when to drive, know your alternative routes and pay close attention whilst driving in "la-la land", than you should fare well with our city's congestion. Just remember, keep that radio tuned to AM 640 or AM 1070, because you never know.

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Last updated 5/7/01