Surviving SoCal Freeway Madness

“Navigating Los Angeles is an experience in itself. By way of its intricate mapping of freeways, streets and avenues, the veins and arteries of its body possess the inhabitant to follow these lifelines, dependent upon its circulating blood to survive.” (Gloria Alvarez)

Southern California consistently ranks as among the most congested road systems in the world. Los Angeles vicinity drivers spend an average of 81-100 hours idling on freeways annually. Traffic congestion costs the average L.A. driver more than $2400.00 per year. On a given day near 8am or 5pm, drivers will have to wait an average of 51 minutes in delayed traffic just to travel 10-20 miles. During these peak commuter travel times , drivers will crawl at an average of 17mph during in the “rush” hour madness. Observe the graph below.

Predictably then, Ruth and I would experience the ongoing struggles of Los Angeles Freeway 101/Interstate 5 and 15 Highway travel this week as we reached our first California destinations of Hemet, Anaheim, and Thousand Oaks. Relying on our trusting GPS Guidance, binoculars, and AAA maps, we ventured with bold optimism into the expected nightmarish, Southern California freeway congestion at peak commuter hours. Approaching any curves, elevation rises,or major route interchanges, ongoing traffic would then typically slow our car to a crawl or stop. In my impatience with such gridlock as I passed our latest slowdown due to “rubberneckers” passing a burning car fire, I became inspired to share ten (10) observations of how L.A. freeway commuters survive this daily gridlock madness in Southern California.

1. Be well prepared to recognize and act promptly to erratic driver situations on all sides of your vehicle. Sudden lane shifters who give no turn signal warning, impulsive drivers who feel compelled to dart for exit ramps across several lanes of traffic , and left lane doddlers who obliviously drive below the speed limit are particular area of concern.

2. Realize that your GPS routing by freeway/interstate will not necessarily get you to a destination faster. Ditch the device and travel by your wits on less traveled perimeter streets as needed.

3. Forget the horn, just react. It seems nobody honks in the West Coast, casual atmosphere of SoCal.

4. Keep doors, sun roof, and windows closed during traffic stoppage as daring motorcycle drivers weave through stalled vehicles ahead to find tight spaces between vehicles while ornery birds bomb cars with poop from above. Keep air conditioning running if possible to avoid LA smog allergic reactions.

5.Meditate silently as you idle in stopped traffic. Gaze at the creative beauty of passing artwork, graffiti and billboards in congested corridors for additional mental stimulation.

6. Driving in the right lane or near a construction wall can impede your concentration easily. A haphazard array of work equipment, road debris, and even a misplace portable toilet may bring your vehicle to a suddenly unneeded stop there.

7. Carry a survival kit to satisfy body demands in case of extended period of vehicle stoppage. A urinary bag, water bottles, and emergency food supplies appear indispensable.

8. Understand that being late for arrival at any destination in SoCal is socially acceptable.

9. Commercially dense access roads lie dangerously close to points of freeway entry/exits.Do not assume that you have ample time to get on or off a freeway.

10. Avoid the temptation to use your handheld mobile device while stuck in So Cal traffic. California law forbids such activity while driving. Instead, you might try waving to fellow stranded passenger and strike up a personal. conversation.

Research Sources:

Los Angeles Times, 3/15/16 Edition

California Highways,, 2/10/18

3 thoughts on “Surviving SoCal Freeway Madness

Add yours

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: