Traveling in Southern California means many things to many people. This is not a travel guide. This is how to survive the freeway system and information on how to calculate distances. The freeway system scares many people. Heck, it terrifies some Southern California natives. What if I get stuck in traffic? What you see on TV is lines of cars going nowhere. Yes, that happens but it is not as bad as the media would have you believe. What do you need to know?
The freeways in Southern California appear to cross each other every few miles. It is easy to get confused. Do I want to go south or north when the freeway looks like it is heading east? If you are geographically challenged this can be a problem. An easy trick to remember, freeways are numbered. Even numbered freeways (Interstate 210, Interstate 10, and Route 60) are always east and west. Odd numbered freeways (Interstate 15, Interstate 5, and Route 71) are north and south. If you know your destination and your map gives you the direction, even if the freeway looks like it is going in the wrong direction, you will be all right. If you missed the 91 freeway and got on the 22 freeway instead, do not worry. Both of them will cross the 57 freeway.
Travel in Southern California is measured in time, not distance. If you ask anyone how far something is, they will give you a time frame. Miles are inconsequential and mean absolutely nothing. A four-mile trip could be 4 minutes or 20 depending on the area and traffic. If there is an accident, all bets are off. While the distance from Riverside, CA to Palm Springs, CA, is 41 miles, it is actually an hour.
You wake up in Palm Springs, CA, and know that it is going to be 110 degrees. You think that it would be better to enjoy the day in a cooler spot. It is going to be 80 degrees in Oceanside, CA and you really want to watch the sun set over the ocean.
Given what you know, it will be an easy drive. It is 98 miles, which is an easy 2-hour trip. Oceanside is west and south of Palm Springs. Take Interstate 10 and go west. Merge onto Interstate 15 and head south. Take CA-76 west towards Pala/Oceanside and you are there.
In spite of its reputation, traveling in Southern California is not scary. Having an estimated time and a working knowledge of the freeway system takes away the confusion. Southern California is a great place to visit. It is possible to start out in the desert, make a trip to the mountains, enjoy the pines, and end up at the beach to roast marshmallows.Before you leave, you may want to check the Sig-Alert maps covering all of Southern California and now, most of the major cities in the United States. If there is an incident, you will be able to plan a route that avoids the problem. Sig-Alerts have been around a very long time. According to the California Department of Transportation, Sig-Alerts are unique to Southern California." In the 1940's the LAPD notified a local radio reporter, Lyod Sigmon, of bad accidents on city streets. Mr. Sigmon then notified his audience and they became known as Sig-Alerts. Mr. Sigmon created an electronic system that allowed authorities to alert the media of incidents. This system still notifies the media of any traffic incident that will tie up two or more lanes of a freeway for two or more hours.
Reposted from a Helium article created on July 10, 2009.