Thursday, June 26, 2008

Avoid LA traffic jams

Los Angeles traffic can be a nightmare, especially if you are stuck in it and have no way of knowing if the traffic continues for another few minutes or an hour. Whenever I am on my way out, I check the traffic on my computer before I drive by going to the sigalert website on ABC7. It shows the flow of traffic; red is SLOW, orange is moving, yellow is almost freeway speed, and green is traffic actually going freeway speed! There are also triangles showing road hazards or accidents along with the time of each occurrence. With maps for all the counties in and around around L.A., you can click on all the areas you plan to travel through, or just keep it on your home or work destinations. It always helps to see if an alternate route would be better before you find out by getting stuck on the road.

What if you are already on the road and are nowhere near a computer? Do you have an internet enabled wireless phone? One of the other local Los Angeles TV stations has a new free download for your internet enabled phone (for almost all phones except the iphone, which will be available this summer) that shows you LIVE traffic on your route from over 270 cameras while you are in your car! Just go to KNBC's website, put in your cell phone number, and they will send you the download. It's easy and it actually works! And if you live in NY or CT, they offer the same service at the Third Dimension website.

If your route is finally clear but now you can't find the address you were heading to, then just use your phone to text GOOGLE and text in the name or subject of your destination. This is free, so it's like using a 411 service only in text (which is actually more convenient when you are on the road because then you don't have to write it down). Remember with the new law effective July 1, 2008 in California, you MUST use a hands free device if you are driving while using your cell phone, so PULL OVER to use this service (or have someone else in your car do it if you are driving).

Traffic is a fact of life in Los Angeles, but with a little bit of planning and some good connections, you can make it easier, just like life.