February 7, 2023 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

11 Interesting and Funny Things You Never Knew About Southern California Traffic

Although Southern California’s roadways and traffic density is the stuff of legend, you may not know some of these interesting facts about Southern California traffic.

Southern California’s the Oldest Freeway in the United States

The Arroyo Seco Parkway, which translates to “dry riverbed” parkway, was arguably the first freeway built in the United States.  Although the first survey for the freeway plan was done in the late 1800s and completed in 1940, travelers had been traversing the gulch for centuries because it was so naturally conducive to travel.  An interesting historical note is that the Arroyo Seco Parkway, also called the 110, was first surveyed in 1895, the same year that the first automobile design was patented in the United States.

The Pasadena Freeway is a National Landmark

The Arroyo Seco Parkway is also known as the Pasadena Freeway.  Because it is the third oldest superhighway in America, The American Society of Civil Engineers designated the 6.7 parkway as a National Civil Engineering Landmark.  Its design was revolutionary and remains relatively unchanged today, even though it accommodates about four times the traffic it was originally conceived to hold.

A DJ Once Caused a Traffic Jam With a Joke

In 1993, a radio DJ told listeners that the space shuttle was scheduled to land at a small airport in a residential area.  It happened to be on April Fools Day.  Drivers flocked to the area, blocking commuters and residents from going about their business for hours.  

Some Great Car Design Was Inspired by SoCal’s Freeways

Many of the most influential car designers and stylists trained at the Art Center College of Design, which is located just off the 110.  Stylists like Larry Shinoda, who worked on the Corvette Stingray, Chris Bangle from BWM, and Ford F-150’s J Mays drove Southern California freeways during the height of their design educations.  

Southern California Has the Worst Traffic Jams in America

A comprehensive study into the traffic in and around the United States’ major metropolitan areas in 2017 found that drivers who lived in and around the City of Los Angeles spend 102 hours each year just dealing with traffic. The five worst culprit areas in LA are all on I-405.  Experts chalk this up to the fact that the city’s layout as well as limited public transportation options make car travel many people’s only choice.

A Thanksgiving Prank Cost $8,300 and Many Missed Meals

A San Diego man thought it would be hilarious way to celebrate Thanksgiving by calling his sister while she was driving and tell her there was a bomb in her trunk.  The ensuing emergency police and fire department response clogged up the highway for hours, leaving people traveling to holiday dinners stuck.  He was eventually jailed, fined, and given community service for his misdeed.

Car Crash Fatalities Are About Average

Despite the heavy volume of Southern California traffic, its approximately 5,000 deaths due to traffic accidents are on par with the per capita U.S. averages. According to a highly knowledgeable automobile traffic attorney, the 2019 Mileage Death Rate (MDR) in Southern California was 1.06 per million miles driven.  Although traffic, and traffic fatalities, took a dip during the Covid-19 pandemic, it bounced back and then some in 2021, when people started getting back out into the community.  

The Worst Traffic Accident in Southern California Was Caused by Fog

A two mile long crash in 2002 happened in Los Angeles when a large truck crashed into the center divider due to thick fog.  The initial crash created a chain reaction involving over 216 vehicles.  It was one of the biggest chain-reaction accidents in American history.  

Los Angeles Has the Most Cars Per Square Mile in the U.S. 

The County of Los Angeles is about 4,060 square miles.  It’s huge compared to New York City’s 300 square miles.  Despite this major discrepancy in size, Los Angeles’s 7.8 million cars versus New York’s 2.6 million, means Los Angeles has about 5 times more cars per square mile than New York City.  That’s the highest in the country.

It Also Has the Most Cars per Person…in the World

Los Angeles has 7.8 cars for every 10 people in the area.  The next highest rate of cars per person is Tokyo, then New York City, followed by London and Singapore.

California Ranks Second in Centerline Road Miles

What are centerline road miles?  Centerline roads are roads with pavement and line markings.  About one-third of the roads in the United States are not paved and are not counted in centerline road miles.  California’s size and driving culture help its 396,540 total lane miles bring it in as having the second highest number of miles, just behind Texas.  Los Angeles county possesses 6,500 of those miles.

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