If you haven’t already joined the millions of people on the road for the holiday rush, there are some things to keep in mind, whether you’re taking the station wagon to the snow, loading up the van to see the grandparents or just trying to catch a flight.
For example, did you know that airport officials recommend that you enter LAX using the lower arrivals level — even if you’re departing, just because of the congestion, if you’re visiting the airport during certain times. Little tips like that, and showing up at least two hours early for a domestic flight, as well as being sure you are making safe decisions behind the wheel, can help make any holiday adventure easier.
We reached out to transportation officials and law enforcement to discuss what folks should keep in mind if they’re traveling during one of the busiest times of the year to do so.
Plan your route
Like most holidays, motorists should expect delays because there will be above-normal traffic on the highly traveled I-5 corridor, he said.
Caltrans spokesman Jim Medina offered some sobering statistics when asked to share his top-three travel tips.
“With a record 8.7 million Southern Californians expected to take trips of 50 miles or more this holiday season – 88 percent driving – Caltrans District 7 is advising motorists to be extra cautious and consider traveling at off-peak times and taking alternate routes.
“Before getting on the road,” he said. “Motorists should check Caltrans’ Quickmap https://quickmap.dot.ca.gov/ or call 511 for real-time traffic information. In addition, follow us on Twitter @CaltransDist7.
Also, Medina said, plan ahead.
“AAA recommends motorists should prep their cars by getting oil changes, fluid level checks, battery tests and tire inspections,” he said.
“Get an emergency roadside kit in case you hit bad weather, and make sure it contains a mobile phone and car charger, first-aid kit, blankets, drinking water and snacks, a flashlight with extra batteries, a basic toolkit, warning flares, an ice scraper, jumper cables and a shovel.”
Caltrans scheduled a grand unveiling of its holiday travel tips at a “Holiday Travel press conference” Wednesday morning on Broadway Street, Los Angeles.
Barger spokesman Tony Bell commended Caltrans for efforts to reduce highway congestion.
“Caltrans has been very helpful and responsive,” he said Monday. “We should applaud them for that.”
When asked for travel tips, Bell had one:
“Don’t drive tired,” he said. And, of course, “don’t drive inebriated,” he said. “Even if you had a drink earlier, it’s still in your system later.”
For motorists bound for the airport, Becca Doten, managing director of media relations for Los Angeles World Airports serving LAX, said:
“These five tips are specific to the navigating traffic getting to/from LAX,” she said, describing them as the “ones that we are promoting this holiday travel season.”
- Take Century Boulevard — it’s typically less congested than Sepulveda Boulevard.
- Use the lower arrivals level — even if you’re departing
- Wait in a lot or structure – park free for 15 minutes in all LAX parking structures or sse the cellphone waiting lot
- Reduce your stress — take the flyaway other public transportation options
- Arrive early — at least two hours before domestic boarding and three hours before International boarding.
Public works officials had some travel tips, of their own, for making roads less obstructed for motorists.
Don’t drink & drive
Advice such “Don’t drink and drive” and “slow down” still tops the list for many officials intent on making travel easier, yet safer.
Sgt. Scott Shoemaker, who heads the Traffic Unit of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, puts the most common tips at the top of his list.
“No. 1, slow down,” he said Monday. “No. 2, don’t drink and drive; and, three, watch out for pedestrians. With schools being out for winter break and more people taking time off of work, be mindful of pedestrians, especially when driving though shopping center parking lots. “
Down the road from the Sheriff’s Station and around the bend of Valencia Boulevard, to Santa Clarita City Hall, the same advice is heard.
“Be a ‘head’s up’ driver,” said Carrie Lujan, city spokeswoman. “Put down the cellphone and focus on the road in front of you,” she said. “Not only is distracted driving dangerous – holding your phone while driving is also illegal.” She also mentioned a city website, santa-clarita.com/HeadsUp, as a resource for more tips.
Lujan also reminded everyone to “designate a sober driver or use a car service – such as a taxi, Uber of Lyft.”
Take a beat over your break
And, if that means patience — that’s what Officer Eric Priessman of the California Highway Patrol Newhall Station recommends.
“The first thing the CHP would recommend is having patience,” he said Monday.
“We can anticipate the roads will be filled with holiday travelers, so it’s important to plan your trip and allow for plenty of time to get to your destination.”
Next on the CHP’s list of travel tips is route-planning.
“Look for alternate routes and have a backup plan, said Priessman. “ If you’re planning on traveling into or through a heavily congested area, be aware of other ways to get your to where you’re going.
“A nasty collision can snarl traffic for miles, so it pays to have an alternate route.
Cut down on distractions
And, rising to the top ten most notable travel tips for holiday 2018 season, is the tip hinging on hand-held technology.
“Stay off those cell phones,” Priessman said.
“With all of the additional vehicles on the road, you’re going to need all of your attention on the road ahead of you.
“Don’t let something like a cell phone distract you from where your eyes and brain need to be,” he said.
For those who think travel tips are a waste of time, just remember the hellish holiday travel session through the Grapevine.
To avoid a return to the nightmare of Thanksgiving weekend traffic, Caltrans announced Monday that it has accelerated pavement repair on the northbound No. 3 lane of I-5 in Castaic to provide all four lanes through the construction zone to accommodate holiday traffic.
“While reopening the lane will improve traffic flow through Castaic and Santa Clarita, Caltrans recommends that motorists consider adjusting travel times or taking alternate routes — such as U.S. 101 and State Route 14,” Caltrans District 7 Director John Bulinski said in a news release Monday.
Clean stress-free roads
“Don’t block storm drains,” said Steve Frasher, spokesman for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, noting not to park flush against curbs, restricting the flow of curbside water and creating flooding.
“During periods of rain and storm, be aware of falling rocks and rocks on the roadway.
And, once the holiday season is over, and travel tips apply to those who are homeward bound, Frasher said “don’t obstruct roadways with discarded Christmas trees.
“Cut them up for green waste,” he said.