The latest transportation studies show that the average American spends 36 hours per year stuck in traffic jams. In Southern California the figures rise to 56 hours per year. This page is here to help you avoid spending a good chunk of your vacation sitting on the freeway & more time for yourself.
Check out the Time Guide page for planning travels in California & also our infamous backroads section for enjoying alternate scenic routes. The listed tips below will help you to NOT be sitting in gridlock traffic waiting to get to your destination.
California Highway Conditions, & Motorhome Length Limits
California Highway Info, Construction & Restrictions
RV size limits & Motorhome restrictions
Trailers Length Limits
Bus Routes and Limits
Real-time Freeway Maps
traffic.com - real time traffic data
sigalert.com - LA traffic map / SIG alert
city traffic jams:
Large urban areas such as Los Angeles, San Diego & San Francisco Bay area traffic is difficult to judge, so a visit various web sites a few days in advance to check traffic patterns of local commuters. Plan for a better drive and it could happen smoothly, this time.
Planned Lane Closures
real time traffic cams
- mapping of California roadways w/ constant update on cuurent traffic conditions.
CALIFORNIA HWY INFO:
All hours of the night & day you
can find the California Dept. of Transportation (Cal Trans) closing
roads & freeways. Just for peace of mind: Call ahead, especially
on mountain routes & snowy winter conditions.
- Snow & Closures
Driving Directions: Map out one destination to another, specific
written directions plus map.
SF BayLink Ferries
- provides high speed commuter ferry service between Vallejo &
San Francisco's Pier 39 and Ferry Building. Service to Angel Island
is also available.
California Train Travels
- local trolley, subways, metro, bart, amtrak, historic railways, museums, railroad info
California Snow in the Mountains! - road conditions in specific high altitude Sierra highways. Mountain areas are basically anything above 2000' - but west coast snow generally falls above 4000' elevation mark
Areas to Avoid if at all possible
SD (5-6 pm)
Northbound 805/5 merge
Northbound 15/163 merge
Northbound 15 to Hwy.78
Eastbound 8 thru Mission Vally
LA / Orange County (4-7 pm)
Northbound 405 LAX to SF Vlly.
Southbound 5 into Orange Co.
fleeing from SoCal -
- Leave from work before 3 pm , if not
- Don't rush, take your time, leave after 7 pm
(make sure you let the innkeeper know that you'll be arriving late, and they'll get quite upset after midnight)
- Save yourself cash & stay only Saturday Night (altho some places, esp B&Bs usually require a 2 night minimum stay)
Returning to SoCal -
- Sundays 3 pm - 9 pm - almost all major arteries coming into a city can get backed up.
- Grapevine/ Tejon Pass from Bakersfield, I-5
- Hwy.101 South, thru Santa Barbara can get bad
- I-15 Westbound coming from Las Vegas
- I-10 Westbound coming from Palm Springs
- Hwy.91 Westbound coming from the East
- your escape route outta
- preplan for the freeway mess before you get stuck in it.
|Region - San Diego
||805 merge to Encinitas
||Mira Mar to Escondido
- beach traffic
|5 near Del Mar
JUNE - SEPT
|Region - Los Angeles
||Orange County to LA
||LA to Orange County
||all the time
||LAX airport to San Fernanado
||LAX airport to Long Beach / Orange County
||summer months - beach traffic
||jct of Interstate 605 to Interstate
||winter months: Big Bear ski traffic can be heavy until 11pm
Must head North out of LA? Skirting the backside of
LA is always a possiblity on a FRI night. Taking 15N, 10W, 210W
will put you in the opposite direction of most of the bad traffic
Merge back up with I-5 North of San Fernando Valley. If you
must get West to the coast, the Simi Valley 118 or the126 through
Fillmore is the best option.
Plenty of jump off spots for overnight camping on the Grapevine, inside Angeles
National Forest & Los
Padres National Forest.
camp in route
#1 - Avoid Los Angeles, if possible. This will add 1-4 extra hours
on to your road trip depending on the 'hellish & hectic'
reasons this area normally experiences. If you must venture through,
try doing so at night after 8pm.
Watch out for frequent Cal-Trans freeway closures starting
in the midnight hours.
The Interstate 91 & Interstate 10 Eastbound are both bad
situations during winter months due to Palms Springs &
Big Bear ski crowds.
Lets face it, Vegas traffic back to California really sucks!
The Interstate 15 is the main corridor that
gets backed up on Friday nights Northbound at the I-10
& the I- 215 junction.
|Southbound on Sundays is awaful from Barstow to San Bernardino. An alternate route is old Route 66 (best get a good map) & avoid the bumper to bumper in the high desert Mojave region.
OLD ROUTE 66, anyone?
- From Southern California
Headed to the Eastern Sierra's or Death Valley - Make sure
to take the Interstate 15 straight up to Highway 395N. The turn
off is just south of Victorville. " On the Road" gas
up & quick food on the 395 is available in Adelanto &
'four corners' Hwy. 58 junction.
But be warned it can get a little congested on Friday nights.
An alternate is Interstate 15N to Interstate 215N to avoid most
of the traffic from the west.
Typical afternoon rush hour problem spots in San Diego.
A small detour if traffic is bad on Hwy.78 in North County
San Diego & you are headed Interstate 15 North. Twin Oaks
Valley Rd. leads right up to Deer Springs Rd. & the 15.
Traffic Lanes & Driving Speeds
The chart above is NOT considered legal speeds, but they are kinda realistically what to expect on the FREEWAY. Interstate ins California get cranking and CHP is slways out in force, earning revenue for the state, as well as ensuring the safety of the roads. Seniors, tourists & outta stater visitors be warned. Large big rigs and SUVs kill with impact, so slow down a little folks.
|So much for Sammy's "Can't Drive 55"
Californians can't drive anywhere near 55. Now that the laws have increased the statewide speed to 65 or 70 mph, there is no stopping them. Unfortunately the average speeds are increasing all over the west, as people zoom from place to place, in a never ending transit society. This leaves way more dirt roads and rural backcountry left to us.
TIP: Exit the rat race & take your time, for your sanity sake & safety... slow down.
|# 1 lane
||# 2 lane
||# 3 lane
||# 4 lane
|the passing lane
|avg speed: 80 mph
||avg speed: 70 mph
||avg speeds: 65 mph
||avg speed: 60 mph
- best back roads
- local camping
- scenic highways
Late - Stay Late
- Leave early Friday
- - Before 3 pm!
- - Leave early before the rush
- Bring your bags/luggage to work on Fri. & leave straight
- Leave late Friday
- - After 7 pm!
- - Leave late after the traffic dies down
- - Make sure you tell the innkeeper that you'll be arriving
- Bring your bags/luggage to work on Fri. & leave straight
- Stay Later
- So many times I have had friends leave our vacation early
around noon on Sunday to "get back early"... which
blows my mind. Why not enjoy your day off?
- Gotta get back, beat the traffic!!! Rushing home to
do laundry & watch that boob tube? Enjoy your free weekend more.
Why rush back to the city - just to sit in more gridlock traffic? Hang out &
enjoy your destination longer. Avoid the stressful traffic jams; drive back late Sunday afternoon or early evening. Enjoy a relaxing restaurant dinner on
the return trip. Maybe have time to check out another cool small town on the way home. Leave your weekend destination after 5pm & choose a new or less traveled
Try these helpful suggestions for touring California -
Take the train
Check our Train Travel section
Journey on with suggestions on Sample Trips
- - Bring your bags/luggage to work on Fri. & leave straight
- - Take a cab/shuttle/drive over to the nearest train depot
& have your partner meet you there
- - Sit back & relax, rejuvinate yourself for your great
- Making the drive better -
- Share the driving with a friend or family member
- Carpool on long Road Trips - saves gas & nerves
- Caravan w/ another vehicle or group
- Pre-plan your stops & meeting spots down to the exact
- Use handheld 2 way radios or CBs to keep communication lines
open. Cell phone coverage is spotty at best on mountain back roads and in most rural regions.
Listen to the local radio
- Make time fly while driving, listen to music or the radio:
LA traffic reports: KFI 640
AM & KABC 790 AM
- SD traffic reports: KOGO 600 AM & KFMB 760 AM
- SF traffic reports: KGO 810 AM & KSFO 560 AM