The closure of a 10-mile stretch of the 405 freeway in Los Angeles over the weekend of July 16-17 has become a full-blown car-culture preoccupation for Southern Californians. Here are six ways to cope with the imminent autopocalypse.
1. Use technology to avoid roadway trouble spots. Smartphone apps and in-car navigation systems can provide real-time traffic reports and routing that avoids congested freeways and highways. Here are some iPhone navigation apps, free iPhone nav apps and low-priced nav systems that can help.
2. Be calm behind the wheel. Road rage will get you nowhere, except in trouble. Practice auto-control. And rather than shake your fist at the jerk who cut you off, you can use the Fail Driver app to let the world know what an idiot he is.
3. Use responsible distractions if you’re stuck in traffic. This would be a good time for a road game especially if you’re traveling with restless kids. Slug-a-Bug never gets old. And if you’re by yourself, try an audio book to take your mind off the madness around you. “Left Behind,” maybe?
4. Don’t drive stupid to get out of stopped traffic. It’s dangerous and expensive if you get caught trying a desperation move like passing on the shoulder or driving on the sidewalk. Don’t make illegal use of the carpool lanes — that will set you back at least $381. The California Department of Transportation reminds us that “pets, infants still in the womb, inflatable dolls and ghosts (we’ve heard ‘em all!) do not count as passengers.”
5. Know what to do in a stalled-car emergency. If you’re stuck in traffic and your car’s temperature gauge begins to climb rapidly, you’d better start trying to pull over. If you can’t pull over, switch off the air conditioner and open the windows. You can even turn on the heat to circulate more coolant and try to hold the temperature down before you get off the road. If you start to smell steam or see steam coming out from under the hood, shut off the car as soon as you safely can.
6. Stay home. Watch “Cars.” Watch “Bullitt.” Watch “Ronin.” Watch any of these all-time great car movies. And remind yourself that however bad Carmaggedon seems, it will all be over on Monday.